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24-31 March 2013 – Incredible India!

9 April, 2013 2 comments

It was a brief visit for us but we saw, did, visited, travelled, tasted, heard, smelt so much that it felt like we were on the road again… It felt good. Sometimes, I had to pinch myself and think hard about our life in London with a flat, a job and all that comes with it to make sure we actually came back.
It felt good to go back to a place we knew and loved.

In short Kwasi and i got on a plane at Heathrow on a snowy Sunday morning and changed for another one in Munich. We were flying Lufthansa and actually really enjoyed it. It is one of those airlines that lets you start your movie as soon as you seat down and until you reach your gate on arrival. They have weird food but you get to have a whole bottle of beer if you ask for beer instead of a small glass of horrible coke.

When we arrived in Delhi, it was 7:40 and it took forever to get our bags and some cash. When wegot out of the terminal we saw a small guy holding a sign with my name. We smiled just looking at the blue sky.
We followed our driver to the parking and on our way to the car he was so distracted that he almost got run over by another car. Then we finally found the car he realised that he lost the ticket so he had to pay a fine to be able to leave the airport parking.
So two hours after landing, we were finally on our way to Jaipur.
It is only 266km far away but the roads are so bad that it took us 5 hours to reach Sunder Palace in Jaipur.

Sunder Palace was the place we stayed at during our first visit in 2011 and we decided to come back just for one thing – their tomato curry!
Their food served on the rooftop restaurant is delicious and so cheap that it is worth staying there just for that. And the rooms are cheap too (about £16 for a night) and clean with TV and air conditioning.

So as soon as we arrived we went for lunch on the terrace and got ready to explore the pink city. We decided to go to the bazaars by rickshaw to get some cheap clothes that we could wear for Holi, the Festival of Colours.

In an auto rickshaw

After a couple of hours of shopping and wandering the streets of Jaipur we got back to the hotel and went to eat another tomato curry!

Pink pots in the Pink City Door

There we met Jenn, a American teacher teaching English in Saudi Arabia and on holiday in Jaipur. Kwasi was keen to get people to hang out with for Holi just to make sure we could be a big group. She was a bit weird but still accepted to play Holi with her.

Jasmine garlands Jawal Mahal

The next day is the Elephant Festival held in Jaipur for many years on the day before Holi. Unfortunately, when we were having breakfast we read the papers and we learnt that animal activists had managed to cancel the event because it was bad for the elephants. Great! We actually came all the way to Jaipur because of the festival….

In the morning we tried to find places where we could see the elephants being prepared but the only way to see it was at Amber Fort, just outside the city where they take fat American tourists up to the fort. Maybe the animal activists should worry about that rather than have them play polo once a year!
So we stayed there for a while looking at the brightly decorated elephants coming up and down the fort.

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After that we went back into town to visit the City Palace.

Water palace Turban

We came to the hotel for lunch and a third tomato curry. For the afternoon we decided to still go to the polo ground to see what the Rajasthan Tourist Office prepared for us. Well, they were contingents of folkloric groups dancing and playing instruments. The fun thing was that our rickshaw driver started to play Holi on the way and we got really excited.

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After a very long time, we decided to head into the Pink City again to buy our coloured powders to play Holi tomorrow. At a stall, a kid came to me, said ‘Happy Holi’ and splashed bright pink and purple on my face!

Pink City Holi powders Holi powders

Holi powders Bike and Holi

Back at the hotel, Kwasi booked car to Pushkar for the next day. The reason being that he talked to a lady who said that alcohol was banned there so the celebrations will be quieter and more “civilised”.

After a good meal, a good night sleep and a big breakfast we got ready for our trip to Pushkar. We met two Australian girls who decided to come with us to play Holi in Pushkar. So Renee, Rebecca, Kwasi and me waited outside the hotel for the car. There the hotel staff and us started to play Holi by chucking powders onto our faces and eating Indian sweets.
We got in the car and after about 20 minutes the driver realised that he got the wrong clients and we had to go back all the way to the hotel to find out that they actually didn’t order a car for us so we waited a good hour before we could leave Jaipur.

Our driver Zaheer Ali was so funny but so fast too. We screamed may times during the journey. It is a good thing he kept telling us that he is a complete race who has a complete driving licence and complete control of the car. This is why we actually ran out of petrol just 5 km outside of Pushkar! By that point, we were so late that we were not amused at all so we left him to deal with the car, found a hotel, ordered a taxi and finally arrived in Pushkar.

