In The Pink City

The old part of Jaipur was painted pink (more a terracotta colour) over 100 years ago for the visit of a prince, and ever since it’s remained that way. We arrived here yesterday from Pushkar where we had an early morning start for a desert camel trek at sunrise.

I’ve never sat on a camel before and it’s not quite like sitting on a horse (getting on and off is a gyroscopic experience too), but Tony (my camel) and Johnny (Sam’s camel) didn’t seem to bothered that we were novices.

It was the second time we have had to break out of a hotel in the early hours before any staff had awoken (due to us forgetting to tell anyone of our plans) but it was worth it and we took three hours to venture out into the surrounding areas and up and down sand dunes before returning to meet Mr Singh and get on our way to Jaipur,

Our hotel in Jaipur took us a little by surprise. AFter doing a few passes of the road we eventually found the place, set back and quiet compared to the noise outside. We had requested our tour agent try and get us into the nicest hotels he could for our money, and despite not being a five star we’ve got marble, arches, a three piece suite and matching four poster bed so we’re not complaining too much.

AFter dumping our stuff we met our next guide who took us to the City Palace, the residence of the royal family and king of Rajastan. A personal friend of the current Windsors & Co., the collections and parallels are inetresting.

Included in the museums and grounds are two vast pure silver urns (used to carry water from the Ganges to Britain for the coronation of Edward VII) that are as high as me and huge carpets the size of houses (so big they no longer can be displayed on the floor).

After a good exploration of the palace, we visited the royal astronomical instruments. The initial reaction to these megaliths is that they were probably built in the 1980’s as some kind of modern art park, but in reality they are over 250 years old and are an incredibley accurate and sophisticated set of marble devices, including the largest (and therefore most accurate sundial in the world) which stands about seven or eight elephants high.

In the evening we came back via a hand-carpet factory before going out for a traditional Rajastani evening. There were all the awkward hallmarks of being a westerner including having to wear a turban (badly) and struggle to eat while sitting on the floor (pins and needles). Sam got henna-ed up on both hands and feet which meant she was walking around like a zombie until this morning when the whole lot could be peeled off.

This morning was a trip over to the Amber Fort (the previous residence of the kings, but abandoned for 250 years) where we took a swift elephant ride (this time in a proper padded saddle box) up to the top of the hill and had a couple of hours of exploration.

This afternoon has been quieter. With another nice pool at the hotel, we’ve taken time to recover from the heat and early starts. Tommorow, Agra.