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54 ~ Jal Mahal or Water Palace + Albert Hall Museum : Jaipur

Flies were an issue


View India 18 - 19 on bruceontour's travel map.

Back into car at 1.25pm / 13:25 and into Jaipur for a late lunch at Green Pigeon.

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Green Pigeon is popular with foreigners probably due to the local guides taking them there. It was almost exclusively full of tourists.

Live cultural music. (Yes, you are expected to tip the dancers).

The first instrument that the man is playing is called Ravanhatha, similar to an instrument called ektara, meaning one string instrument.

The boy is holding an instrument called Khartal. Very widely used over Rajasthan, probably in every nook and children's learn this from very young age, though requires a lot of stamina and strength.

Ravanahatha is a primitive string instrument, made up of locally available materials like bamboo, metal pipes and strings, coconut shell, leather, and horse’s hair. It is largely believed fact that Ravanahatha is the precursor for the modern day string instruments like violin. Evidently, the method of playing a Ravanahatha is quite identical to that of playing a violin. It too includes a bow that is drawn across the strings to create musical vibrations. Furthermore, just alike violin, Ravanahatha has a fingerboard which is used to play the octaves.

The Khartal is another form of percussion commonly used for devotional/spiritual purposes. A bit like clappers, the Khartal has two pieces; one held in each hand. The “male” piece is thicker and held with the thumb, while the “female” piece is thinner, and balanced by the ring finger. “It has derived its name from [the] Hindi words ‘kara’ mean[ing] hand, and ‘tala’ mean[ing] clapping” (Wikipedia). This wooden clapper has metallic discs or plates that produce a clinking sound when clapped together. Therefore, it would be considered an Idiophone due to the combined properties of the vibrator and resonator. Rapid and complex rhythms are encouraged, as this instrument represents assertiveness, strength, and stamina.

https://www.ohmyrajasthan.com/ravanahatha

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Flies were an issue.

Not good Trip Advisor reviews though!

Anyway, for me it was a Kingfisher lager 300 rupees / NZ$6.10 / US$4.20.
Chicken shami kebab 420 rupees / NZ$8.60 / US$5.90.
Garlic naan 100 rupees / NZ$2 / US$1.40.
Plus GST and a tip came to 1,000 rupees / NZ$20.20 / US$14.

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Chicken shami kebab

I read several times afterwards comments like this … Our driver recommended this place, so got suckered into it, we noticed lots of guides and drivers waiting outside so I assume they get commission for taking you.

https://www.facebook.com/GreenPigeonJaipur/?ref=py_c

Two more brief stops ….

Jal Mahal ~ Water Palace

Got to the Jal Mahal or Water Palace at 3.50pm / 15:50.

The Jal Mahal is the beautiful palace that appears to be floating on the still waters of lake Sagar. This iconic palace was constructed by the Muhjah during the 18th century as an overnight lodge, for use during his duck hunting trips. The Jal Mahal is one of the most charismatic buildings of Jaipur but can only be viewed from the banks of the lake, so a visit is usually less than 15 minutes.

Possibly the most serene sight amidst the chaos of Jaipur is the beautiful Jal Mahal Jaipur, the Water Palace. This low-rise symmetrical palace, that once was a shooting lodge for the Maharajah, appears to float in the centre of Sagar Lake. The light sand coloured stone walls of the Jal Mahal Jaipur are at a stark contrast to the deep blue of the waters of the lake, while from the innards of the palace lush foliage sprouts.

Tourists who view the Water Palace from the banks of Lake Sagar are often unaware of the technological and design achievements of the ancient palace. Though the palace only appears to be a single story there are actual a further four submerged levels. The solid stone walls hold back millions of litres of water and the special designed lime mortar has prevented water seepage for over 250 years.

The Jal Mahal was constructed from pink sandstone and follows the classical Rajput symmetrical style which is found throughout of Rajasthan. Jaipur’s government has made a tremendous effort to improve both the palace and the surrounding lake. Less than 10 years ago the palace was an abandoned ruin with water leaking in while the lake was a foul smelling sewage outlet but today wildlife teems within the lake’s waters a the place is back to its former glory.