The place was crazy! In a square, there were thousands of purple people dancing to trance music blurting out at 2.00pm.

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When we arrived, we got ‘holi’ed a lot by Indians people, pinched here and there and hugged a lot.It was actually not the best feeling in the world. Luckily, an older Indian man told us to go further. At first we were very reluctant but he insisted and he was right. Further down was the place where all the tourists played Holi, it was a lot better and then we started to have some real fun playing Holi with complete strangers. It was the best time we’ve had in a while. Can you believe that you can actually get dirty for fun and not worry about washing afterwards. I have dreamt about this almost all my life. After dancing, playing, eating and sniffing colours, the music stopped and everybody went back to what they were doing.

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We decided to have a look at the sacred lake of Pushkar and it was great. We spent about half on hour on the ghats looking at the locals trying to wash the purple dye away.

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When we were leaving, Ali found us and apologised about the petrol. We actually had to apologise for the state we were in…

The next day was a lot quieter, we got a car to take us to Shekhawati, a place in the desert of Rajasthan were rich merchants built impressive havelis (huge houses). This time our driver was so slow and careful that it took forever to get there.

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We drove first to Nawalgarh were we visited two havelis: Podar Haveli and Baghton Ki Choti Haveli.
One turned into a museum and completely renovated and the other one on the brink of collapse.

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We also had lunch in Nawalgarh where we stopped at the Shekhawati Guest House, which our driver didn’t like at all – he insisted that we ate on the side of the highway… We were the only guests in this airy bungalow in a leafy garden and the lady cooked us the freshest dahl with chapatis and rice. Sorry Mr Jefferson but we don’t regret it, it was delicious!

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Our second and last stop (our driver was so slow that’s all we could see) was Mandawa, a great little town with fabulous havelis. There we visited several: the Naveti Haveli turned into a bank, the Nand Lal Murmuria and the Goenka double Haveli. The nice thing when you visit them is that they have a chowdikar (caretaker-cum-guard) will show you around and give you explanations (for a small fee obviously)

We got back to Jaipur late a night and had our last tomato curry as we were leaving for Delhi the next day.

We got tickets for the 6:00 train and had to take a rickshaw at 5.30 to get there on time. It was so weird to be back in Indian railway stations with our bags so early in the morning.
We were luck enough to have tickets for a nice train with A/C. Renee and Rebecca were on the same train so we decided to share a taxi to New Delhi once we got there.
All four of us went to the Tourist Office at New Delhi station to get tickets to Agra for the Sunday. We couldn’t resist, the Taj Mahal was so close, we had to see it again.

After we got our tickets, we went separate ways them to their hotel in Paharganj and us to our hotel in Connaught Place. We splurged and got a room at the Radisson (really cheap here). After settling in, showering and changing to clean clothes, we waited for the rain to go away to start exploring.
Our first stop was Old Delhi and the Jama Masjid. We arrived too late during our first visit and never got to actually visit it. This time, we saw it and went into it. I had to wear something on top of my clothes – not sure why I was wearing trousers and a long sleeve top…

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After this, we went straight to a local favourite: Karim. It is a great mughal restaurant hidden in a passage down a side street. There are four dining rooms all scattered around the open air kitchen. we got butter chicken, mutton stew and the best naans we’ve ever had. It was delicious food. We really recommend to anyone visiting Old Delhi.

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After lunch, we got a cycle rickshaw to take us to the spice market through the tiniest streets. It was a great experience if comfortable! The spice market was incredible, packed with vehicles, animals, humans, smelly bags of spices, dried fruits and tea.

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We went back to Paharganj after that for some shopping and mehndi – henna on my hands.

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After that experience, we got back to the hotel to relax a bit and ordered room service just to enjoy not going out. Well, very bad idea – this is the only food that got me a Delhi belly!

The next day was very busy – we visited all the sites we didn’t do on our first visit: Qtub Minar and the complex, Safdarjang Tomb, Humayun’s Tomb and finally the Lotus temple. We had lunch at the Dilli Haat, a tourist market with food stalls. We actually ordered Nepalese food: some momos and fried rice.

