Jaipur, also know as the Pink City, is the capital of Rajasthan and home of about 6.5 million people. We only stayed one day, barely sufficient to see the numerous architectural monuments and walk the busy streets. We arrived around noon form Neemrana and went straight to the City Palace, the seat of the Maharaja of Jaipur. Wandering through the various halls gives you a good idea of the local history and culture.
Next stop was Mantar Mantar, a collection of astronomical instrument, built by Jai Singh between 1727 and 1734. The collection is impressive and Samrat Yantra clearly stands out at 27m. Its shadow moves 1mm per second and tells the local Jaipur time with an accuracy of two seconds. We walked around the city center, in the heart of the local market and in front of the beautiful Hawa Mahal, a beautiful palace built of red sandstone that is part of the City Palace complex. It is funny what memories remain most vivid, but the thing that impressed me more in Jaipur is the sight of Indian men with henna dyed hair. I had not been in India before, so the look seemed silly to me. Apparently not to the locals, because it is quite common, to younger and older men alike.
In the afternoon we check in the Rasa Resort, near the Amer Fort, an upper-middle-range tented resort with a big swimming pool. It is nothing special for the money, but the rooms are modern and comfortable. Although it is located only 15km north of Jaipur, beware that it could be more than 60 min drive from the city center during the rush-hour. We were tired, so we did not want to drive two hours back and forth to catch the early evening movie in the Raj Mandir Theatre. This movie theater makes the CNN’s top 10 list and should be the best place to experience Bollywood in its full glory. Maybe next time.
Next morning, the usual routine: Early morning wake up, packing, checking out. We headed to the Amer Fort (also known as Amber Fort), built of sand stone and marble by Raja Man Singh I. It is definitely worth the time to visit, although a bit crowded. Skip the elephant ride and go straight to the top, you ll save time and avoid the touristic cliché. Having said that, on the way out, I fell for one of the good ones: a photo opportunity with the local snake charmer, at the bargain price of 10 USD. You can see me sitting like a fool next to the charmer, his helpers and the snake. I made the charmer crew rich but did not regret it, mainly because one of the helpers had a very interesting and photogenic face worth my clicks.
Next: Agra and the Taj Mahal