The Jal Mahal when translated into English means the Water Palace but the complex was never intended to be used as a palace by Maharaja Madho Singh I. Madho Singh, who constructed the Jal Mahal in 1750, simply wished it to be a lodge for himself and his entourage during his duck hunting parties. Madho’s son Madho Singh II greatly enhanced the Jal Palace during the 18th century interior of the palace adding the courtyard grounds and much of the exterior as seen today.

http://www.jaipur-travel-guide.com/Jaipur-attractions/Jal-Mahal-Jaipur-Water-Palace.html

Anyway, it was as usual the scenes on the footpath with the locals that really interested me.

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Albert Hall Museum

Finally, at 4.30pm / 16:30 got to the outside of the Albert Hall Museum.

Here is the link to Tripsavvy:

This old and famous museum was modeled on the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, with a fusion of Islamic and Neo-Gothic architecture. It was established as a public museum in 1887. The collection includes portraits of local kings, costumes, woodcarvings, paintings, and arts and crafts. The museum is particularly notable for its Egyptian mummy, belonging to the Ptolemaic dynasty. Unfortunately photography isn't allowed. The museum is beautifully illuminated after dark and it opened for night viewing in 2015.

https://www.tripsavvy.com/top-jaipur-attractions-1539207

http://alberthalljaipur.gov.in/

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Back to the hotel 4.40pm / 16:40 at the end of a rather full on day.

Was supposed to meet JD, my G Adventure’s CEO from one of my last India trips but he had to pull out at the last minute.

Dinner was next door in the food court at Vijs Bar-Be-Q = Tandoori chicken - Boneless tender dinner marinated skewered in a clay oven served with mint sauce 329 rupees / NZ$6.70 / US$4.60.
Garlic naan 60 rupees NZ$1.20 / US$0.80.
Plus GST came to 408 rupees / NZ$8.30 / US$5.70.

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"If you got to go, then you just got to go"

Seen around Jaipur.

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Posted by bruceontour 00:09 Archived in India Tagged jaipur albert_hall_museum jal_mahal water_palace ravanhatha khartal Comments (0)

53 ~ Amber Fort : Jaipur

Quicker if we had walked!


View India 18 - 19 on bruceontour's travel map.

It took little time to drive out to Amber Fort.

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Papad

Perched on a hill 11km from Jaipur and nestling among the Aravali Hills is the historic fort-palace of Amber.

Here is the link to Tripsavvy:

Amber Fort is perhaps the most well-known fort in India. It gets its name from the small heritage town of Amber (also known as Amer) where it's situated, about 20 minutes northeast Jaipur. Rajput ruler Maharaja Man Singh I began constructing the fort in 1592. Successive rulers added to it and occupied it until Jaipur was built and the capital relocated there in 1727. Now, it's one of Jaipur's top tourist attractions.

The fort is part of a group of six hill forts in Rajasthan that were declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2013 (the others are Jaisalmer Fort, Kumbhalgarh, Chittorgarh, Ranthambore Fort, Gagron Fort and Amber Fort). Its architecture is a magnificent blend of Hindu and Mughal influences. Made out of sandstone and white marble, the fort complex consists of a series of courtyards, palaces, halls and gardens. The Sheesh Mahal (Mirror Palace) is widely regarded as the most beautiful part of it, with intricately carved, glittering walls and ceilings.

https://www.tripsavvy.com/top-palaces-and-forts-in-india-1539345

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He is like the vendor in Udaipur selling chana jor garam. Made of flattened chick peas which is smashed into a disc when wet, sundried or roasted (ideally) and spiced with masalas, sold as a very popular street food.

It is the onion which he is peeling and going to chop. This is how most of the vendors chop or peel their veges when they have no space.

Ask Indian housewives, you would hardly see any chopping boards in kitchen as paring knife is used to chop all sort of veggies with both hands.

