Scenes from an Elephant, and a Rickshaw, and a Jeep!!

Oh Jaipur, I don’t even know where to start. Such a crazy whirlwind day!!

Our first big excitement of the day was an elephant ride up the hill to the Amer Fort. We beat most of the tour buses there so our group was lucky enough to be able to go straight to the elephants with just a minimal wait. Long enough for for a multitude of vendors to try an entice us to purchase everything from maharaja turbans to mirrored umbrellas to paintings to shoehorns shaped like peacocks.

We barely climbed aboard the back of our elephant and onto the seat before we were lumbering up towards the fort. The swaying gait of the elephant is certainly far more noticeable when you’re actually sitting atop one and holding on to the seat for security. It’s not an easy way to travel ; ) It was however, lots of fun and a unique experience. Even funnier was the fact that our elephant guy seemed to think we wanted a slow, leisurely walk to the top so he kept us at a super slow pace and all the other elephants kept passing us. Mom (who likes to do things the most exciting way possible) was a little disappointed but he turned up the speed before the end so she was much happier.

The fort itself is really beautiful and the area around is gorgeous. It was interesting to learn about the history of the area and how the fort was used. Loved that the king would at times dress as a commoner and walk the city to be more in touch with his people.

We took jeeps back to the bus which was an interesting ride itself. Any mode of transportation on those roads is guaranteed to get your heart pumping!

Our next big stop of the day was the Palace of the Winds in the heart of Jaipur. Amazing place. The king built it for the ladies of his court. They each had their own apartment and were not allowed to visit with each other privately in their apartments. If they wanted to chat they had and area now called the gossip corner where they were monitored by the eunuchs. Of course there is much more of interest than that to both of these sites, they are fascinating.

It’s also so great to see so many Indian tourists enjoying their own country (and taking lots of photos with the foreigners around). Everyone is incredibly friendly!

We stopped for lunch at a beautiful heritage property that used to belong to the royal family but has been converted into a small hotel and restaurant. It was astonishingly peaceful and a welcome respite after the extreme persistence of the vendors following us from the fort.

Side note about food: I am in love with the paneer, a soft cheese resembling tofu which tastes much better and is served grilled as a cheese steak (literally) or cubed in a variety of tasty sauces. One of my new favourite things!

Jaipur is known for it’s handicrafts and especially for jewelry. There are a number of precious and semi precious gems which are mined in the area and gems from all over are also cut and polished here. We visited a jeweler and watched the gem polishers at work. Of course we also visited the showroom and checked out the beautiful sparkly things for sale. Sadly I did not leave dripping in emeralds…. maybe next time. (Should anyone wish to get me something sparkly for my birthday… I love emeralds! hee hee)

We were also taken to see another carpet maker and watched some artisans at work knotting a carpet. They also have some of the only camel wool carpets available which were really really soft. They also had just a few spectacular reversible silk carpets. For a piece approx. 3×4, it took 2 people 6 years to finish. It is completely reversible with totally different designs on the front and the back. Probably the most impressive carpet I’ll ever see!! However, since I can choose to buy two of those or a car, it’s not coming home with me either.

And that was about it! After a day of heat and humidity that makes me wilt and being inundated with vendors all the time, I was in bed embarrassingly early.

So many things to mention at some point though: the plumbing…  the food… the people… the group we’re touring with…

Today is a travel day so with 7 hours on the bus maybe I’ll have time! Although, you never know what will happen on Indian roads or what you’ll see!

Happy Halloween everyone!!


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