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For dinner, we went to Kake Da Hotel in Connaught Place and it was the same cuisine as Karim. The place is really horrible, service really poor, tables and cutler sticky but once again the food was amazing. Another recommendation guys.

On our last day, we got a rickshaw to take us to Nizamuddin station where we met Renee and Rebecca for our trip to Agra. After ” hours, we got there and got a car for the day to take us around Agra and its monuments. We were luck to order one without A/C so we had one of these old Padminis.
Our first was the Taj.

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We got to the Western gate and had no aueue at the ticket office or at the entrance, amazing. It was a different story inside, there must have been millions walking down the fountains and around the mausoleum. This doesn’t affect the sight though. It is still one of the best things I have seen in my life – way better that Cristo Redentor in Rio!

After two hours, we went for lunch in Taj Ganj before getting the car to take on the other side of the Yamuna river to take unobstructed photos of the Taj Mahal. You can go to a garden and pay or you can walk to the river which is what we did. If you can’t afford the 750 rupees to visit the Taj Mahal, we recommend this option.

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From there our driver took us to the Baby Taj, or Itimad-ud-Daulah. Much smaller and less famous, it is called the baby Taj, because it is also made of Marble. The better thing here though is that the decorations and inlay work is amazing.

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After that it was time to take the girls back to the station for their train. As for Kwasi and me we went to see the sunset on the Taj Mahal on a rooftop on Taj Ganj. It was beautiful and sad because it was our last night in this amazing place.

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We left our hotel the next morning at 5.00, got the cheap and efficient Airport Express and took off two hours later…

3rd December – On the train to Jodhpur

4 December, 2011 Leave a comment

We leave Jaipur for Jodhpur today. 11:30am train to catch and hopefully arrive at 5:30pm.

Had a bit of a lay in and breakfast was had,we checked out at 9:40 and headed to the station.

At the station we managed to change one of the tickets we had booked a couple of days ago which means we spend more time in Jaisalmer and less time in Udaipur.

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The 11:30am train from platform 3 was delayed by 15 mins and when it arrived, there was a bit of confusion as to which compartmenet we were supposed to be sat in. We had booked for AC2, which meant, less beds and less people in your berth.

Once the train got away, the train took us past dry landscapes. Land doesn’t look fertile and looks like a harsh place to live.

Jodhpur also known as the blue city is on the eastern fringe of the Thar Desert. Its called the blue city because of the colour-wash of it’s old town houses that sits below the Mehrangarh Fort.

The city also gives it’s name to a type of trousers, baggy around the thigh but narrow down the calf, designed for horseback riding. I’m hoping to buy some whilst here.

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We arrived at the station where amwe had touts asking us to gobover the bridge for the exit, we ignored them, and found the exit and got an auto-rickshaw for 50 INR to Ganpati Guesthouse.

Guesthouse is nice, from our window we can see the fort in the distance. Had dinner on the roof restaurant, food wasn’t great but view was excellent.

Retired back into room and slept.

Tomorrow is Julie’s birthday,she will be 28yrs old.

En français:

On se réveille assez tôt pour profiter de l’Internet avant la coupure d’electricite quotidienne (9h-11h). On prend le p’ti dej et on fait les sacs. Avant 10 heures, on est dans un auto qui nous dépose a la gare.
On passe par le bureau des réservations pour changer un de nos billets. On reste plus longtemps a Jaisalmer maintenant.

On patiente dans le bureau d’information pour touristes et peu avant l’arrivée du train on va sur le quai 3. Notre train arrive avec 30 minutes de retard mais comme il vient de Varanasi ce n’est pas tant que ça! On s’installe en seconde classe. On a deux couchettes pour les 5h30 de trajet. On transforme celle du bas en deux fauteuils se faisant face près de la fenêtre.

Pendant le trajet, on traverse des paysages vrillent désertiques. On voit des dames en safaris gardant des chameaux ou bien des chèvres. On s’arrête plusieurs fois dans des coins vraiment paumes.

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On arrive a la gare de Jodhpur avec 30 minutes de retard. On trouve un auto-rickshaw et on arrive a notre guesthouse, Ganpati a 18h.
On s’installe dans la chambre et on admire la vue depuis notre grande fenêtre: on est au premières loges pour voir le fort de Mehrangarh, impressionant.