Chana jor garam is normally roasted with charcoal pot which just sits on the pile of chanas. As per your order, he will mix and toss it in a paper for you with onion, green chillies, lemon juice, chat masala, black salt and coriander leaves.

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Pagdi (Turban) is a Rajasthani headwear worn by men and made up of cotton (printed).

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Papad

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Being so late now, the elephants who took the tourists up to the fort in the morning were returning plus we had to endure the lengthy traffic jam. It was because of all the domestic Indian tourists visiting what was certainly the number 1 site on this part of the trip.

It took an hour from when I first saw the fort till the car reached the car park at the top of the fort itself. Quicker if we had walked!

With the traffic on the one way in stopping for such long periods of time, Push suggested we get out and first up was to see the Panna Meena Ka Kund stepwell near Kheri Gate. Not allowed to climb down the stairs.

I wish I had more time as I was told no photos, but I took some then later read this ….

Entry to the step well is officially free but be warned, the patrolling policeman will probably try to charge you 150 rupees to go inside. I found that the best way to avoid paying was to ask him lots of questions about the entry fee such as “Where is the price list?”, “Do you provide actual tickets?”, or “Can I have a receipt?” and he will soon be so frustrated that he will stop hassling you, leaving you to wander down the steps and take as many photographs as your heart desires.

http://www.manvsglobe.com/panna-meena-ka-kund-visit-jaipur-stepwell-baori/

While Push waited to see the car catching up, I quickly saw this one which was bigger and square compared to the rectangular shaped stepwell that I had seen in Delhi.

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Popcorn

Then back into the car and not much further along it was out again so I could see the Jagat Shiromani Temple.

Jagat Shiromani is a Hindu temple situated in Amer, India. This temple is dedicated to the Hindu gods Meera bai, Krishna and Vishnu. It was constructed between 1599-1608 AD by Queen Kanakwati, who was the wife of King Man Singh 1st. The temple was built in the memory of their son Jagat Singh.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jagat_Shiromani_Temple,_Amer

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A yell from Push saying that the car was approaching so that was it.

Two unexpected bonuses.

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Finally got to the top car park at 12.45pm / 12:45.

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Push was well known by the Amber Fort staff, so it was using this personal knowledge and relationship plus using the “short cuts” he took me to just the highlights. He quickly picked up that I was a photographer and didn’t want to know the history so many thanks for this.

https://www.tripsavvy.com/jaipur-amber-fort-guide-4123752

If you arrive by car you will enter through the Chand Pol (Moon Gate) on the opposite side of Jaleb Chowk.

From Jaleb Chowk, an imposing stairway leads up to the main palace, but first it’s worth taking the steps just to the right, which lead to the small Siladevi Temple, with its gorgeous silver doors featuring repoussé (raised relief) work.

Heading back to the main stairway will take you up to the second courtyard and the Diwan-i-Am (Hall of Public Audience), which has a double row of columns, each topped by a capital in the shape of an elephant, and latticed galleries above.

The maharaja’s apartments are located around the third courtyard – you enter through the fabulous Ganesh Pol, decorated with beautiful frescoed arches. The Jai Mandir (Hall of Victory) is noted for its inlaid panels and multimirrored ceiling. Carved marble relief panels around the hall are fascinatingly delicate and quirky, depicting cartoon-like insects and sinuous flowers. Opposite the Jai Mandir is the Sukh Niwas(Hall of Pleasure), with an ivory-inlaid sandalwood door and a channel that once carried cooling water right through the room. From the Jai Mandir you can enjoy fine views from the palace ramparts over picturesque Maota Lake below.

The zenana (secluded women’s quarters) surrounds the fourth courtyard. The rooms were designed so that the maharaja could embark on his nocturnal visits to his wives’ and concubines’ respective chambers without the others knowing, as the chambers are independent but open onto a common corridor.

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/india/attractions/amber-fort/a/poi-sig/1286368/1329231

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Push had done much of the restoration of the glass work here and showed me what he had done. Such craftsmanship.

