Jaipur – The Pink City

Hi all.  An FYI for newbies to this blog:  when you see regular type, it’s Peggi speaking.  Italic is Lisa

So, it’s 2 am on Monday.   Don’t ask what I’m doing up at this hour, my clock is all off.   In 2 hours we get up and prepare to board a train for Jaipur.  Who knows what adventures await us there?  Let me fill you in on Sunday’s adventures in Delhi.

We went sightseeing and walking and shopping and walking and sightseeing.  We took a rickshaw ride through the narrow streets and warrens of the old city.  We saw people and camels and goats and brahma bulls and dogs (interestingly, no cats), and—tah dah—an elephant.  We went from the old narrow, winding alleys to the open, broad avenues of the government section, with its’ huge beautiful buildings that sit symmetrically across from each other and surrounded by parks.  We went to the Gandhi Memorial and to a Lakshmi temple.  And we went shopping.  Probably the less said about that, the better!  We had a wonderful tour guide named B.J. and our driver was Rahul.

Rickshaw ride thru Chandra Chowk

So, that’s the short version of what we did.  What is the experience of this place?  It is wild and chaotic, crowded and crazy.  It is peaceful and calm.  It is the broad smiles of the people and also the frowns.  It is soaring hearts and great sorrows.  It is the richest of the rich and the poorest of the poor. It is a place of extremes—colorful and beautiful and full of life.


Walking into the train station was insane. It was 5:30 in the morning and it was dark.  Walking into the station was difficult as there were people sleeping everywhere and people dragging luggage in all directions in between the sleepers (their trains were delayed).  In the station, up the stairs, over the tracks onto the bridge, then down the stairs and onto the platform, with our escort and our driver carrying our bags!  They helped us onto the train and put our luggage on the rack above us and then said good-bye.  The train was billed as a first class air-conditioned train.  They did not run the air-conditioning but there were fans on the ceiling that we could control.  So, I turned on the fan.  And at the second stop a gentleman got on and sat in front of us.  First thing he did was turn off the fan.  There were no animals or produce or smelly, dirty people but first class it didn’t feel.  We felt amongst the Indian middle class.

80 pounds of luggage on his head and he was running!

Four hours thru the countryside gave us quite a taste of rural India.  Fields, animals, shacks and nicer homes.  People working the land.  And towns, with multistoried buildings.  Electrical plants and other industry.  A smooth ride.  And food service too.  First we got a tray with crackers and candy and a tea kit with 2 tea bags, 2 of the largest sugar packets I’ve ever seen and a packed of dried milk.  Plus a hot water thermos and a cup.  It was delicious.  2 hours later they delivered vegetarian breakfast with a vegetable cutlet, some loose vegetables and 4 soggy French fries!  And catsup and two pieces of commercial white bread with butter and mixed fruit jelly!  And more tea.  The lady sitting next to me made a butter and catsup sandwich. She thought it was delicious.  We were hungry and we enjoyed it.

Sunil met us at the train and helped us through the stairs up and bridge over and stairs down process from the train to the parking lot.  He hired a porter to carry our luggage.  He carried both bags on his head.

Getting down to one lane to go thru one of the 7 gates of Jaipur

The traffic getting out of the station was like the 405 North at 5 pm, except worse.  Took a half hour to go 4 blocks.  Jaipur was a walled city with 7 gates to enter the city, all built several hundred years ago, ie, before cars.  So imagine that all traffic has to narrow to single file to go thru the gate.  Gridlock in a totally different style.  Many of you know that I am quite quirky about traveling in cars.  Simply stated, I drive or I don’t go.  Well, that is out of the question here and was my biggest issue about the trip.  Riding here is the ultimate trip.  And, shockingly, I’m doing fine with it.  No panic attacks here!

Traffic in the rain

Imagine, cars and jeep taxis and little 3 & 4 wheeled tuktuks (electric carts), some with up to 7 or 8 people in them (think of an enclosed golf cart for 2 with 8 people), small trucks, big trucks, small vans, small buses, large vans and enormous buses.  Add bicycle driven rickshaws and hand pulled rickshaws and hand and bicycle driven carts carrying any and everything imaginable from small sacks to giant containers.

Jaipur street scene

And simple bicyclists too.  Plus horse and cow and camel driven carts, also carrying people and merchandise.  Motorcycles, with one, or two, or even 3 or 4 people on it, usually the women in saris ride sidesaddle and the man drives, sometimes with the children in front.  Now add people.  Pedestrians.  Walking, crossing, weaving in and out of the vehicles, stopping to shop in the middle of the road.  Now for the animal kingdom, wandering dogs, cows (brahma bulls and brahma cows), pigs, bulls, goats and elephants.