Un peu plu stars, on se rend sur le toit de notre guesthouse, on a la même vue que dans la chambre. On se pose et on commande a diner. Vers 20h, le fort s’illuminer c’est grandiose.
Le diner n’est pas terrible, nous ne recommandons pas le restaurant de Ganpati. On trouvera mieux demain.

C’est la saison des mariages en ce moment et on entend plusieurs fêtes dans les alentours. On voit les feux d’artifice, on entend les orchestres et on voit passer les défilés. La musique bat son plein jusque tard dans la nuit mais ça ne m’empêche pas de m’endormir.

2nd December – The forts around Jaipur

3 December, 2011 Leave a comment

After a good night sleep, we hired an auto-rickshaw to visit the city of Jaipur.

Transport for the day was 550 INRs (£6.84),from 10am till 7pm which includes taking us to the 5 sites (not including entrances)we wanted to visit and also the driver waiting.

Rafiq our driver which was arragned by our hotel picked us up and then took us to our first stop which he called the Eiffel tower of Jaipur. It’s a big column in the old city, resembling one of the towers of the Taj Mahal. On our way to the tower Rafiq mentioned if a police man stops him and asks us how much we are paying, we always say, we are going by the meter and not paying him for a whole day.

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This tower has not been mentioned in any books or guides that we have read. It cost us 10 INRs to enter but you should really pay 5 Rupees to enter as stated on the ticket. At the top you get a 360 degrees view if Jaipur, spotting the City Palace, Wind Palace and Tiger Palace. It was a little bit hazy but still good to see. Only spent 5mins there.

From the Eiffel tower we went to Royal Gaitor which lies in the northern side of the city centre. In most guides it states it’s free to enter but it’s not, it costs us 60 INR each to get in. They may charge you another 20 INR for your camera or video. We didn’t pay.

The Royal Gaitor, contains marble mausoleums of Jaipurs ruling family. The founder of Jaipur (Jai Singh II) is buried there. One of the most impressive stories of one of the rulers who is also buried here is, he had four wives, fifty or so concubines which bore him 125 children, Yes ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY FIVE CHILDREN. Where does he get his energy from and does he actually get anytime to rule? Was it women he was ruling or the city? Incredible feat anyway.

From here we set our sights on visiting the main attraction in Jaipur, AMBER FORT.

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Amber Fort is 11km north of Jaipur. This was the capital for a leading clan from 1037 until 1727.

The settings is beautiful. The fort is perched on a rocky hill and next to is Jaigarh fort. This place is very dramatic and one can imagine how this was used back in the days. Entrance is 150 INRs.

There are all kinds of touts and sellers trying to make some money. At one point I touched my head as I thought a pigeon had shit on my head, all of a sudden someone produced a hat for me, I declined his advances ambit he still pushes to sell me a hat.

You can also find guides within the premises and they are going at good rate 200 – 250 INRs. For those who are not big fans of snakes must be aware as there are a few snake charmers outside the fort and also inside.

We spent about a couple of hours in here, saw houses and private chambers belonging to former rulers.

There used to be a tunnel that leads to Jaigarh fort but its been closed as a tourist got lost oneday, not sure if he/she was ever found.

The walk to Jaigarh fort took about 30 mins as it lies behind Amber Palace, climbing gradual and steep steps. As our guide in Nepal will call it “Nepali Flat”. This fort was built in 1600. If you have a ticket for the City Palace in Jaipur then you are exempt from paying here. You will be charged 50 INRs for your camera or video recorder.

Within this fort is the biggest canon ever made in Asia. It was fired once. It was carried up to the frost by 25 oxen. As the rooms within this fort is a bit tricky, we found ourselves being chaperoned by a uniformed guard who will give us a tour. In the end we gave him 20 INRs for his troubles.

We descended and headed for the last place before lunch. When we reached the auto-rickshaw it wasn’t Rafiq waiting for us, it was another guy. He explained Rafiqs uncle had passed away so he has gone home and this guy will be our guide.

He took us to the water palace. At the water palace there isn’t much to see. You stand byte street side and see this palaeontology submerged in water.

Spent 10 mins the most there and had lunch at 3pm at LMB in the old city.We then met up with our new driver and asked him to take us to GALTA also known as the MONKEY PALACE.

Galta lies 3pm east of Jaipur. When we arrived at it’s gates, we bought some ground nuts for the monkeys as we were told by locals it’s good karma to feed the monkeys.

