SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2013:

This morning we left Delhi bound for Jaipur.
The 150 mile drive would take us over six hours to complete.
Indian roads are not built for speed. We made one rest stop on the way.

The video below is 26 minutes long of my road trip to Jaipur.


All of the images below are thumbnails and can be clicked on for a larger image.

As we were driving along on a rural country road we passed the ladies pictured below.
Indian ladies

Due to a scheduling error we lost our hotel reservation for our first night in Jaipur.
So we spent the first night of our three day stay at a hunting lodge which was
about an hours drive outside the city. The Gateway Hotel Ramgarh Lodge Jaipur
was once the favorite hunting retreat of the Maharaja of Jaipur.
The lodge only has 14 rooms and our group took them all.
The diversion to the lodge turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
The lodge was charming and located in a rural area of India that we
otherwise would not have been able to see.
After checking into the hotel we had a very nice lunch on the lawn.
The middle picture below shows the rural view from the lodge.
The Gateway Hotel Ramgarh Lodge near Jaipur, India View from the Gateway Hotel Ramgarh Lodge near Jaipur, India The Gateway Hotel Ramgarh Lodge near Jaipur, India

The video below is 5 minutes long of the Gateway Hotel Ramgarh Lodge.

After lunch we drove into Jaipur and visited the Birla Temple.
The Birla Temple is situated below the Moti Dungri Fort in Jaipur.
It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi. Built in pure white marble,
the Birla Temple is unlike the traditional ancient Hindu temples, and is built
with a modern approach. Inside this magnificent shrine, beautifully sculpted idols
of Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi, as well as other Hindu Gods and Goddesses, can be seen.
The Birla Temple in Jaipur, India The Birla Temple in Jaipur, India The Birla Temple in Jaipur, India
We then returned to the lodge for the night.

The video below is 3 minutes long of my visit to the Birla Temple.

MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON FEBRUARY 3, 2013
Hello everyone,

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.

Tim



MONDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2013:

Monday morning we had breakfast and the lodge and then drove back into Jaipur.
Jaipur is the capital of the Indian state of Rajasthan.
The first order of business was the magnificent Amer Fort (pronounced and also spelled Amber Fort).
Amer Fort was built by Raja Man Singh in 1592.
We rode elephants as the maharajas once did up to the fort.
The Amber Fort in Jaipur, India The Amber Fort in Jaipur, India The Amber Fort in Jaipur, India

The elephants enter the fort through the Sun Gate.
The Amber Fort in Jaipur, India The Amber Fort in Jaipur, India The Amber Fort in Jaipur, India

Pictured below is the view from the fort and my group inside the fort.
View from the Amber Fort in Jaipur, India My group at the Amber Fort in Jaipur, India The Amber Fort in Jaipur, India

Pictured below is the first courtyard and the Ganesh Pol or the Ganesh Gate,
named after the Hindu god Lord Ganesh who removes all obstacles in life.
This is the entry into the private palaces of the Maharajas.
The Amber Fort in Jaipur, India Ganesh Pol at the Amber Fort in Jaipur, India Ganesh Pol at the Amber Fort in Jaipur, India

The garden in the third courtyard is patterned on the lines of the Chahar Bagh or Mughal Garden.
It is in sunken bed, shaped in a hexagonal design. It is laid out with narrow
channels lined with marble around a star shape pool with a fountain at the center.
This courtyard has two buildings, the building to the left of the entrance gate is called the Jai Mandir,
which is exquisitely beautified with glass inlaid panels and multi-mirrored ceilings.
The mirrors are of convex shape and designed with coloured foil and paint
which would glitter bright under candle nights at the time it was in use.
Also known as Sheesh Mahal (mirror palace).
Mughal Gardens at the Amber Fort in Jaipur, India Mughal Gardens at the Amber Fort in Jaipur, India Mirror Palace at the Amber Fort in Jaipur, India

The video below is 13 minutes long of my visit to the Amber Fort.

The Amber Fort was certainly one of the main highlights of my trip to India.
After leaving the fort we made a photo stop at Jal Mahal (Water Palace).
The palace is located in the middle of the Man Sagar Lake.
Jal Mahal (Water Palace) in Jaipur, India Jal Mahal (Water Palace) in Jaipur, India

After lunch at a local restaurant we checked into the beautiful Jai Mahal Palace Hotel.
The hotel is set amidst 18 acres of beautifully landscaped Moghul gardens.
This incomparable Palace dates back to 1745 A.D.
Jai Mahal Palace Hotel in Jaipur, India Jai Mahal Palace Hotel in Jaipur, India Jai Mahal Palace Hotel in Jaipur, India

The video below is 4 minutes long of the Jai Mahal Palace Hotel.

MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON FEBRUARY 4, 2013
Namaste,

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 Duck Hunters Island 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.

More later,

Tim



TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2013:

Tuesday started with some rain.
First we made a photo stop at Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds).
It was built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh.
It has five stories and is constructed of red and pink sandstone, highlighted with white
quakeee quick lime. The side facing the street outside the palace complex has 953 small windows,
and the breeze (hawa) which circulates through these windows gives the palace its name.
Palace of the Winds in Jaipur, India Palace of the Winds in Jaipur, India

Next we boarded several jeeps and journeyed up to Jaigarh Fort.
You can see the fort lower left. That picture was taken yesterday from the Amber Fort.
The world's largest cannon is housed inside the fort.
The rain pretty much spoiled the visit to the fort.
Jaigarh Fort in Jaipur, India World's largest cannon at the Jaigarh Fort in Jaipur, India Jaigarh Fort in Jaipur, India

After leaving the fort we visited Gaitore, the royal crematorium.
The weather had greatly improved by the time we reach here.
Gaitore is an embodiment of magnificence, belonging to the lives of the royal families.
Not only a splendid life, but the lavishness escorts after death also.
This monument encompasses several regal and very enchanting cenotaphs (chattri).
Gaitore (royal crematorium) in Jaipur, India Gaitore (royal crematorium) in Jaipur, India Gaitore (royal crematorium) in Jaipur, India

Next we journeyed to the City Palace. We entered the palace through a
private entrance and had an exclusive lunch on the veranda of the palace.
Camels in Jaipur, India Private entrance to City Palace in Jaipur, India Private lunch on the Royal Terrace

After lunch we toured the palace.
City Palace, Jaipur, which includes the Chandra Mahal and Mubarak Mahal palaces and other buildings.
It was the seat of the Maharaja of Jaipur, the head of the Kachwaha Rajput clan.
The Chandra Mahal palace now houses a museum but the greatest part of it is still a royal residence.
The palace complex incorporates an impressive and vast array of courtyards,
gardens and buildings. The palace was built between 1729 and 1732.
The City Palace in Jaipur, India The City Palace in Jaipur, India The City Palace in Jaipur, India

After leaving the palace we walked across the street to the Jantar Mantar Observatory.
The Jantar Mantar is a collection of architectural astronomical instruments,
built by Maharaja Jai Singh II at his then new capital of Jaipur between 1727 and 1734.
The Observatory in Jaipur, India The Observatory in Jaipur, India The streets of Jaipur, India
It was back to the hotel for our final night in Jaipur after leaving the palace.

The video below is 48 minutes long of my three days in Jaipur.

MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON FEBRUARY 5, 2013
Namaste,

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.

Until tomorrow,

Tim


Click on the arrow above to continue to my next stop, AGRA, INDIA!

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