The Paris of India, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India

The next day we decided to visit some of the outer city Jaipur sites. With the first rickshaw driver we organised, we were a little too relaxed and after paying him 100 rupees for fuel while we went to get a lassi (Jaipur’s most famous lassi), he did not return. We found another rickshaw driver and were on our way again, although as we were leaving for Pushkar in the afternoon, we were extremely rushed.

Monkey Temple (Galwar Bagh)

Our first stop was Monkey Temple, located four kilometres inside Jaipur’s eastern hills. The rickshaw driver dropped us off at Galta Gate, which was the start to a one kilometre winding road towards the Monkey Temple.

As soon as we arrived we saw half a dozen different animals, cows, chickens, pigs and of course monkeys. The monkeys were playing in troughs of water, jumping in and out similar to a child in a swimming pool. The whole winding road leading to the Monkey Temple was scattered with monkeys, local Indians were very generous, giving the monkeys grains and mangoes, I would imagine as an offering to the god, Hanuman, a monkey-like humanoid.

Monkey temple is actually a collection of sacred temples and water tanks (kunds) that were used as an ancient pilgrimage site. We walked around for a little while, snapping photos of the beautiful architecture.

Monkeys playing in a trough of waterView of Galta Gate entrance to Monkey TempleMother and baby monkey
Male monkey eating a mango with the Galta Gate in the backgroundFemale monkey eying the cameraThe path littered with monkeys
Angry monkeyMonkey chilling under the shade of some stonesBaby monkey
The first water tank at the Monkey TempleMonkey posing in the cornerBaby monkey on the stones of the temple
Galtaji ancient Hindu pilgrimage siteOne of the temples and water tanksGaltaji ancient Hindu pilgrimage site
Several temples and sacred kunds (water tanks) in which pilgrims batheMonkeys sitting on a wall with Jaipur in the backgroundMonkeys eating mangos on stairs


Amer Fort

Even though we had seen our share of forts, there were still many aspects of this fort that were different and surprised us. The Amber Fort shared mixed styles from Hinduism and Islam, the first building the Diwan-i-Am (Hall of Public Audience) demonstrated this perfectly with the elephant capitals and latticed galleries above.

Amber Fort as viewed from Amer RoadThe upper mail level of Amber FortAmber Fort with Suraj Pole (Sun Gate) visible to the far right
Maota Lake with Amber Fort in the distanceAmber Fort towering over Maota LakeThe start of the patch zigzagging to Suraj Pole (Sun Gate)
Stairway from the Jaleb Chowk leads into the main palace groundsElephant shaped capitals of the Diwan-i-Am (Public Audience Hall)Elephant shaped capitals of the Diwan-i-Am (Public Audience Hall)
The Diwan-i-Am (Public Audience Hall) with elephant shaped capitals and galleries above itDoors of the second courtyard, visible in the background is the Amber Fort domeDoor leading from Jaleb Chowk to the first courtyard
Overlooking the first main courtyard with the Suraj Pole (Sun Gate) to the rightKesar Kyari Bagh Gardens of Amber FortGanesh Pol (Gate), Hindu god Lord Ganesh removes all obstacles in life
Hindu god Lord Ganesh removes all obstacles in lifeMuqarnas, typical Islamic architecture above Ganesh GateCeiling painting at Amber Fort
Brightly coloured wall carvings at Amber FortFortification wall and tower surrounding Amber FortThe maze like architecture of Amber Fort
Indian woman in orange sari peering through the screensMosaics of mirrors at the Sheesh Mahal (mirror palace)Stalactite ceiling of mirrors at the Sheesh Mahal (mirror palace)
Watchtowers at the edges of Amber FortBaradhari pavilion at Man Singh I Palace SquareBaradhari pavilion at Man Singh I Palace Square
Once of the dark long corridors inside Amber FortTwo large cooking pots or woks found at Amber FortThe winding stairs leading up to the entrance


Water Palace (Jal Mahal)

The Water Palace is a palace situated in the middle of Man Sagar Lake. Not originally part of our tour due to time constraints, we convinced our rickshaw driver to make a brief stop for photos (as it was on the way), he wasn’t too happy when we didn’t pay him more though.