Entry is free but you will be charged for camera which is 50 INRs and video 150 INRs. We arrived at sunset and walked past all these red butts monkeys. There were tens of them when walking up and the temple was situated between these rocks, it reminded me of Indiana Jones. It was picturesque and also hundereds of monkeys. Apparently thereare 500 of them and they are just perched there buy eating, picking lice from eachother, looking at you or some engaging in some Kamasutra.

Spent about half an hour there and then walked up to wath the sunset over Jaipur from Surya Mandir temple, which is perched on the top of the hill.

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Our driver was waiting or us and we asked him to take us to a bazaar as Jukie want to buy some table cloths. The guys wasn’t listening and triedto takebus to his shop, the atmosphere changed a bit as he was being vey pushy. He most probably gets commission for bringing tourists.

He eventually took us to where Julie wanted to go, Julie went into a few shops to enquire about prices but she didn’t buy anything. Got back Ito rickshaw and we gave in and agreed to be taken to the wholesalers where the driver thinks we would be able to get table cloths for heap and good quality.

Te place was dingy and the owner or manager demonstrated how the prints were done, an tried to offer us tea, coffee, water, champagne and we were not interested. It’s been a long day and we didn’t want to be there. The owner boasted he supplied materials to Liberty, m&s and other chains and we knew he was bullshitting us.

After showing us a cloth, Julie told him she wasn’t interested. The quality wasn’t good and the price was more expensive than the retail prices. We thanked him and driver drove us back to hotel.

On the way to hotel, drier was stopped by the police and fined 100 INRs for not having a licence. We were asked by the police how much we were paying which we said, we are paying according to the meter, saved his arse.

Julie and I thought that was his karma. If he had taken us back to hotel earlier as mentioned maybe he would have avoided a fine but wanted to make some more money. His pushiness left a bad taste in our mouths as we had enjoyed our day until the end.

Arrived in hotel, had dinner and then slept.

En français:

Grasse matinée aujourd’hui, je me réveille a 8h. Petit déjeuner sur le toit avec crêpe au Nutella. C’est délicieux jusqu’à ce que j’arrive a l’endroit ou ils ont mis du miel dans la crêpe au Nutella… Tant mieux pour Kwasi, tant pis pour moi.

A 10h, quand on est fin prêts, on organise un auto-rickshaw pour la journée. Notre chauffeur s’appelle Rafiq et son auto ‘limousine’. On avait déjà eu droit a hélicoptère mais limousine c’estla première fois.

Pendant qu’il roule, il nous indique les endroits incontournables de Jaipur, Lassiwalla, THE endroit pour les lassis, Niros, un très ancien restaurant etc…
Il nous montre aussi ce qu’il appelle la tour Eiffel de Jaipur, un minaret en plein milieu de la cité rose. Pour 10 roupies chacun, on monte tout en haut pour avoir le meilleur panorama de la ville. Enfin, avec la pollution et la poussière on a du mal a voir loin.

On commence ensuite notre vrai tour par, ‘Royal Gaitor’. C’est l’endroit ou tous les maharajas de Jaipur sont enterres. Il y a deux grandes cours avec au milieu de chaque. Cour, le cénotaphe d’un très grand maharaja. Le premier est celui qui a eu 125 enfants avec toutes ses femmes et ses concubines!

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Ensuite, on se dirige plus loin vers la ville d’Amber pour visiter le fort d’Amber. Le rickshaw nous dépose aux pieds de la colline et après il faut monter le reste. Vous avez le choix avec éléphant pour 900 roupies ou utiliser vos jambes. Nous on a choisi d’y aller a pieds. Bon, on a croise des charmeurs de serpent sur la route mais c’est pas grave. Après 15 minutes, on arrive dans la cour principale. On acheté nos billets (200 roupies chacun) et on part visiter. C’est vraiment très grand avec des dizaines et des dizaines cours intérieurs, de salles etc… Le fort était très important avec que Jaipur ne soit crééeetc’est la ou vivait le maharaja. Ils avaient même des salles avec la clim de leur époque: des tuyaux avec e l’eau fraiche caches dans les murs!

Après le fort d’Amber, on grime pendant 20 minutes en plein cagnard pour aller voir le fort de Jaigarh. Il est encore plus vieux et a la particularité d’accueillir le plus grand canon du monde. Pas très impressionnant si vous voulez mon avis mais si le Guiness le dit.