Wandering Brahma Bull in the street

All the animals seem to wander around everywhere at will.  Often a cow will tire and curl up in the middle of the street for a leisurely nap.  By the way, the streets go from alley size to broad avenues.  They are two way streets, some divided, most not.  So here’s an cross section:  Building, sidewalk, parking lane, with food carts and cloths laid out on the ground with fruits and other merchandise exhibited for sale, driving lane(s) in one direction, sometimes a fence, often with plants or trees, sometimes with a shrine and now the same on the opposite side.

Now to the issue of lanes.  There are marked lanes, but that’s irrelevant to the drivers.  Everyone crowds and pushes to get ahead of the others.  A constant stream of vehicles cutting in on each other, not to mention the wrong way people and the left and U-turners.  People drive/move in everyway imaginable.  It is an intricate dance, the likes of which we’ve only seen here in India.  And now let’s add the sound track.  Horns tooting with all kinds of sounds – long musical toots, short ra-tat-tats, angry non-stop blasts and more, music from the nearby temple playing on speakers in the middle of the street and the sounds of the people themselves .  So far, we’ve never seen an accident.  It’s a dance.

By the way, Lisa and I have now merged!  We are writing this blog together and hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoy writing it.  Drop us an email and let us know!

It seemed like it took as long to get to the hotel from the train station as it took on the Delhi to Jaipur train, but the hotel was worthy of the journey.

The Trident Jaipur. An Oberoi Hotel.  Each staff member greeted us individually with a bow and a Namaste.  We were seated in the lobby and brought a refreshing ginger/lemon drink as a beautiful sari’d woman processed our registration and then she escorted us to our room and expained everything.  Elegance of space, elegance of manner.

Off to lunch we went.  Did I mention that both Lisa and I love Indian food?  And Lisa is much more knowledgeable about it than I am.  And in her opinion, lunch was the finest Indian meal we’ve ever had.  The hotel has a buffet with 6 or 8 Indian dishes and another 6 or 8 international dishes, plus breads and desserts.  And masala chai tea or caffe lattes too.

City Palace Interior

Welcome to Jaipur, the pink city.  The skinny Maharaja declared that all building would be pink, a color pleasing to his wife, and 200 years later, they are still pink.  And beautiful by the way, even the ones in disrepair.

Sightseeing we went!

CITY PALACE – A blend of Mughal and traditional Rajasthani architecture, the City Palace sprawls over one-seventh of the area in the walled city.

World's largest sundial - too bad there is no sun here! Only haze.

JANTAR MANTAR – This is the largest and the best preserved of the five observatories built by Jai Singh II in different parts of the country. This observatory consisting of outsized astronomical instruments is still in use.

"Palace of Winds"

HAWA MAHAL – The ornamental facade of this “Palace of Winds” is a prominent landmark in Jaipur. The five-storied structures of sandstone plastered pink encrusted with fine trelliswork and elaborate balconies. The palace has 953 niches and windows. Built in 1799 by Pratap Singh, the Mahal was a royal grandstand for the palace women.

And then we visited a jewelry factory for a little education and a little shopping.

Lake Palace - the view from our room

We returned to our lovely room. Had a little trouble with the electricity.  I travel with an extension cord to power my sound machine/charger for my iPhone, Lisa’s camera charger and my camera charger and my laptop. I used the converter, plugged in the extension cord and blew the circuits.  We called for an electrician!  A charming man came to our rescue, but he was unsuccessful after blowing the circuits many more times.  His supervisor came and brought us an Indian extension cord and finally all systems were go!

This morning we visited the Laxmi Narayan Temple.  It is a vision in white marble.  We took our shoes off and spent a half hour inside in walking meditation.  Lisa was stoned!  Next we went to Albert Hall, built by the Maharaja to honor Prince Albert of England now housing the Central Museum, was earlier a place of recreation for the royal families.  We were fascinated with the collection, especially the Hindu gods/goddess sculptures.  It was also the scene of a downpour which caught us by surprise giving us quite a drenching.


Then a little shopping for jewelry and for fabrics (custom made clothes).  We were quite successful.  They are delivering my new wardrobe to the room tonight!.

Spinning little dancer-boy and musician (probably dad!)

Neeraj and his guide friend

Niraaj, our guide, settled in with us for lunch at a nearby restaurant, complete with entertainment.  2 of his guide friends joined us for a fascinating conversation and shared meal about tourism in India.

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