India

Jaipur

Jaipur-29

Jaipur is known as the pink city, and we could see why right away. Pretty much every building in the old town was the same orange/pink color. Our first day there we went to see the City Palace, and we were easily able to get a tuk tuk driver right outside our guest house to take us to the palace. He offered to take us to the other main attractions around the city but we just wanted to do the palace today and decided to do the tour tomorrow. The palace is a popular tourist attraction and we were excited to see it. The whole thing was so pretty and had lots of good spots for pictures. It was interesting seeing how palaces differed from city to city and seeing what made them unique. We walked around the palace for a while and then went to see the Hawa Mahal, or ‘Palace of the Winds’, which was right up the street. It was built in 1799 and was originally intended to allow royal ladies to be able to observe everyday life in the street below without being seen. Back then, they had to obey the strict rules of ‘purdah’ which forbade them from being seen in public without their face being covered. We walked through the whole building and the top had amazing views of the city; we could really see how pink everything was.

We met our tuk tuk driver early the next morning. We told our guest house owner that we had hired our driver for the day and he said he knows him and that he’s a good guy (makes sense since he was parked right outside our guest house) but it made us feel more comfortable. The main thing to see in Jaipur (even more popular than the City Palace) is the Amer Fort. When we were driving up to it we stopped on the side of the road to take a picture from afar. While stopped, a man carrying a basket approached us. He smiled and set it down and took the cover off revealing a snake! He started to play his flute (‘pungi’) and the snake rose up and started swaying. We watched for a quick minute but then hopped back into the tuk tuk and drove off. We arrived at the fort and looking up at it, it was huge! It was really cool to walk through and see where people hundreds of years ago would live and hang out. We walked around for a while and came across one guard who let us go behind a barrier and take a couple pictures in a closed off area. We weren’t sure if it was actually closed off or if he just wanted a tip – but either way it was fun to explore.

The last stop on the tour was the ‘shopping’ portion of the trip. We were taken to a textile factory run by a friend of our driver. We were a little hesitant since we didn’t plan to buy anything, but it was actually really interesting to see the work that goes on behind the scenes and was worth a stop. A lot of the patterns on the cloth are made by hand using a stamp that is pressed onto the cloth over and over again. The owner wanted to show us his shop after, and of course he was a little pushy for us to buy something (not bad though compared to other shops we went into). He made us chai tea to get us to sit down with him (which was a sales tactic we loved since the tea was always delicious). He showed us loads of tapestries, blankets, rugs, pillow cases, etc. and each was delicately placed on the floor in front of us. After laying down twenty pieces or so, he started asking us about individual ones and if we would buy any. Every time we said no, he would grab it and throw it across the room into a pile. We nearly spit our tea out the first time he did it; so much for the gentle presentation earlier! After saying no to everything, we walked around his showroom a bit longer and actually did end up buying a pillowcase. You could tell it was hand-made and it looked nice!

After our shopping trip, our driver brought us to an amazing lunch spot that we definitely wouldn’t have found, or even known that it was a restaurant. We were led up to the 2nd floor of a nondescript rundown building and given a menu of vegetarian options. We had some of our (now) favorite Indian dishes – chana masala and aloo ghobi. Overall, our tour was probably one of our favorite days in India.