Apologies for the long hiatus between India posts – it has taken us literally a month to sift through and edit all of our photos. Now that everything is sorted, however, I’m pleased to bring you installment #4 of our grand india adventure: Jaipur!
I have to say that even though we spent only a day in Jaipur, it was one of my favorite cities. Jaipur is known as the pink city because of the pink sandstone that’s endemic to the region. Jaipur is the capital and largest city of Rajasthan, which is an extremely popular tourist destination because of the beauty of the landscape paired with the saturated colors of the native dress. We started our day in Jaipur with a visit to Hawa Mahal, or the palace of the winds (above). The windows you see facing the street are a façade – they were built this way to allow the breeze to pass through and cool the women sitting behind the screens (hence the name!). It’s a very striking landmark, but fairly superficial, as there isn’t really anything to see behind the façade.
However, the most exciting part of the day was definitely the elephant ride that we took up the mountain to the fort! As you can see, the elephants are painted with vibrant colors (mainly for the tourists’ benefit) and are driven by very adept elephant masters. Interestingly enough, all the elephants are female – the males proved too aggressive for this kind of long-term proximity. This was the first time anyone in Team Dillon had ridden an elephant, and it was a lot of fun :) . Our elephant’s name was Lakshmi, and our driver informed us that she was a fan of bananas.
The Jaipur fort is another gorgeous testament to the longevity of Hindu architecture. Situated atop a small mountain, this stronghold held the Maharaja and provided natural protection against any enemies. The fort itself was sumptuously outfitted with different palaces for each season. One of the palaces (the summer palace) was my particular favorite: the entire building was covered in mirrors. It was quite a sight. Added bonus: there were monkeys on almost every wall of the fort! Our guide informed us that the black-faced monkeys (like the one above) are friendly, while the red-faced monkeys are mischievous and pretty evil. The ones we ran into in Jaipur were pretty harmless (and extremely adorable).
We ended our day with a visit to a carpet factory where the same family has turned out carpets for centuries. Jaipur is famous for its rugs, and learning how the rugs are made was a pretty rare treat. And, just for fun, we also visited a very famous Jaipur site – The Gem Palace. Run by a very eccentric Indian man and his Italian wife (and sons!), the gem palace is a destination for anyone who’s anyone visiting India: Jackie Kennedy, Oprah, Gwyneth Paltrow, The Clintons, the list goes on. The owner was hilarious, and he let us try on some of his prized works. Below, check out my parents in two pieces commissioned by the king of Oman (each costing 1.5 MILLION DOLLARS EACH). Those are real diamonds, mind you. Too much fun, indeed.
Check back next week for our last installment of our India adventure!!