Saturday, January 30, 2010

JAIPUR

Jaipur is known as the Pink City. Most of the buildings were painted pink to welcome the Prince of Wales in 1876. It doesn't look as if it has been touched up since then although we were told that the buildings do get a fresh coat annually. Jaipur is famous for two reasons. 1) The biggest and baddest bazaars in the region and 2) The Amber Fort (A Rajput masterpiece) which Bill Clinton is said to have roamed when he was in Office. Leave it to slick willy to make his mark everywhere while he served as prez. Jaipur is considered the capital of the state(region) of Rajasthan. Jaipur achieved independence in 1947, not so long ago. In 1949, Jaipur merged with the Rajput states of Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Bikamer to become the Greater Rajasthan Union with Jaipur being honored the Head of State status. There were over 2M people living in Jaipur at the time. Not sure what it is today. My guess is that it must be well over 3M people.

Jaipur is the chosen location for various festivals and fairs for two reasons. 1) it is the biggest city in the northern Rajasthan region other than Delhi and 2) because of its geographical location as it is situated right smack in the middle of the northern part of India. We were lucky enough to attend a literary festival/fair which was in full gear in the couple of days that we were there. It was a lot of fun! Basically, all of the best known authors in and outside of the region come every year to promote books and to just get touchy, feely with their fans. It is a very lavish fair that they put on. Music, dancing, great speakers and lots of good food. It was a refreshing alternative to the usual stuff we were experiencing.

Jaipur is named after its founder, the great warrior-astronomer Jai Singh II(1688-1744) who came to power at the age of 11 after the death of his father, Maharaja Bishan. Jai Singh's lineage traces back to the Rajput clan of Kachhwahas who came into power in the 12th century. Their capital way back then was in Amber, just down the road around 6 miles up in the hills where the great Amber Fort is. They had a talent for war and alliances of convenience so the dominion of the Kachhwahas spread, eventually reaching out to the outer regions of Udaipur and Jophpur.

I thought that the bazaars were ok. Nothing really to write home about. In my opinion the market in Pushkar had just as good if not better quality linens and goods. It is the Amber Fort that really catches your eye. Just riding in from the road tells you the whole story. The Fort itself is perched up on a high hill just like most of the forts we saw along the way in other towns. What made this one so special was the sheer size of it. It is massive! There is an outer wall that resembles a small version of the Great Wall of China that spans a gazillion miles. Hopefully Katie will be nice enough again and post some pictures for all of us to see when she makes her post. It’s about 50 feet tall and seemed to go forever. There were three kings that actually lived in the Amber fort over the years that it actually ruled the kingdom back in day. Two of the kings had twelve wives each and one of them had only two wives. Here’s the funny thing: There was a secret passage that each king had that only the king could go through to visit each of his wives. We were able to go through these secret passages. It provided a living quarters that was synchronized by the secret passages so that the king could spend equal time with each of his 12 wives. Must be nice to be the king! The fort is very well built considering when it was actually constructed. It took 15 years to finish building it. I guess they just don’t make them like they used to. They had elephants that you could rent that would take you all along the fort if you wanted. We opted not to as the word is that the elephants are mistreated a lot so we did not want to contribute to that. Overall, Jaipur was a good time.

3 comments:

Anonymous,  January 30, 2010 at 9:01 AM  

HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHRIS! I'm enjoying following you guys on here - have Katie smack you for me for saying it would be nice to have 12 wives - idiot.....

Pat

Margie January 30, 2010 at 8:47 PM  

Chris
What a lot of shared STD's they must have had!Now you know the real reason their life spans were so short! (That is fact not fiction!)The history was really great. I know the pics take a longer to download, edit etc. I am sooo glad we got to see the Taj pics. How is Hanoi?

Katie February 6, 2010 at 2:41 AM  

Thanks, Pat. I gave Chris a smack for ya!

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