Nimbin of India!!
16.03.2016 - 16.03.2016
16 March Wednesday - Jaipur part 2 and the trek to Pushkar
So we head to the Amber Fort. Driving through the old city is a salmon pink colour with white detail. Each city in Rajasthan has the old walled city within it. Jaipur is known as the pink city for the colour of the old city. This is where "The Very Best Marigold Hotel" was filmed, and there is a scene where Judy Dench is walking through one of the entry arches ( or exits) to the old city. The entrances are so intricate in design, and cars, tuk tuks, mopeds and pedestrians still use these huge arches to access the old part.
We stop at the Hawa Mahal, The Palace of the Wind. An architectural marvel. Unfortunately it is so large , and on a street, that it is very difficult to photograph. I manage as best I can.
We keep driving through the crazy streets!
Every place has a fort, but this is a beautiful, beautiful fort.
Driving along the road to the fort, we come across a lake, high above is the fort. The road up to the fort ( like many!) is long and steep. Building the forts so high up was clearly so they could see people approaching. To be honest, there's no way you could run up to the front doors to the fort as it is hard going!
We catch an elephant up to the top. Two to an elephant. Our elephant Driver /rider tells us he owns his elephant. His grandfather and father are elephant riders. We ask him lots of questions about his treatment of the elephant......does he feed him, water him, care for him. He says that his elephant is his life, his families life, and they respect them. The elephants only work for about 2 hours in the morning. Then they go home to rest, eat and do whatever elephants do! The colours again, and still, are incredible. The views across the water to a rooftop garden, exquisitely manicured, and then we are told this garden is only for the Maharaja and Maharani can go there. The Maharaja ( and the wife, the Maharani) are like the kings and Queens of towns. They are direct descendants, and still rule over their kingdom/ town/area.
The fort itself is so big. It is impossible to fathom just how big these forts are! Many are surrounded by further walls on the surrounding hills, the remnants of the whole walled cities that existed.
The design of these- the Amber Fort has all the aqueducts showing how water was transported from the lake to the rooms of the fort. Incredible engineering in a time when it must have been quite incredible to ensure readily available water.
Each arch way leads into another square, another amazing engineering feat. The small holes in the walls, amazingly intricate patterns are slanted upwards. From inside, you can not see out, and from the outside cannot see in, but this was their air flow. Glass didn't exist, and there are places where you can see the solid rock, and how they did the rudimentary hole and then carved shapes, stars, octagons, circles shaped like flowers. The detail is awe inspiring.the painting is indescribable, and to their credit, this fort is loved, men working on maintaining, fixing and repairing, ensuring the fort is available to educate for the years to come.
Each area we enter is like a new world of beauty. Photos can never do these places justice.
We leave the Amber Fort and stop for lunch first. Pizza Hut and Baskin Robbins! Curry does sometimes start to get a bit repetitive......so we welcome the different food. Of course, the toppings are different to home and we decide the tandoori chicken, and nacho pizza are the bomb! Baskin Robbins also has dice T flavours, but we mostly stick to chocolate!
We start the drive to Pushkar.
Road is not too bad- a main road of sorts, interspersed with small internal roads. Mick often complains about my 'back street loving', taking a maze of minor roads to each our destination. Saheed is also a back road lover, but sometimes the on.y roads to the towns/ cities are minor. Avoiding cows and other animals is now so normal that we don't even gasp anymore.
We stop for Chai at a Chai Wallah- roadside shop where they, again, make it using family recipes. Hot, and served with milk and sugar ( although most of us now request no sugar) it is so tasty.
On the road again and after another 2 hours we stop at a dhaba for lunch. Our standard order has become vegetable curry, potato curry and chickpea curry and sometimes a chicken curry. Always served with naan or chapati.
Back on the road and we eventually arrive at the hippie town of Pushkar.
As towns go, this town is full of Israelis and tourists. Hippie backpackers, mostly fire twirlers living the free and easy life. They smoke weed and eat laced cookies. The shops sell 'special lassi' again laced with hash. Locals however do not really like the hippies. They are rude, dirty and walk around with bare feet. The Israelis are not well respected here- many locals do not like their effect on the town, but of course, the shopkeepers like the income. The handicrafts here were amazing. Cushions and bags with the tiny mirrors sewn in, patchwork, a maze of colour.
We stay in a hotel called Hotel Kishan Palace, a hotel owned and run by two Punjabi brothers. The walls are entirely covered in murals. Every halls, walls, rooms and bathrooms. They tell me that they have had an artist working on it for 9 years. We are shown to our rooms. The doors are like shaped wooden doors into a castle! The locks are huge, heavy old brass locks, with heavy keys. As always, the rooms are basic, but comfortable and clean. The switches for hot water and power are usually located outside the door. We are now used to turning it on. I've also gotten ready, walked into the bathroom, gotten u dressed and turned on the tap only to realise I have t switched the water on. We reverse the ritual, turn it on, wait 10 minutes, and try again!
We head out for a walk through the town and the markets, and for dinner. We find a little eatery and order kebabs! They take a while to arrive, but the wait was worth it! Off back through the maze of tiny streets to our hotel for slumber!