Wednesday, June 27, 2012. Jaipur, Rajasthan, India.
Distance driven: 2,472 KM / 1547 miles.
After about 2.75 hours of driving from Ranthambhore, we stopped at the offices of Four Wheel Drive who are providing our car and driver and who, in the end booked all our hotels. They even took care of the internal flight we needed from Hyderabad to Delhi and setup the game drives. We had initially planned on booking our hotels, but they were able to do it for the same price and have their local knowledge has been very helpful. The hotels have ranged from okay to marvelous and all fit within the budget we gave them. We had only hotel were we decided to change (in Ranthambhore) and they were quickly and efficiently able to find us a better place. All of their bookings for us until this point have been done without any deposit or credit card number from us. Since we’ve been traveling for nearly three weeks, this is a sizeable amount of money, so this demonstrates a remarkable level of trust.
Jaipur is part of the Golden Triangle – with Delhi and Agra. Now that we are in the most popular tourist region of India we are seeing far more foreigners.
We dropped our stuff at the hotel and had some lunch. Then Sury took us to a good bookstore called Crosswords that had lots of English language books. The boys were able to find two novels they had been looking for at a price that was as good, if not better than we could find in the US, although I think the printings are British editions. One of the thick paperbacks sells for RP699, or about US$12.26 at list. It also had the manufacturers UK price printed on the cover at UK25, or about US$39, so 1/3 the price here for an original book, not a cheap knock off like we’ve seen in our travels in China.
We then drove to Sisodia Maharang Bargh, a ladies palace and garden from 1710 which is now mostly used for events such as fancy weddings. The building and gardens are fine, but not that interesting. There were a lot of fountains that looked like they would be very cool, but they were all turned off.
Just as we were about to leave, the guard asked if we wanted to see the “museum”. This turned out to be the inside of the palace itself and although fairly rundown, it was great to be able to see the original furnishings and fixtures.
Nearby was the Hanuman or monkey temple. There are actually two kinds of monkeys found here, and they don’t get on with each other.
There are the Langur or Hanuman monkeys with their black faces, and the Rhesus monkeys with their more human like features. We saw the priest shooing monkeys away and I presume they were trying to get rid of the Rhesus monkeys and have the Hanuman monkey’s stay. But maybe not.
The temple is actually a complex with several buildings and various discrete temples, all around three hundred years old. Ben and I were taken into one by a priest and introduced to Hanuman, given a bindi and some perfume dots. Kelly and the boys saw a Krishna temple and got bindi-ed and given thread bracelets.
Once we drove back to the newer part of Jaipur we stopped at a modern Vishnu temple. After seeing so many historic temples it was quite interesting to visit a modern one. This one is made of marble and the overall design is similar to some of the historic temples, but simpler. The statues are more contemporary and the interior has several stained glass windows rather than a superabundance of statuary. There was also another temple nearby, but since it was a holiday and the place was very crowded, we decided to give it a pass.
We ended the day with a driving tour of the government district area of the new city before retiring to our hotel.