Tuesday, February 20, 2001

Jaipur 2001 - a day tour

We(two of us) went for a day tour to Jaipur .It is possible to go to there in a day tour(approx 300 Km).
We went with Sonia Travels, a travel agency which operates through an agent in market no. 4 of Chittaranjan Park, New Delhi(fare Rs 206). Since we were the only travellers from C.R. Park ,we were taken by a car at around 7 a.m. to Vasant Kunj ,where the tourist bus was waiting and we joined others from there.
We reached Amber(or Amer) Fort,which is 11 Km from Jairpur, at about 1 p.m. Amber Fort was the first destination,since it comes first from Delhi-Jaipur raod.It is a huge fort on the top of a hill. It is the ancient capital of Jaipur "state" and this fort-palace construction was begun by Maharaja Man Singh in 1592,the Rajput commander of Akbar's army. It was extended and completed by Jai singh II (1693-1743). However the capital was (in 1727) moved down from this hillside fort to a new site in the plains,Jaipur.

Jeeps took the travellers from the bus to the base of the Amber Fort. From there we climbed up the meandering path to the main fort, on the top of the fort overlooking a lake.There was the shishmahal, a courtyard were dance performances used to take place. The ornamentation of the ceiling and the walls by the coloured glasses is beyond comparison. It is said that in the famous bollywood movie of yesteryear "Mughle-e-Azam", the court of the emperor ( where the famous song "pyar kiya to dar na kya..." was picturised), was deigned by drawing inspiration from this "Shish Mahal". It is standing alone like a page from history. Although it has stunning Rajput architecture , it shows distinct Mughal influence.
There are elephants carrying tourists(mostly foreigners) to the fort(It costs much more than shared jeep) on their decorated back to give them a feel of the royal charm. Standing on the top of the fort I had a strange feeling, thinking about the people who once populated the fort, the characters which crafted the history of the huge fort................ drifting in the tide of time.

The afternoon break for refreshment was anounced and the place selected by the tour operator was interesting with live performance of Rajasthani folk music. We however relished the pizza and the fried rice prepared in our home (with recepies of Pizza learnt from Munna Maima by Sourabh) !!!
From there a tour guide boarded the bus and started his commentary , once the journey started. We had a bus ride along the pink city, Jaipur enjoying every bit of it. We were taken to the heart of the city:Hawa Mahal which symbolises Jaipur. It was constructed in 1799.
In 1876 (or 1853?) Maharaja Ram Singh painted the enite old city into pink (the color of Hospitality) to welcome Prince of Wales.
We were also taken to the Jantar Mantar. We were amazed to see the scientific practices of the people of that time and their indegenous ways of finding out time and several other things. It is one of the 5 observatories built by Jai singh II in 1728. . He was very passionate about astronmy. One of them is in Delhi.

On our way back the bus stopped at a state government run emporium and our guide declared(as usual) that we can gather mementos from there without undertaking the risk of being cheated. There were beautifully carved stone figures, the famous jaipur light weight quilts (rejai), gorgeous sarees called maharani sarees, tie and dye handlooms etc.
However, what we found is that the prices were on the higher side and some stuffs are really too expensive.
Later on I found out that though we were discouraged by our guide to do shopping in the Hawa Mahal area, it invariably turned out to be the most popular shopping area and prices are much cheaper!!! .
Our return journey started soon after visiting the state emporium and at almost 1 am we were dropped at Chittaranjan Park.

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