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With the balloon ride taking so long plus the really heavy traffic, my time here was limited so a return visit in the future would certainly not go astray.

Posted by bruceontour 01:17 Archived in India Tagged jaipur amber_fort stepwell panna_meena_ka_kund_stepwell panna_meena_ka_kund jagat_shiromani_temple jagat_shiromani chana_jor_garam Comments (0)

52 ~ Hawa Mahal = Palace of the Winds : Jaipur

“Express” path bypassing the many local tourists


View India 18 - 19 on bruceontour's travel map.

Back at 10am / 10:00 and after a hasty change out of my layers of merino, a quick breakfast left at 10.30am / 10:30 for Hawa Mahal also known as the Palace of the Winds.

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Here is the link to Tripsavvy:

The intricate and fascinating facade of the Palace of the Winds is probably Jaipur's most recognized building. Constructed in 1799, it has five floors that contain rows of small windows and screens. Wind used to flow through the openings, giving the palace its name. However, the wind has now gone from the Wind Palace as most of the windows have been sealed shut. Legend has it that the palace, which overlooks the main street of Jaipur's lively Old City, was built so that the women of the royal household could watch the streets below without being observed. A panoramic view can be had from the top of the building.

https://www.tripsavvy.com/top-jaipur-attractions-1539207

http://www.hawa-mahal.com/

From behind it was a climb up the five stories to the top. Again, it was Push's personal relationship with the local staff on duty that we had an “express” path bypassing the many local tourists who were queuing to go up.

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Then down and a walk along the front of Hawa Mahal as seen in the tourist brochures. The elaborate façade contains 953 small casements or to me windows with shutters in a huge curve. Each had its own balcony and crowning arch.

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It was then off at 11.50am / 11:50 to see Amber Fort.

Posted by bruceontour 00:10 Archived in India Tagged jaipur hawa_maha palace_of_the_winds Comments (0)

51 ~ "Up, Up and Away" in my beautiful balloon : Jaipur

Day 14 : Children madly running down the roads & across the fields trying to follow the balloon


View India 18 - 19 on bruceontour's travel map.

Both alarms were set for 4.45am / 04:45 with a 5.15am / 05:15 pick up. Another couple from the hotel had also booked this hot air balloon trip so the 3 of us were taken 60 minutes through Jaipur streets still fast asleep and out north towards town of Chandwaji.

"Up, Up and Away" is a 1967 song written by Jimmy Webb and recorded by the 5th Dimension was certainly in my mind as I waited for lift off.
“Would you like to ride in my beautiful balloon
Would you like to ride in my beautiful balloon
We could float among the stars together, you and I
For we can fly we can fly
Up, up and away”

This scheduled one hour balloon ride was not cheap but was to be my luxury treat for this trip. NZ$425 / US$290 / just over 20,000 rupees.

http://www.skywaltz.com/

It was my second hot air balloon experience having done a low level one in Cambodia back in 2012.

http://v2.travelark.org/travel-blog-entry/bruceontour/9/1356219664

Three balloons today and I was in the smallest one with just 8 passengers. The largest one took just over 20 people in its wicker basket. Having sent a few days earlier my weight for load distribution, it was liftoff in the Chomu Sub-District at 7.10am / 07:10.

Being out in the open I was prepared for the cold with beanie, silk scarf, 3 layers of short and long sleeve merino tops, sleeveless fleece vest and an outer wind shell jacket. Yes, it was 5C / 40 F but I certainly did not feel the cold at all.

Yes ... lots of photos / videos ...

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Our Spanish Captain Arturo

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The sun had not risen above the far horizon as we gathered height.

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Such peace and the low lying fog blanketed the fields below.

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The local were outside their houses waving at us as we drifted above them.

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Soon it was time to come down and our Spanish Captain Arturo spotted a field and at 8.17am / 08:17 touch down.

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Unfortunately, it had no vehicle access so with the many children and adults surrounding the balloon it was lift off again. We had over 2 hours of gas so no problems here.

