We slept well in Agra and woke early for the drive to Jaipur to complete our Golden Triangle tour. We soon stopped on at another service station for breakfast. Before we got to Jaipur we stopped at a palace/tomb called Fatehpur Sikri. We were met by a teenage boy who was to be our guide. He said we could walk to the palace but suggested we pay a small fee for the bus, as it was blisteringly hot. We alighted with a bus load of Asians. We were led into the courtyard of the palace with a manicured lawn before entering the main square and removing our shoes. We were then shown the entrance to an implausibly long, secret tunnel and into the main temple we were encouraged to buy cloth and food as offerings for the poor. We just bought some ribbons though. There was a great view over the countryside from one of the gates!
Back at the car we continued on the road towards Jaipur and it wasn’t long before we stopped to pick up our guide, Krishna, upon entering the city. He explained that Prince Albert had remarked that all the buildings were pink, so since then strict laws are in place to keep them that way. First stop was Jantar Mantar, the Rajastani prince’s astrological park. Inside were dozens of sun dials and other means of measuring the times and planets. We also got our first glimpse of the famous Palace of the Winds (Hawa Mahal). Once we had finished admiring the celestial instruments we exited the park. Krishna then took us to a small temple, which was lavishly carved. Just next to it was an artificial lake with the Lake Palace (Jal Mahal) built in the middle, that gave the impression of a floating palace.
We then were taken on a short drive out-of-town to the Amber Fort and the older Palace next door. We stopped on the way to get a picture and MK Choudry chatted to a local man so he could pose in his hat and with his pipe. Next, we drove up to the entrance of the newer palace, turning down the opportunity to take an elephant ride as we would be doing that in Chiang Mai. Krishna explained the history of the place and showed us the garden in the lake, the courtyards and carved splender of the pillars and screens. We too some pictures of
the procession of elephants weaving their way up to the courtyard carrying the tourist on platforms on their backs. Krishna then showed us the bed chambers of the King’s eight wives and the secret passages he had built so that he could visit each one without the others knowing.
Next we were taken to a place they called the ‘elephant garage’ as they kept elephants there. Mark and I got to meet a mahout and watch him scale the elephant up its trunk by pulling on its ears! We posed for some pictures with the jumbos and it was nice to see their beautifully painted trunks. However, they had their ankles shackled to the ground to control them. The space the elephants have to stay when they are not working is very small, as small a parking space. I felt sorry for them.
We then got dropped off at our hotel for the night. I remember commenting that it looked nice and modern from the outside, but inside we saw cockroaches coming out from behind the light switch in the bathroom! I then saw another on the pillow as I lay in bed. That was too much and Mark went and complained to the front desk. They showed him four other rooms on various floors in the hotel but each one had at least one roach in it! The whole hotel must have been infested. Mark told the manager we wanted to change hotel, I spoke to him too, as you can imagine it was hard work to be refunded but we managed to get it in the end. Mark went to the modern place across the road called the Peppermint hotel, and checked us in. The room was clean and modern, a million times better, much nicer than we needed actually.
Next morning we explained the situation to MK Choudry who was very understanding and helped us get a refund from the hotel, which paid the majority of the Peppermint bill, so we were happy. We were then driven to a place for breakfast before the car took us to our lunch stop on the way back to Delhi. We asked to be dropped off by the cheap market near Connaught Place before getting a tuk-tuk back to the hotel. What a trip!