On redescend tout en bas pour être accueillis par un nouveau chauffeur, mr Khan qui nous dit que l’oncle de Rafiq est mort donc il estparti rejoindre sa famille. Comme on a déjà tout entendu on lui pose des questions pour savoir si c’est bien vrai et oui, il sera notre chauffeur pour le reste de la journée. Il nous dit qu’il a commence ce métier il y a un mois et qu’avant il travaillait dans une fabrique de pierres précieuses.

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Il commence par nous déposer au Jahal Mahal, le palais dans l’eau. Rien de spécial car on ne peut pas le visiter, juste prendre des photos. Après 5 minutes, on lui dit qu’on voudrait déjeuner et il nous dépose devant un restaurant qui n’était pas prévu au programme et on lui dit ou on voudrait aller a la place.

Il nous dépose quelques minutes après au LMB, réputé pour ses confiseries. C’est très cher et pas génial. Comme il est tard on n’a pris que des naans et un byriani a partager en se disant que ce sera bientôt l’heure du diner.

La dernière étape de notre tour est le temple de Galta. Il accueille des milliers de singes et franchement on n’était pas très rassurés quand on commmence a grimper la colline, il y en partout et en plus certains se chamaillent! Mr Khan nous dit qu’il faut acheter des cacahuètes pour le singes pour le bon kharma. On le fait mais quand on réalise le nombre de singes on se dit qu’ils vont tous nous sauter dessus. Au sommet de la colline, il y a un premier temple, mais le clou du spectacle est en bas de l’autre cote: plusieurs temples avec des bassins et…. des singes!

Quand on repart Mr Khan nous demande pour la énième fois si on veut aller a Mughal Town, la ou il y a les fabriques artisanales. On lui dit non mais qu’on voudrait aller dans les bazars. Il nous dit d’aller voir mais que lui il aura des meilleurs prix. O va voir et on demande les prix puis juste histoire de savoir on le suit dans ces fameux ateliers. Et bien, comme on le pensait c’est plus cher! Donc on n’achète rien et on lui dit qu’on veut rentre a l’hôtel.

Sur le chemin du retour, il se fait arrêter et doit payer une amende, ça lui apprendra a vouloir nous emmener la ou on voulait pas. On rentre a l’hotel après 19h. On fait une petite pause et plus tard, on dine encore sur le toit et je reprends mon curry de tomate!

Apres le diner, retour dans la chambre et je m’endors devant ‘Destination Finale 3’.

1st December – Beautiful Jaipur, The pink city and finding the cover of photo of Rough Guides

2 December, 2011 2 comments

Thank You Emmanuelle and Maxime for the 2010 Christmas present – a hotel in Jaipur.

Today: We find out if we have a ticket to enable us to travel to Jaipur which is to the west of Delhi, in Rajastan region.

At 4:30 the alarm went off and checked out. Luckily our hotel called the train reservation line to enquire about our ticket and we had one. We were 39 and 40 in the waiting list and we were told we had a good chance, reason why we bought ticket. Even people who were 68 on the waiting list positions got a seat.

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Walked to the station and jumped on the train. The coach we were allocated looked great, air-conditioned and leather seats. Julie and I were estatic at this point as we thought being on the waiting list, we would be sat with the cattle.

The train departed the station and we were given free newspapers to read, I took The Delhi Times and Mail today. We were then brought tea and biscuits. At this moment in time Julie is on cloud nine, anyone who knows Julie, knows she loves her breakfast. Her smile was as wide as the Seine or Mekong River and eyes glowing like cat eyes.

About 10 mins later we were brought a proper breakfast with fork and knife. Not plastic ones that you get on planes, metal ones. Ohhhhh Yeah. The food was delicious and were very grateful. We watched Eat, Pray, Love until we got to Jaipur.

Got to the Jaipur station at around 11am, we went to the tourist information office to call our hotel to come pick us up and they did so within 10mins.

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Jaipur is also known as the Pink City and has the most atmospheric and enchanting bazaars in the whole of Asia.

Got to Sunder Hotel at 10:45 and it’s a very chic hotel, lots of murials on the wall and looks like it’s worth the money we paid for.

After sorting ourselves out and enjoying our room and sleeping on clean sheets, we started our sight seeing in Jaipur with the City Palace.

