Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Our Journey started in Delhi and Delhi to Jaipur has a beautiful highway/toll road, the toll is pretty expensive and they collect money every few kms. Road/tourist tax in Rajasthan is much higher than UP but roads are better maintained than UP.
Jaipur can be divided into old city and new city. The old city has Hawa-Mahal, City Palace and Jantar Mantar. The new city has the developed part of Jaipur. Jaipur has 3 forts (Amer Fort, Jiagarh Fort and Nahargarh fort), we only visited Amer and Jaigarh fort.
The royal family hasn't completely relinquished its power but has retained control over parts of Jaipur. I felt there is still a sense of respect towards the Raja.
City palace is owned by the present Maharajah and he has converted part of the palace to a museum and tourist attraction. The curious attractions were the dress worn by one of the previous Raja's who was 7ft tall, 4ft wide and weighed 280kilos and the huge silver drums constructed to carry ganga-jal (water from river ganges) to England. Inside the palace the present maharaja is funding an art school where the local artists/artisans are encouraged, great effort to preserve some of the ancient art secrets. We didn't have much time but the paintings were truly marvelous.
Next stop for us was the sound and light show at Amer fort, it gave us a brief history of Rajputana and of the Amer fort itself. It was pretty spectacular, one of the attractions that should not be missed while in Jaipur. The show commentary is offered in 2 languages (English and Hindi) and English commentary almost costs twice as much as Hindi.
Jaigarh fort is a massive fort and felt like it had more emphasis on protection and defense than architecture. The fort boasts of one of the world's biggest canon, so big that it was fired only once and never after. The fort has a well inside which supposedly was a cover-up for a treasury. The treasury used to be locked by an unique lock that took 5 keys to open. The fort supposedly used to have a rain water harvesting system, the small canals used for the same are still intact. The guide mentioned that the fort used to have enough storage space for ration to survive a siege of several months. If you visit this place hire a guide to tour the same.
Amer fort is a more beautiful fort than Jaigarh fort and is much smaller and more artistic than Jaigarh fort. The fort has undergone transformation over time and I felt this fort had more muslim/moghul influence than Jiagarh fort. This fort seemed a place for peace time than war. One of the unique things I remember about the fort is the royal bathroom, it had so many smaller rooms inside it that I almost got lost inside. The fort also had a modern paid bathroom and it was so well done and maintained that for once I felt the money was worth.
HawaMahal is a 5 storey unique building built in the heart of Jaipur, it was built for queens to watch kings parade while it was passing through the heart of Jaipur. It has unique windows that are designed for view of outside from inside and not the other way. The guide told us that the older queens were given lower floors and younger queens used to get the higher floors (seniority in reverse order). Hawa Mahal has some unique designs to maintain privacy and security of its residents.
The other attractions were Jalmahal which is submerged in a lake and in the process of being converted to a hotel and Jantar Mantar, which we didn't have time to visit.
It was good to see that the Rajasthan government is in the process of preserving the places through repairs. At the same time some miscreants were showing their talents in calligraphy on newly repaired walls.
I felt Rajasthan has maintained the link between the past and the present, the forts have stood test of time but unlike other places they haven't whithered away, they have gone through modifications and transformations but they haven't lost their originality. I truly appreciated the Rajputs for having maintained their culture intact through the Moghuls and the British. Some of the palaces are still left intact and maintained as tourist attractions and not converted to hotels.
On the whole Jaipur is an expensive place to visit but worth one's time to visit. It is a good idea to hire a guide to see some of the attractions but remember to bargain/bargain/bargain.