Tuesday, May 28, 2013

India Travelogue: Jaipur (Day 2)

Oh my, I can't believe that it's been 2 months since my trip to India and I still haven't finished my travelogue! Anyway, seeing as I have some time now since I am on a two-week break from school (work is still ongoing though *weep*), I might as well write about my last day in Jaipur.

We stayed at the Jaipur Inn which was so kitschy cute and insanely homey. For the duration of our trip, we chose to stay at 3-star hotels and we weren't disappointed. My favorite would be (obviously) the Jaipur Inn because the room was huge. The downside? There weren't a lot of selections for breakfast since understandably, it is family-owned. The owner, though, was very warm and attended to our every need.

We woke up early on our 5th and final day to go ride the elephants to Amber Fort. It is recommended to be there before 9:00 AM because the lines are long and the elephants get cranky by 10:00 AM because of the heat.

On the way, we passed by the "Hawa Mahal" Palace of the Winds which was under restoration. It was constructed in 1799, it has 5 floors that contains rows of small windows and screens. The wind flows through these small windows where women used to peek through to observe their surroundings. As mentioned in my previous entries, during those times royal women's faces were not allowed to be seen by men.

The Hawa Mahal has since gotten a facelift where the small windows were sealed shut using Belgian Glass, which means that wind cannot pass through anymore :(

More photos, a typical morning in Jaipur...

The onward we go to the Amber Fort. On the way, we passed by Jal Mahal ("Water Palace") located in the middle of Man Sagar Lake.

Due to urbanisation of Jaipur and areas surrounding the lake, the lake deteriorated drastically and exhibited a foul smell. Thanks to restoration efforts which started in early 2000, the lake is slowly being rehabilitated and is now inhabited by birds.

The majestic Amber Fort up in Cheel ka Teela (Hill of Eagles) -- I cannot wait!

We passed by the famous baby elephant, I forgot the name!

The elephant ride was part of the tour that was already paid for, so I don't have the exact amount per person. But, this was taken at around 9:00 AM and look at that long line of tourists!

Chia, Tish, Me
the parentals

The elephant rides go through the narrow passage through the Sun Gate and usually takes around 20 minutes, although our friends rode on a very gregarious elephant and ended up getting there ahead of everyone else! Imagine having to bring passengers up several times in the morning under the heat of the sun, I felt bad for the elephants :(

I am smiling in this photo but my hands were cold and clammy during the ride. Our elephant stopped midway and I was so scared that it might stand up on its hind legs and we would fall down the steep hill! I swear, I was really praying to God that our elephant wasn't in a bad mood! To add to my fear, the mahout kept hitting the elephant on the head with his blunt instrument but the elephant didn't budge! Turned out it was tired already and needed to do #1, haha.

I still don't approve of the hitting of the elephants, though. I was advised by the tour guide that the mahouts only ride female elephants as they are less aggressive and easier to control.

what a magnificent view!

And we have arrived at Amber Fort. We were greeted by drums, music and lots of photographers.
This was the place where armies would hold victory parades with their war bounty on their return from battles, which were also witnessed by the Royal family women folk through the latticed windows. This gate was built exclusively and was provided with guards as it was the main entry into the palace. It faced the eastern direction towards the rising Sun and hence the name. Royal cavalcades and dignitaries entered the palace through this gate (source).
Ganesh Pol
Ganesh Pol or the Ganesh Gate, named after the Hindu god Lord Ganesh who removes all obstacles in life, is the entry into the private palaces of the Maharajas. It is a three level structure which has many frescoes and was also built at the orders of the Mirza Raja Jai Singh(1621–1627) and leads to the private quarters of the royal family. Above this gate is the Suhag Mandir where ladies of the royal family used to watch through the latticed windows functions held in the Diwan-i-Am.
exquisite crafted marble
These are mirrored ceilings and walls in the Third Courtyard where the private quarters of the Maharaja, his family and attendants were built. 

Also known as Sheesh Mahal (mirror palace), the mirror mosaics and coloured glasses were "glittering jewel box in flickering candle light". However, most of this work was allowed to deteriorate during the period 1970–80 but has since then been subjected to a process of restoration and renovation. Carved marble relief panels are placed on walls around the hall.
my sunburn is starting to show in this photo
another latticed window where women of the Royal household can observe without being seen

See those 4 hooks on the ceiling? Back in the day they would attach a large swing there where the Queen can sit during the afternoon to keep cool.

Amber Fort was wonderful! Wish I could show you all the photos we took that day. It really made me admire India's rich history and culture :)

Now, we're off to New Delhi for another 4-5 hours on the road to catch our 1:00 AM flight back to Manila. But since we had the best driver ever (I kid you not, he did not complain the entire trip!), we requested that he drive us to Sarojini market so we can buy pasalubong.

monkeys by the roadside
we asked our driver, Chand, to sing us a song and he gladly obliged!
This is Sarojini Market, the "Greenhills" of New Delhi. I bought scarves for my officemates for only 50 Rupees each (roughly Php 35-40 each). 

It was fun shopping here, lots of cheap stuff! We only had 2 hours to shop so we only bought scarves, tops and some bottoms.

And so our tiring but very inspiring trip to India ends here. For posterity, we had our photo taken with our driver, Chand, who was such a good driver. I even wrote to the travel agency to commend him -- he never complained, picked us up and drove us to our destination cities on time, and even agreed to drive us around the city. When we requested for KFC, he even drove us there even when it was out of the way. Our driver on the first day didn't want to pass by any fastfood chains and only chose to bring us to high end restaurants. I am guessing that he may be given commissions if he brings in tourists to specific places.

Nevertheless, I would encourage everyone to please go visit India. Include it in your bucketlist and start with the Golden Triangle: New Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. Thank you also to our travel agent, Shivam, for creating our itinerary. And of course, thank you to Philippine Airlines for the wonderful service on-board (PS: My sister works at Philippine Airlines).

If you are planning to visit India, I can also give you the travel agent that organized our tour. Just send me an email :)

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  1. Nggghh! India is in my travel bucket list! This post made me more determined to go there! <3

    1. You should go!!! It's a magical place, just be careful because there are some parts that aren't safe. Don't go walking around [by yourself] after dark :p

  2. jakieandthebeadstalkAugust 28, 2013 at 9:38 AM

    it's in my bucket list too! hay! too many places to go to, so little time and so little money. hehehehehe. love your posts!thank you for sharing them

  3. You're welcome! Major ipon yan, it's expensive to go to India!

  4. jakieandthebeadstalkAugust 28, 2013 at 10:44 AM

    Hindi lang yata piggy bank ang kailangan kong punuin eh... Mukhang Major Major Central Bank of the Philippines