Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Jaipur by Auto-Rickshaw

We arrived in Jaipur mid-afternoon, and checked into Hotel Madhuban which is where Wendy and I stayed when we were in Jaipur before.  We are in a standard room, not one of the deluxe rooms pictured on the website, but clean and comfortable.

We engaged a tuk-tuk driver for the day yesterday. Our first stop was Iswari Minar Swarga Sal, a tower built to commemorate a victory in the mid1700's.  It's an easy walk up to the top on a ramp rather than stairs and good views from the top.  It was early in the day and there was only one other visitor in the tower.  When we returned to the base, the ticket-taker motioned us to come with him for a good vantage point for a picture.
Goofy tourists!

While Lloyd went off to find a bank and wine shop, I was dropped at Anokhi, one of my favourite Indian stores.  The clothes are well-designed and beautifully finished.  I spent a lovely hour trying on tops, and finally selected one made from organic cotton, indigo dyed, and finished with hand embroidery.  While waiting for Lloyd, I enjoyed a good cup of coffee and chocolate-caramel slice in the cafe before venturing downstairs to CrossWord, a book store that has a vast selection of English books.  I picked out a gorgeous book, The Sari, beautifully illustrated, an anthropological account of what it means to wear a sari.

The driver figured out that I was interested in textiles, particularly block prints, and took us to a business that he favours (he also probably gets a commission in the typical Indian way).  It was a block-printing factory and showroom tucked away in the old city. The owner showed us the block-printing

and screen-printing workshops, as well as the stitching (men on machines and women by hand) areas.  We did buy some fabric which we think we'll use as curtains for the outdoor shower, and I bought a few more tops...  So the task for Wednesday is to ship home a parcel!

Women hand-sewing sequins onto finished garments
Our next stop was the observatory built by Sawai Jai Singh in the 1700s.  He designed and had built huge instruments out of marble and stone for measuring local time and to study the movement of constellations and stars.
We stood and watched the shadow move along the curve--the time is accurate to 2 seconds.  The tower is 27 metres high.
Our final excursion for the day was to climb up to Nahargarh Fort above Jaipur.
At the beginning of the path.  I'm wearing a kurta that I bought at the block-printing factory.
The view over the city was spectacular but unfortunately we could also see how polluted the area is.

In one of the palace apartments

After exploring the palace in the fort, we went to the cafe and enjoyed a beer and tea while watching the sun go down.

Back down to the city, at the bottom of the path, we noticed a couple men carving blocks for printing.

Now for some random street scenes from the auto-rickshaw:

Two young men moving rebar and lengths of metal bars on a bicycle cart.
Lots of camels in the street too...

Jaipur is noisy, gritty, and lively.  

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