It was a very interesting day today. It was mainly a travel day as we drove from Delhi to Jaipur. It is only a 220 kilometer drive, that's about 150 miles. But that is a 6 hour trip on India roads. We traveled on their National Highway #8, a six lane divided toll road. But it's not quite like the toll roads back home. The picture below is one of the first things we saw on the highway.
This was our first time out of the city and into the rural areas. We passed through a lot of little towns.
No telling what you might see on the highway. I'm not sure you can make it out in the picture below, but we are waiting for a camel to cross the road.
In the picture below you can see some cattle having a rest in the median.
People drive just as crazy out here as they do in the city. Want to drive the wrong way into several lanes of on coming traffic? It's not a problem here. Pedestrians, cattle and just about everything you can image wander into traffic, and amazingly there is never an accident. We left the highway near Jaipur to go to the hunting lodge where we are spending the night. We drove through several rural villages on the way to the lodge.
There were interesting things to see on this road as well. Below is a goat stealing some food from three monkeys.
We saw this long line of ladies walking into this home. So we stopped to take their picture. It turns out that they were coming back from a wake because there was a death in the family. The tradition is that the ladies leave while the men stay behind for the cremation.
Below is a man sitting in front of a local store.
In the picture below you can see a bus packed with people. No room left inside so several people had to ride on the roof.
We finally arrived at the lodge. This place gives new meaning to out in the middle of nowhere. This is a former royal hunting lodge. There are only 14 rooms in the entire hotel, and our group occupies them all. So we have the entire hotel to our self.
The first thing we did was have a delicious lunch out on the lawn of the hotel.
After lunch they gave us our rooms. All the rooms are suites or mini-suites. Below is my room.
Actually we aren't supposed to be staying here. There was a computer error that caused us to lose our reservation at the hotel in Jaipur. So we are staying here tonight and will spend the following two nights at the original hotel. After getting settled we drove into Jaipur and visited the Birla Temple pictured below.
I almost got shot taking the picture above. Our guide said we could take pictures outside the temple. When I took this some guard came running over to me blowing his whistle and waving his hands. I walked the other way and he didn't chase me down, so luckily I didn't end up in Indian prison. After leaving the temple we returned to the lodge. It was a very interesting day. Some kids came up to us today and told us that it was the first time they had ever seen white people. They we very nice and polite and wanted to know where we were from and why we had come to India.
You will get this email late as there is no Internet here at the lodge. Sorry, you all must have been really disappointed when you didn't hear from me yesterday.
We had breakfast at the royal hunting lodge this morning and then drove back into Jaipur. There are some people on the tour from the bay area. The Super Bowl was going on back home as we were driving this morning. He updated us on the score from his cell phone. The highlight of today was the Amber Fort. We rode elephants up the hill and into the fort. The picture below was taken from the back of the elephant as we rode to the top.
Below is a picture of me and my traveling companions inside the fort. They are all very nice people.
The picture below is looking down on the ruins from inside the fort.
In the picture below you can see the elephants walking up the hill to the fort.
In the picture below the elephants have reached the top and are entering the fort.
The Maharajah and his wives lived in the palace. Below is a picture of the garden.
This was a very beautiful place. I really enjoyed my visit here. Another view of the garden below. The wall of mirrors is under the arches on the other side.
We rode in jeeps back to the bottom at the end of our visit. They have the most aggressive hawkers you have ever seen outside the fort. They take pictures of you on the elephants as you are riding to the top. Then they swarm on you as you are getting into the jeeps. Mine wanted 1000 Rupees for the pictures. I kept offering him 200 Rupees. He ran along side the jeep halfway down the hill trying to get me to give him more and finally took the 200 as we were about to leave him behind. Next it was off to another damn sales pitch, this one at a jeweler. We passed Jal Mahal (Water Palace) on the way.
Next it was time for lunch at a local restaurant. The food was good again. After lunch we checked into the hotel. Like last night we are staying in another former royal palace. Much bigger place than last night, so we don't have the whole place to ourselves. You feel a little guilty staying in these beautiful palaces, while people are sleeping on the streets just outside the gates.
We're going to be in Jaipur all day again tomorrow. Below is room #233 (my room).
As I am writing this some of the group is at the local market place. I would have liked to have gone just to experience it. But they leave you there for 90 minutes. I didn't want to be there that long so I skipped it. Several people I talked to said they weren't going either. We will be going to dinner later tonight.
Today didn't start off too well, it was rainy and foggy. The first rain we have seen on the trip. After breakfast we drove through the bazaar area. The picture below is just a facade. It is Hawa Mahal, otherwsie known as the Palace of the Winds. Jaipur is known as the pink city. Pink paint is expensive so they paint everything this color.
Jaipur has been classified a World Heritage City by UNESCO. We ditched the bus and switched to jeeps and rode up to Jaigarh Fort. As you can see in the picture below it was a dismal morning.
We walked through the fort, dodging the raindrops for the most part. We saw the largest cannon in the world.
We rode the jeeps back into town after leaving he fort. This is when the weather cleared up. We visited Gaitore, a royal cremation site. You can see that the weather has cleared in the picture below because that is the fort where we just were on the hill above Gaitore.
The site contains many intricately carved structures called chhatris, common in Indian Architecture.
Next we went to the City Palace.
We got to enter the palace through a private entrance as we had an exclusive lunch just for us on the veranda inside the palace.
After lunch we toured the City Palace.
Next we walked across the street to the Jantar Mantar Observatory. Here they have a collection of ancient sundials.
When you are walking around in India you see cows everywhere. When they get old their owners abandon them and the roam the streets just like stay dogs. The cow below followed us back to the bus.
That's it for today. We got back to the hotel at 4:00 and we have this evening to ourselves. Tomorrow we have a seven hour drive to Agra. We'll stop for lunch on the way. Then late tomorrow afternoon we are going to visit the Taj Mahal.
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