So, at 8.28am / 08:28 lift off and with the children madly running down the roads and across the fields trying to follow the balloon, it was a real unexpected bonus to spend more time above the countryside.

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Second touchdown at 8.50am / 08:50 and landed in the Shahpura Sub-District.

No issues with access for the support vehicles who were closely following us.

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Certificates handed out and a group photo before being taken back to Jaipur late!

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Was initially told that we would be back at 9.30am / 09:30.

Twenty minutes later leaving at 9.09am / 09:09, thankfully the traffic wasn’t that bad as we headed back into Jaipur.

Posted by bruceontour 00:08 Archived in India Tagged jaipur hot_air_balloon skywaltz Comments (0)

50 ~ Colourful, cheerful, shopping mayhem Bapu Bazar, Jaipur

No experience like no other!


View India 18 - 19 on bruceontour's travel map.

Back into the car and off to Bapu Bazar and the start of another crowded bustling walk in amongst the locals.

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Walked along part of Chand Pole Bazar Rd. This market is famous for its artificial jewellery, bright bandhej / bandhani saree and suits, leather juttis, colourful Mojris (footwear), silver and artificial jewellery, gems, lac handmade bangles in vibrant shades, traditional hand block print fabrics, colourful bed sheets and rajais (quilts) etc.

Tiny shops half spilling out into the narrow footpath. Shops were on pavements, mobile carts, street vendors, mega buildings, small ones tucked in corners ... shops galore or shoppers’ paradise … shops, people, cars, buses, rickshaws, autos, cows, dogs and of course the shoppers were everywhere.

It was certainly colourful and cheerful mayhem! It was an experience like no other!

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Is it a lamp standard?

This is a wedding lamp, normally used in the procession.

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Then nearby Push showed me some of the glass work that he was currently restoring in a haveli that was also under restoration.

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Lastly, it was the inevitable jewellery factory with the … you guess it, shop at the end. No thank you.

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Back to the hotel at 5pm / 17:00.

From my room there was a view down into the neighbouring shopping centre.

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Plus, what about the large window between the bedroom and bathroom?

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Got a 360-degree view over the city from the hotel roof top swimming pool.

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Then back down on my 4th floor and took the sunset pictures from behind the glass window.

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Sun finally set in the distance at 5.40pm / 16:40.

Dinner in the hotel restaurant = Gosht biryani - Prime cuts of lamb cooked with basmati rice, finished in dum served with burrani raita 525 rupees / NZ$10.60 / US$7.30.
Plus GST and a tip came to 650 rupees / NZ$13.20 / US$9.10.
Won’t talk about the slack service when I asked for the bill.

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Posted by bruceontour 22:10 Archived in India Tagged jaipur bapu_bazar Comments (0)

49 ~ Ganges water to unclean London! City Palace : Jaipur

World’s largest single silver item


View India 18 - 19 on bruceontour's travel map.

Next door was City Palace.

Here is the link to Tripsavvy:

Situated at the center of the Old City of Jaipur, the City Palace Complex was built mainly between 1729 and 1732 by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II. He had been successfully ruling from nearby Amber Fort but increasing population and water shortage made him decide to relocate his capital to Jaipur in 1727.

The royal family still lives in the Chandra Mahal part of the palace (their family flag flies atop it when the Maharaja is in residence), while the remainder has been converted into the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II museum. For a hefty fee (2,500 rupees for foreigners and 2,000 rupees for Indians), you can take the Royal Grandeur tour through the inner quarters of the Chandra Mahal. Otherwise you'll have to be content with exploring the rest of the palace.

