Jaipur - The Good


I have an extreme love-hate relationship with Jaipur. Seeing the sights and what Jaipur has to offer for tourists was a great experience and one that I’m really glad I had. Unfortunately, I had to endure the other side of Jaipur where tourists are ruthlessly taken advantage of, tricked, and cheated into making poor decisions. I decided to blog about Jaipur in two entries. This one will focus on my brighter experiences in Jaipur, and the second will have a couple stories that pretty much sum up how a vacation can be ruined.

My first day in the Pink City, known for its historical architecture made with pink-colored sandstone, made me believe that I was in the city that so many travelers grow to love. Just a couple hours after sunrise, I climbed up a mountain ridge to a temple at the Royal Gaitor to catch a breath-taking view of Jaipur, surrounded by mountains and lakes. I was incredibly happy to finally be seeing this side of India for the first time. Being able to see more of the country that’s been home for me for the past 4 months was refreshing and kind of satisfying, too.

Earlier that morning, we hired Rahul, a rickshaw driver, to take us around a few sites for the day, and he was excellent at keeping up a friendly conversation as we went from place to place. He was quick to tell us how to be careful around the city and how to avoid cheaters who would try to sell us fake jewelry and handicrafts. We thought we lucked out with such a nice rickshaw driver!

The next stop was Amber Fort, a mammoth defensive structure built by the Meenas around 1600, which is made almost entirely out of red sandstone and white marble. We decided to opt out of paying for a guide and just take our time navigating our way through the hundreds of small corridors, up and down spiral staircases, and through the many open courtyards and gardens. Even without the guide telling us all the historical facets of the fort, its architecture, and its history, there was more than enough to just take in visually.

Right outside the fort, I bumped into a group of snake charmers. I’d heard that Jaipur still had a handful of snake charmers around the city despite it being outlawed in India in the late 1990s. As they probably do with most tourists passing by the area, they called me over to sit with them and gave me a flute to start serenading their snakes. As much as I tried, I could only get one note out of my flute, and I was afraid that the cobra staring straight at me was going to snap and take a bite. Thankfully, the older man sitting to my right took over musically, while the cobra was lifted out of its basket and around my neck! All I kept telling myself to calm down was ”This is normal… this is normal… this is normal…” I thanked them for the unique experience, gave them a small tip and made my way back to our wonderful rickshaw driver, Rahul.

In my following days in Jaipur, I visited the Surya Masjid (Sun Temple), also known as Monkey Temple, for its hundreds of primate inhabitants. Armed with a small bag of peanuts, I hiked up the long winding path up to the temple, occasionally holding out a peanut to have monkey swing down from a tree to snatch it away. A few times, I had to exercise caution as a group of 10-15 monkeys would start trailing behind me, knowing that the source of food was located in my left pocket.

One of the last things Emily and I did in Jaipur was high tea at the Rambagh Palace with Julia and Tom, a couple of Americans we met at our hotel. Sure, it was on the pricey side, but having the chance to share high tea and an amazing spread of snacks and sandwiches with Julia and Tom talking about all our travels, our experiences and thoughts made it well worth it. After tea, we devised a plan to be on business searching for the perfect hotel for our families in hopes to get a free tour of the palace. Unfortunately, we were only given a short tour of a room and a brief history lesson about the palace since most parts of the hotel are kept extremely exclusive for guests (paying a minimum of $690 for a night and as high as $12,800)!

I would've loved to have left Jaipur with only these experiences to remember, but my next post truthfully reveals another side of the city, and possibly more cities throughout India, that left a very bitter impression on my memory.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad to know that despite having a very bad experience you enjoyed your time in Rajasthan and have some good memories about that place..

Hope you will visit there again, just being very conscious about such cheaters.

Hiren Patel.

Post a Comment

This entry is filed under .

You can also follow any responses to all entry through the RSS Comments feed.