City Palace lies in the heart of the Pink City, it cost us 300 INRs to get in and with this ticket you can also enter another monument Jaigar Fort for free. The palace was built in the 1720s by a guy called Jai Singh and it is still occupied by the royal family.

Within this palace we saw the door that is pictured on the front of the Rough Guides, it was an exciting moment. After spending an hour there we went to Jantar Mantar which is just 2 min walk outside the main gate of the City Palace.

Jantar Mantar is an astronomical site which was constructed between 1728 awns 1734. It’s huge and impressive. Cannot believe they constructed a 27metre long sundial, the Samarat Yantra which can calculate the time to within two seconds.

Visited the Wind Palace (Hawa Mahal) after seeing the Samarat Yantra. Hawa Mahal is Jaipurs most recognisable landmark. It stands to the east of the City Palace and was built in 1799, it’s best to see it in the morning but we saw it in the evening when the the lights are switched on.

It was built fir women of the court to watch street processions whilst remaining out of view. It was nice to see but we didn’t go in.

It had been a long day so we went back for dinner at our hotel and then slept.

Tomorrow we see the forts and temples Jaipur has to offer.

En français:

Réveil encore une fois bien matinal: 4h30!
Nous sommes sur liste d’attente donc quand on quitte l’hôtel on leur dit qu’on va surement revenir car on n’est pas surs d’avoir une confirmation.
Le réceptionniste appelle le 139 et donne notre numéro de billet et hourah! Nous avons deux sièges confirmes. On était 39eme et 40eme sur la liste d’attente donc on avait peu d’espoir!

On part tout content avec nos sacs jusqu’à la gare mais quand on arrive on ne trouve pas notre train sur le panneau d’affichage donc on ne sait pas ou aller. On marche un peu pour essayer de trouver un contrôleur. Après 5 minutes, on trouve un bureau et on demande sur quel quai notre train doit arriver. Ils nous disent le quai 2.

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On y va et le train arrive a ce moment, on trouve notre voiture et nos deux sièges. On est dans la classe ‘Chair Car’, ce sont deux rangées de sièges confortables qui peuvent se baisser. Le train part a l’heure. 10 minutes après le départ, alors qu’on vient de manger du pain avec du Nutella, on nous sert un plateau avec thé, biscuits et bonbons. Quand on termine ce plateau, on en reçoit un autre 30 minutes après avec deux tranches de pain de mie, du beurre, de la confiture, encore du thé, une briquette de jus de mangue. C’est le meilleur trajet en train qu’on ait eu en Inde, incroyable!

Le train arrive a l’heure, ça aussi c’est incroyable. Quand on arrive, il y a une armée de conducteurs d’autos qui nous foncent dessus donc on décide d’aller au bureau d’information pour touriste et on téléphone a notre hôtel pour qu’ils viennent nous chercher. Dix minutes plus tard, on est dans un ‘auto’ et en route pour le Sunder Palace.

On arrive, on dépose nos sacs dans le dépôt car notre chambre n’est pas prête et on va sur le toit pour déjeuner. Je commande un curry de tomate, un jeera rice et un naan. C’est délicieux!

Après le déjeuner, on s’installe dans notre chambre, un vrai palace. On a un lit double, un canapé, un mini salon et une mini salle a manger avec une salle de bain impeccable! On a la chance de pouvoir dormir ici grace a un cadeau de Noel de mes soeurs: une nuit dans un bel hôtel a Jaipur. On a décide de répartir le cadeau sur deux nuits et on est vraiment ravis.

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Vers 15h, on quitte l’hôtel pour se rendre au coeur de la cité rose, c’est le nom donne a Jaipur a cause de la couleur des murs. En fait, c’est seulement de la peinture rose pour imiter l’effet ‘sandstone’.

On visite en premier le Palais de la ville, encore habite par le Maharadja, puis on se rend a Jantar Mantar, un grand parc avec d’énormes instruments d’astrologie et astronomie construits par le premier maharadja qui a construit Jaipur.

En sortant on se rend devant le Palais des Vents, qui n’est rien d’autre qu’une façade. C’était un endroit pour les femmes de la cour. Elles pouvaient regard ce qui se passait dans la rue sans être vues.

Après la visite, on rentre a l’hôtel. On décide de diner a nouveau sur le toit et je commande exactement la même chose, tellement c’était bon.