The most eye-catching part of it is Pitam Niwas Chowk, the interior courtyard that leads to the Chandra Mahal. It has four beautifully painted doors, or gates, representing the four seasons and dedicated to Hindu gods Vishnu, Shiva, Ganesh, and Goddess Devi (the mother goddess). The peacock motifs on the doorway of Peacock Gate are particularly stunning and widely photographed.

https://www.tripsavvy.com/top-palaces-and-forts-in-india-1539345

Here is the link to Tripsavvy:

Upon visiting the magnificent City Palace, it's easy to see that the royal family of Jaipur was one of the richest in India. The palace's huge complex of courtyards, gardens, and buildings blends both Rajasthani and Mughal architecture. The royal family lives still lives there, in the graceful Chandra Mahal. It's possible to access the private rooms, with a personal guide, for an additional cost. Also inside the City Palace complex is a museum, art gallery, and interesting displays of royal costumes and old Indian weapons.

https://www.tripsavvy.com/top-jaipur-attractions-1539207

https://royaljaipur.in/

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Rajendra Pol

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Mubarak Mahal – Welcome Palace

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Rajendra Pol

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Mubarak Mahal – Welcome Palace

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Chandra Mahal

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Chandra Mahal

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The most unique feature are the two huge silver water containers and are the world’s largest single silver items. These were used to transport Ganges water to unclean London!

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Was 3pm / 15:00 when I was finished here.

Posted by bruceontour 22:52 Archived in India Tagged jaipur city_palace Comments (0)

48 ~ Modern day sculpture park or ancient Observatory?Jaipur

Day 13 : Jantar Mantar Observatory was a real surprise


View India 18 - 19 on bruceontour's travel map.

Another 9am / 09:00 departure so there was after another double breakfast time for a walk around the resort taking the day time images in the previous entry.

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Took just 2.5 hours to get to the Pink City of Jaipur.

Surrounded on three sides by the rugged Aravali hills, Jaipur is the picturesque capital of Rajasthan. It takes its name from the prince, soldier and astronomer Jai Singh II who moved his capital here in 1727. Jaipur is notable for its distinctive pink-orange colouring. The whole of the old city, including many fine palaces and buildings was constructed from solid blocks of sandstone or faced with the same stone. But it was only in 1853 that it gained its famous title, the ‘Pink City’ - it was painted pink for the first time in honour of a visit from Prince Albert.

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Check into the Fortune Metropolitan, a 4 star hotel.

https://www.fortunehotels.in/jaipur-fortune-select-metropolitan.dh.41

A short break before the 1pm / 13:00 departure for the city tour. So, it was next door into the adjourning shopping centre to see what was there.

Pushpendra (Push) was my local guide for Jaipur. With his pink baseball cap and tall stature, he was really easy to spot.

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Push

Then off to Jantar Mantar Observatory.

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All these small chemists / pharmacies opposite the hospital

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The open air Jantar Mantar Observatory was a real surprise. As one brochure said it was more like a modern day sculpture park than an ancient Observatory.

Here is the link to Tripsavvy:

Jantar Mantar, built by King Jai Singh II between 1727 and 1734, literally means "calculation instrument". More than just a curious collection of sculptures, each structure at the intriguing Jantar Mantar observatory has a specialized astronomical function. There are 14 structures in total, which measure time, predict eclipses, and track stars. The most impressive one is the huge Samrat Yantra sundial. At a height of 90 feet (27 meters), it has a shadow that moves roughly the width of a person's hand every minute. It's a profound display of how quickly time does in fact go!

https://www.tripsavvy.com/top-jaipur-attractions-1539207

Push gave me the briefing, showed me the best places to take photos and then for the next 30 minutes let me loose to snap away.

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Laghu Samrat Yantra

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Samrat Yantra

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Samrat Yantra

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Jai Prakash Yantra

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Narivalaya Yantra

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Laghu Samrat Yantra

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Chakra Yantra

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Ram Yantra

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Ram Yantra

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Papadom is a term used mostly in South India where as in north they just call it as papad.

You see a lot of papad's being sold in Rajasthan because of the heat. Normally papad's are made at home and sundried on sarees or old bed sheets.

The papad variety starts from Dal (lentil), chawal (rice), chana (chick pea), sabu dana (tapioca), hari mirch (green chilli) ... and so on.

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Posted by bruceontour 23:40 Archived in India Tagged jaipur pink_city jantar_mantar_observatory jantar_mantar Comments (0)

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