Wind, Art, and Elephants; Jaipur, India

[February 2016]

For those interested, I stumbled upon GoIndia to help me plan what I wanted to do in Jaipur. To read about our first day, click here.

We started our second day in Jaipur at the City Palace. It was within walking distance of our hostel, so we went by foot. We were entertained at the entrance with a puppet show. That was delightful. As for the palace itself I found myself relatively unimpressed. The architecture is lovely and there are some beautiful spots, such as the peacock alcoves and the ceilings in the armoury and main hall, but it all just lacked a certain je ne sais pas.

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My favorite part, honestly, was probably the art workshop. Artists will paint for you, involve you in making a carpet, and explain the history and significance of their craft. My favorite was the camel bone paintings. The colors were so vibrant and the detail was extraordinary. I also liked the old rice paper paintings with the city seals on them. It reminded me of the Turkish paintings on pages of the old Ottoman books.

 

We called our driver and he took us to the Albert Hall Museum. This is the oldest State museum in India. It was closed, but the exterior was stunning. Make sure you check operating hours before you go. I was sad to miss this one.

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Since Albert Hall was closed, we had time to squeeze in The Wind Palace. I’m so glad we did as it was the last day to use our combination ticket. This was also my favorite stop of the day. Probably my second favorite stop of our entire week, with first being watching people wash clothes in the river in Agra.

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The palace obviously didn’t have air conditioning, so they would open up all the tiny windows and the ladies would sit there to cool down and maintain discretion as they people watched. It was just fun to wander through the palace and find our way to the top.

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Jaigur Fort was much more peaceful and far less crowded than the Amer Fort. Since it is higher up, you also get a great view of the Amer Fort below, as well as the city wall that I will lovingly refer to as the Great Wall of India.

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Nahargarh Fort was next and my favorite of the three forts! It is basically a collection of interconnected apartments. The built in alcoves and shelves, the colors (some more recently restored), along with the wooden doors and windows give you a nice sense of the high quality of life in the fort. When I wandered up to the roof, looked down to the courtyard, and gazed through the windows I couldn’t help but wonder, much like I have in castles, if there was ever any privacy in such a place.

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When we finished wandering the apartments, we went up to the restaurant to watch the sunset, but they told us we needed to pay 200 rupees to go up to the view point… That’s before we eat, tax, service charge… No, thanks. We found another great spot to sit for free and enjoyed the same sun set.

On the drive down we thought we saw a leopard. Maybe it wasn’t, but it was definitely a member of the giant cat family. Amazing!

The next morning, we wandered the bazaars of Jaipur. We admired tapestries, block-printed sheets, and various other textiles and souvenirs. Afterwards, we asked our driver to take us to Elefantastic. We were surprised when we pulled up to a different elephant farm. We figured he must be receiving a commission to ignore our request like that. This place wanted 4500 INR for a package. We decided to call Elefantastic for more information. They told us they only did packages and it was 4500 INR for the four-hour ordeal. There were not four hours left, so staying where we were was our only option.

I wanted to paint the elephant and Sam wanted to ride the elephant, but at that price I decided to just be the camera woman. We were able to talk them down to 2250 INR since we were not taking a full package. I still think that was a lot for a 30-minute elephant ride but Sam said it was worth it.

I did not get the impression that this farm treated their elephants well. They also were not a very enthusiastic group. I personally wouldn’t go back. From their site, Elefantastic seems to be far more professional, humane, and a better bang for your buck.

When we were finished, we started the drive back to New Dehli.

 

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