OK, I own up. I shouldn’t have said over last night’s lovely dinner in Jaipur ” It looks as though we’re going to get through this holiday without being ill”
En route to Agra and the Taj Mahal, via an amazing fort built in a few years ( in the 17th century ) and abandoned in only a few more, Louise started to feel unwell, followed by me. The visit to the Taj was abandoned, and after a difficult journey to the hotel, they organised a doctor. Lou’s not good at all, but is now sleeping, whilst I’m not too bad. We’re medicated up, and we’ve organised to stay here another night and have one night less in Delhi. This must be the most expensive private hospital room in the world!! We hope to be feeling better in the morning and then we can decide what to do next. I can’t believe that we could come all the way to India and not see the Taj Mahal!
This looks to be an amazing hotel, if we can get to leave our room. Tomorrow is another day.
It’s now tomorrow and we look to be improving. There’s not too much point in having a room with a view of the Taj Mahal only 600 metres away, if it’s so foggy that you can’t see it! Hope to be out and about this afternoon, but much depends on Louise.
We had the luxury of a lie-in this morning not getting up until 8am! Doug’s frequent comment is that he is getting up earlier on holiday than he would at home. His 2 new gilets arrived at about 9h15 & proved to be a perfect fit & just what he wanted.
We set of with Pochi & Vikram again, this time to visit the Amber Fort a few kms just outside the town. Again it was an amazing edifice & hard to imagine that it was so old. It is a Unesco site & well worth the status.
Again Pochi was full of info & we had great tour around. Two things have struck me: how civilised society was in the 16th century & I now understand more why Muslim women keep themselves covered , sometimes to extremes. Don’t ask me to agree with the custom but it is ingrained in the culture from centuries past. The Hindu part of India (the majority) will tell you that the Muslim influence has been enormous, & this is reflected in architecture, dress & customs. One part of the fort was decorated with glass & was really beautiful & the rest wasn’t too bad either.
I am going to post some photos of hotel, starting with the entrance to our room & then the hotel in general & afterwards I will post some photos of the fort.
We have massages booked for this afternoon, ironic really ‘cos the sun has come out & we have enjoyed lunch in the courtyard without several layers of wool or cashmere.
We arrived in Jaipur yesterday afternoon—-what a hectic melange of people, cars, motorised tuk-tuks, pedal rickshaws, cows,horses & camels. How our driver negotiated all of this without coming to grief I will never know. We came through the busy bazaar area & once again turned into a haven of peace & quiet. The hotel that we have chosen is a Haveli, which means Heritage property & it was, in a former life, the residence of the Prime Minister of Rajasthan. Our main problem was how much colder it is & we welcomed an electric radiator in our room. The room is big & roomy & we both said that if it had been hot weather how much we would have appreciated the marble floors & ceiling fans. As it was we both donned sweaters , scarves, socks & shoes! In fact Doug bought a lovely pashmina to give him even more warmth. We had a late lunch & generally settled in—catching up on laundry & emails etc. I have to say that the hotel reminds us both of the hotel featured in the film ‘The best Marigold Hotel’ it just has an air about it & you can easily visualise the scene. It seems that the sequel is in fact being filmed here in Jaipur & that all the stars–Judi Dench, Maggie Smith & Bill Nighy are in town.
They offered us dinner in the courtyard but we refused & waited for a table to become available inside. There are quite a few French tourists here & we do wonder how they cope with the food here. We both slept really well & were up bright & early for breakfast before meeting our guide. Our guide is an Indian gentleman called Pochi who belongs to an Indian military family. He was educated by the Christian Brothers & said that discipline was a strong feature of his education. I quote ‘if you were naughty it was either a rap on the knuckles or a bendy-over’! Read into that what you will!
Pochi took us to the Royal Palace & The Palace of the Winds. The Royal Palace is sumptuous & in very good order. The current Maharajah lives there with his mother & his Grandmother. The last Maharajah died 2 yrs ago & the current incumbent is his grandson & is still undergoing his education. The parts of the Palace that are open to the public are beautiful & our guide was very knowledgable about the whole history. There are quite a few photos of Lord & Lady Mountbatten being here just after Indian independence.
We also visited the Observatory which has to be seen to be believed. One of the Maharajahs was an academic & had various instruments/structures installed in the 18th century that were cutting edge astronomy/ mathematics/astrology of the time & still are today. Here there is the world’s biggest sundial which is accurate to 2 seconds.
After that we went to the Palace of the Winds which is almost a facade. It is in fact a building that was erected to allow the women of the time to be able to observe the parades & processions going on in the street without themselves being seen. Pochi took us to the local bazaar, where for the first time we were hustled to buy things. Everything was available to buy —from shoes to cooking utensils.
We ended up at a cooperative run by the Government where local artisans can demonstrate how they make their goods & can sell them on at a fair price—of course everything is negotiable. We saw how they do block printing on fabric & then moved on to how carpets are manufactured. We picked up a local guide here & he was delighted to learn that we spoke French. He reckoned that his French was better than his English, so we were happy to oblige. We saw how carpets are made & then he went in for the hard sell. I have to admit that they were beautiful & the quality was superb. It was a very tempting prospect— a hand woven wool carpet 2mx3m for £1500 delivered to your door, & that was just the starting price! Doug was mightily tempted but I don’t know where we could have put one. Reluctantly we moved on into the textile area & I did manage to see some nice pashminas but Doug did succumb to 2 gilets which the tailor is going to run up for him & deliver to the hotel tonight. They will be made to measure & customised to his requirements. The price was definitely negotiable—-something that Doug hates doing but that I quite enjoy. I did knock him down a fair bit but who is to know whether we have been had or not. If they come up with the goods that they have promised then I think that everyone will be happy all round.
After that it was back to the hotel for a relaxing afternoon & catching up with mails, blogs etc.