Rajasthan 7

Sorry to have been in quiet mode for a couple of days, it’s all been a bit full on here plus I’ve been having problems with pictures……again. 

So, Jaipur. We arrived on Wednesday but laid low at our hotel for the rest of the Day,  so I’ll pick up the story from Thursday. 

Our hotel is conveniently located for seeing much of the city on foot so after a hearty breakfast we set off to explore some of the places we visited in 2015 at our own pace. The road outside the hotel is pretty crazy, very noisy and with an atmosphere of dust and exhaust fumes but it’s only a couple of minutes to Chandapol Gate where we turn onto Chandapol Bazar, one of the main roads through the Pink City. At least along here the pavements on each side are under a collonade so we can walk in the shade past all manner of shops selling sweets,fabrics, string, padlocks, axe heads…..you name it. They’re building a new metro system for Jaipur so there is much seriously big plant and equipment about which is doing nothing to help in terms of either traffic flow or air quality but we did pass a wonderfully fragrant flower market which was nice. 

At the end of Tripolia Bazar we found the entrance (eventually) to Hawa Mahal known worldwide as the Palace of the Winds and perhaps Jaipur’s most recognisable building. Built in 1799 it’s purpose was so that the Maharaja’s wives could see out at what was happening without being seen.

It was very interesting to see behind the facade most of which is only one room deep and where there is some nice coloured glass. 

We even managed to find a decent cup of coffee and “The Facilities” were first class. From there we walked back along Tripolia and under a side arch into the area around the Royal Palace.

First stop was Jantar Manta, the famous astrological observatory dating back to 1728 also famously recognisable with its enormous sundials (still accurate to see couple of seconds) and other structures for locating the heavenly bodies.

By now it was getting very hot so we quickly popped next door to have a look round the City Palace much of which is late 19th century. There’s displays of fabrics and clothes, carpets, an armoury and we walked round the Diwan-i-Am, the magnificent meeting chamber. There’s also a central pavilion, the Diwan-i-Khas that contains two enormous silver jars – said to be the biggest silver objects in the world. These were used by the Maharaja to bring sacred Ganges water with him in 1902 to the coronation of King Edward VII.

There’s also a very nice air conditioned restaurant where we enjoyed beer and lunch before heading back to the Hotel Dera Mandawa. We had walked all day and on the way back the bazars were absolutely packed and we had to push our way through the crowds much of the time. 

Friday was to be a shopping day. We set off on foot again and our first stop was Anokhi; we have Anokhi in Bath but the opportunity to visit their headquarters was too much to miss. They also have a very nice café where I rested while Mrs Sixwheeler got on with the serious business. Not too much from there even though it took the best part of two hours! My turn now to go to lunch and I’d lined up a very good project from the Lonely Planet Guide. OK, it was my fault that we took the wrong turning but eventually on the right track we found the place. Closed. Permanently by the look of things. The next place the LPG offered was not for us I’m afraid, too much raw meat lying around on grubby counters, so we plodded on.

Eventually out of desperation we went into a place. On the plus side it was clean, air conditioned and the food was actually not at all bad. On the other hand when we tried to order we discovered that half the menu wasn’t available because “….chef gone to mosque” and when I tried to pay by card “No cards”; I pointed to the card payment sticker conveniently placed by the door as you come in, “machine broken”, Ho Hum, thank goodness for cash.

Once again a bit of a trudge back to the Hotel but we both felt revived after an afternoon snooze. 

Yesterday, Saturday, was shopping day 2. As before we walked in using the nice shaded colonnades where it was actually very pleasant at that time of day. Our first stop was Rajastahali, a government Emporium promoting regional products; quality and price are controlled and they tell you that they can’t negotiate on price, but the can and will, if discretely. We found much of their offer was a bit old fashioned but came away with a few nice things.

From there we walked along Nehru and Bapu Bazars which are fabulous. Many, many stores offering wonderful looking clothes, fabrics, shoes etc., this was far the best place that we have visited; really vibrant and really Indian 

But we had a goal in mind, lunch, and for this we walked up to Lakshmi Misthan Bhandar or LMB as it’s universally known. This venerable restaurant was built in 1954 and looks as if they’ve kept the original decor. It is a sattvik (pure vegetarian) restaurant and was packed with both visitors and locals. The Lonely Planet Guide is spot on with this place with its “singular decor, attentive waiters and extensive sweet counter” and we enjoyed a jolly good lunch.

After lunch we reluctantly headed back to base along the now packed walkways enjoying all the commerce going on. Lots of shops had women out shopping for saris where the whole gaggle sits on the floor and appears to take every sari off the shelves, unpack them and leave them there. A new way to shop, look out Marks and Spencer.

Back at the hotel we have decided that enough is enough and as we’ve been going for two weeks we’re having a rest day tomorrow. 

5 March 2017

PS

Once again I’ve tried and failed with pictures. Some may be seen on Twitter where my address is @sixwheeler or on Instagram where I’m  Sixwheeler6x2.

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