Jal Mahal meaning Water Palace

This concluded our travels through historic Jaipur, later in the afternoon we caught a bus to nearby Pushkar.

The Pink City, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India

Continuing our ‘gold triangle’ leg of India, we caught a five hour bus ride from Agra to Jaipur, the entrance to the Rajasthan region. Jaipur is also known as the Paris of India and the Pink City, though I didn’t find it particularly pink at this time.

On arrival, we found it extremely difficult to find a hotel with vacancies, our auto-rickshaw driver somehow knew this, and even after seeing a few of the  Lonely Planet recommendations that were all full, we took his advice and used one of his recommendations. Unfortunately, like many of the hotels it wasn’t walking distance to the main square.

After we checked in we decided to follow the LP’s Jaipur City Walking Tour, this gave us a feel for the city and also allowed us to see a few of the main sights with sunset light.

The next day we checked-out some of the main Jaipur tourist attractions.

Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds)

Early in the morning we made our way to the Hawa Mahal (or Palace of Winds). The Hawa Mahal has an amazing exterior facade, looking similar to the honeycomb of a beehive. These individual windows allowed for the ladies to view the streets without being observed themselves, this practice known as purdah is similar in concept to the veils worn by Islamic women.

Inside the palace was a maze of hallways and rooms, all intricately decorated with colour and floral decorations. From the highest levels, the Jantar Mantar and City Palace was visible, our next destinations.

The beehive appearance of Hawa Mahal, the Palace of WindsThe beehive appearance of Hawa Mahal, the Palace of the BreezeLooking in from the main entrance into the Hawa Mahal
Entrance to the Hawa Mahal inner courtIndian god on sitting on lotus flowerEntrance to the Hawa Mahal inner court
Entrance to the Hawa Mahal inner courtGanesh god above the entrance welcoming guestsThe honeycomb looking buildings seen for the main inner court
Inside the Hawa MahalBeautiful decorated green wooden doorA wooden door at the Hawa Mahal
Floral stained glass window at the Hawa MahalPeeling floral painting on a wooden doorDecorative arches looking out towards the courtyard
Looking out from one of the rooms through to the courtyardArches and pillars of the undercover halls of the Hawa MahalArches and pillars of the undercover halls of the Hawa Mahal
The Hawa Mahal viewed from belowLooking over the main courtyard towards the entranceStained glass windows found in may rooms of the Hawa Mahal
Sonya standing under one of the decorative undercover featuresRear view of the Hawa MahalTravis resting under one of the many undercover arches of the Hawa Mahal
Sonya with the Hawa Mahal in the backgroundView of the Hawa Mahal from the insideOne of the viewing areas allowing women to view the streets
Arched pillared halls found in the Hawa MahalDecorative golden features on the roof of the Hawa MahalThe highest point of the Hawa Mahal looking towards the jantar Mantar
The Jantar Mantar complex seen from the Hawa MahalSonya at one of the women's viewing areasThe Hawa Mahal with the old bazaar street below


Jantar Mantar

Jantar Mantar (literally calculation instrument) is a collection of architectural astronomical instruments and was one of the more interesting sights I had seen.  Again we decided to get the audio tour, though even for me, an engineer, I found the content far too complex.

There are fourteen instruments, the largest known as the Samrat Yantra, the world’s largest sundial at twenty-seven metres high. The collection made for great photos, unfortunately, I got told-off by one of the guards when I tried climbing them.

Observation deck of the samrat yantra (Giant sundial)Giant Sundial known as the Samrat Yantra (The Supreme Instrument)World's largest sundial, standing 27 meters tall
Shadow moves visibly at 1 mm per second, or roughly a hand's breadthRam Yantra at Jntar ManarRam Yantra at Jntar Manar
Astrological and astronomical instrument at Jantar MantarConstellation Pisces zodiac instrumentConstellation Pisces zodiac instrument
Narivalaya Yantra at Jantar Mantar, JaipurAstrological and astronomical instrument at Jantar MantarJai Prakash Yantra at Jantar Mantar, Jaipur


City Palace

Nearby the Jantar Mantar is the Jaipur City Palace, a huge complex, with portions still in use by the royal family and sealed off from tourists.

