You are probably bored with my posts from India, but there is so much historical beauty, architectural wonder and cultural diversity here, I can’t help but share it all with you.
Jaipur, popularly referred to as the “Pink City”, is the capital of the State of Rajasthan, India. It is known for its unique architecture, forts, palaces, art, culture and of course, its tasty cuisines. Founded in 1727, by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II- a great architect and astronomer, Jaipur Architecture is based on Indian Vastu concepts, making the architecture of Jaipur a note-worthy case study for the modern architects around the world. It is the first planned city of India, divided into nine blocks and seven majestic gates.
In 1876, the Prince of Wales and Queen Victoria visited India. To welcome his guests, the Maharaja painted the entire city pink, denoting hospitality. This earned it the name “Pink City”. I took so many pictures and I’ve included a few for you. Oh, and I got to touch an elephant for the first time!
With every post and place I visit, it gets harder to put everything in words. To make up for this, I’ve put in a little gallery. Hopefully these pictures will convey the enormity and opulence of this palace. It’s a fortress out of a storybook.
The best part of our day was spent at Choki Dhani, a resort with a Rajisthani village setting. On arrival, we were welcomed with Tilak, the red mark on the forehead, as a sign of greeting and blessing. The Tilak was applied between my eyebrows (the seat of wisdom and concentration) along with some grains of rice. For Rs 500 per person, I enjoyed walking and wobbling on the swinging bridges and climbing the Tyre wall, riding a horse and a camel! My first time on any animals back!
As the evening wore on, there was a magic show, local music and dance performances and we joined in. I got henna/Mehendi designs on my palm for R20 and bought a few clothes from the Rajasthani stalls. However, spending was limited because of the change in the Indian currency notes.
The traditional Marwadi dinner served in leaf plates and mud cups looked revolting, and the names were a mouthful, but I risked the stomach upset to discover they were surprisingly delicious. Chapatti/Bajra Roti and Ghee quickly became my favourite, closely followed by Daal Bhaati. Moong Dal Ka Kichda looked an absolute mess but topped with powdered sugar it was quite flavourful. The foods just kept coming and I still don’t know all I ate. To round off the surreal meal, we had crispy golden Jalebis, a local Rajasthani sweet for dessert, and some Muhkwa for our breath-a very classy tradition Nigerian Restaurants should adopt.
The Taj Mahal was commissioned in 1632 by the fifth Mughal Emperor of India, Shah Jahan and today it is considered one of the Wonders of the World. This Palace is really a tomb for his favourite wife-a Persian princess, Mumtaz Mahal who died while giving birth to their 14th child, Gauhara Begum. Learning Points: Love money and Power are good things, but I digress. Out of curiousity, I went searching for the last living heir of this great man and it turns out she lives in abjact poverty. Learning Points: all things pass away.
My visit to the Taj Mahal was marred by foggy weather. I couldn’t take great pictures and most of the Palace seemed to be under some repair or the other. Nevertheless, I’d say it was worthwhile.
Sitting at home a few months ago, I started a number of places I’d hoped to visit but I didn’t think I’d actually get to see so many of them. It’s been such an amazing adventure and I’m glad I’ve shared it with you.
Up Next: Christmas-New Year Give-Away!