Filled with anticipation, I arrived in the Pink City of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. In fact, it was my first question to our guide. He laughed and told me of another tourist who planned her whole trip around sighting scenes from the movie. The hotel actually is in a nearby city but the shots of the arches and the pink buildings were shot in Jaipur. The reputation of the Pink City is so important to the local economy, that the government furnishes just the correct color for painting the buildings inside the walls of the old city. To give you an idea how important Jaipur is for travelers to India, Eyewitness Guide India gives no less than fifteen pages to the Pink City and surrounds. There are at least three palaces, many temples and Mosques, endless narrow shopping streets, as well as the monumental arches. I have decided to share The Amber Fort and palace along with Jantar Mantar from my time in this finest example of an Indian planned grid city.
The Amber Fort established in 1592 by Man Singh I is on the site of the ruins of an 11th century fort. The palace buildings added by Jai Singh I are the magnificent centerpiece of the site. Chittorgarh may have the designation as the largest fort, but Amber Fort is the most beautiful. As we approached, we noticed a long line leading to elephant rides to go up the cobblestone walkway into the fort. We decided not to stand in line for several hours but we wanted a ride. The guide suggested an alternative plan of visiting the elephants where they live later in the day and going for a ride there.
The screen picture with pattern design from the palace is to allow the ladies to see through but not be seen from the other side. Muslim architecture is filled with these simple elegant carved screens made of either stone or wood. There is also a hall of tiny ceiling mirrors which is transformed into a starlit sky by the reflection of a single candle. It is different from Versailles’ Hall of Mirrors but equally enchanting. Another room connected to the Audience Hall has vibrant Murano stained glass windows, imported from Venice.
We arrived at the elephants’ barn,where they were being washed and fed after their 5 trips up to the fort. My favorite was the one painted as a tiger, but all had some decoration, gently painted on them each morning. Turns out they are all female because they are calmer. Our ride was down a street instead of up the hill to the fort. The ride was quite bumpy and reminiscent of the bus ride we had been experiencing on the trip. But we can check elephant ride off the bucket list.
Visit Shane’s video site to see David and me on the elephant ride among others from the trip. http://www.youtube.com/user/Shadapaga/videos?flow=grid&view=0
This is indeed India…the India of every child’s dreams….