The highlight of the palace for me was the Pitam Niwas Chowk, an inner courtyard surrounded by four gateways each representing a different season and adorned with amazing decorations. The most famous is the Peacock Gate, which represents the season autumn.

The colour of the buildings is the origin of the term Pink City, having been painted on the visit of the Prince of Wales in 1853 in a show of hospitality.

City Palace entrance to Royal Family still in useAntique canon outside the Jaipur City PalaceEntrance arch to the Jaipur City Palace
Chandra Mahal at the Jaipur City PalaceDiwan-I-Khas, a private audience hall of the MaharajasChandra Mahal, seen at the top is the flag of the royal family
Travis and Sonya self portrait in Gangajelies (Ganges-water silver urns)Marble floored chamber of Diwan-I-KhasModel of the Jaipur City Palace
Clock Tower in the Jaipur City PalaceArches of the Chandra MahalWindows of the Chandra Mahal
Upper area of one of the gates at the Pitam Niwas ChowkFamous Northeast Peacock Gate with motifs of peacocks on the doorway representing autumnSonya at the famous Peacock Gate
The details of the Northeast Peacock Gate with motifs of peacocks on the doorwayOne of the wooden peacocks at the above the Peacock GateNortheast Peacock Gate with motifs of peacocks on the doorway dedicated to Lord Vishnu
The Peacock Gate and the Lotus Gate at the Pitam Niwas ChowkBeautifully decorated Lotus Gate at the Pitam Niwas ChowkSouthwest Lotus Gate with continual flower and petal pattern suggestive of summer season
Southwest Lotus Gate with continual flower and petal pattern dedicated to Lord Shiva-ParvatiSonya outside the Lotus Gate representing summerSonya and Travis self portrait with an antique mirror


Nahargarh Fort

From the City Palace we made our way north along the south face of the Aravalli Hill to the Nahargarh Fort. The fort, whilst unrestored, still showed some amazing frescos. Looking over the fortification walls was a beautiful view of Jaipur City below.

At the base of Aravalli Hill with Nahargarh Fort on topThe main face of Nahargarh Fort looking over JaipurFortification wall of Nahargarh Fort with Jaipur visible below
Inside the Nahargarh Fort palace compoundFresco of a bush found inside the Nahargarh Fort palaceFresco of horse rider found inside the Nahargarh Fort palace
Fresco of elephant rider found inside the Nahargarh Fort palaceColourfully decorated wooden door of the Nahargarh For palaceCow on the winding path in Aravalli Hill
You shall not pass, cows along the Aravalli Hill pathView of Jaipur old city from Aravalli HillView of Jaipur, the pink city
View of Jaipur, the Paris of IndiaView of Jaipur, the pink cityView of Jaipur, the Paris of India


Jaipurian Langurs

A trip to an Indian city isn’t complete without bumping into a few monkeys. At Naharagarh Fort we came across into a troop of friendly Jaipurian Langurs, I had fun feeding them our mango skins, until one of them grabbed the whole bag full.

Langur monkeys on the Nahargarh Fort wallsTravis with a troop of langur monkeysTravis feeding a barrel of Langur monkeys mango skins
Two happy monkeys eating mangosWise Langur monkey sitting and watchingMonkey sitting on the peak of the Nahargarh Fort walls
Langur monkeys sitting on the Nahargarh Fort wallsLangur running along the tops of the Nahargarh Fort wallsMonkey running along the tops of the Nahargarh Fort walls

We made our way back down the hill, passing a few cows that were also making the journey down, though somewhat slower.

That night we had some of the most delicious (and cheap) chicken tikka masala at local restaurant.

Chicken tikka masala