Saturday, July 09, 2005

Jaipur, Rama Man Singh Temple, Elephant Ride to Shila Mata (Day 5)

We were up before dawn to depart for Jaipur. This city is in the state of Rajasthan, and is about 3 hours' drive away from Delhi. Jaipur was originally uniformly painted creme, and is set up on a grid with a main through-way that is six elephants wide (which, at the time, was a big deal). At some point, one of the area leaders decided the city would be painted pink, and now all stores are mandated to paint their storefront to this particluar color (which I thought was more of an orange than a pink, actually.)

Our first stop was at the Rama Man Singh temple (the City Palace). This was an intricately painted palace that was much more modern than many of the others we visited. I was surprised to see an Indian midget guarding one of the buildings. His name was Suraj, and I got a picture with him:

In this same palace, Lee was able to bargain for three tablas (drums) and two discs of tabla music for only Rs 3000. This palace was nice, but not entirely impressive.

At our next stop, we rode elephants! We were at Amber palace, and we fit four to an elephant headed up a path that cut back and forth up the hill. I sat next to Nikky Singh, and Donna and Megan sat behind us. When we reached the top, we were surrounded by people trying to hock crap on us. "Silk" pictures of elephants, pictures of us riding the elephants (one-minute photo, anyone?), little wooden carvings, etc. I was even offered someone's child to hold, which I've heard plenty enough stories about to know better than doing. Anyway, we headed past that to a Hindu temple dedicated to a blood-taking God. They used to sacrifice goats to it, but that was made illegal, so now I guess the God is hungry, but whatever. This temple, like most of the others, was constructed of beautiful white marble. Oh yeah, and you always have to take off your shoes when you enter these temples. And in this particular one, you couldn't bring in anything leather (which I found humorous, given that it was a blood-taking God). We headed out of here and further up to the palace above. It was expansive, and Cathy said that she almost got lost in it last time she was there. It was a very nice palace, with a large central garden and beautiful silver-inlaid rooms. A man lit a candle, and the reflections in all the inlaid silver looked like stars in a night sky. It was a very large palace with lots of long hallways, screened windows, and other architecture. It is built next to a man-made lake, which elephants were bathing in at the time. On our way out, I offered one of the beggars 2 rupees for some carving I didn't want, hoping he would be insulted and leave me alone. Instead, he followed me all the way out of the palace, and even back down the elephant path. I was bounding the steps three at a time and had almost lost him, when my group starting huddling at the top of the hill. I climbed back up, and eventually gave up and bought his wares. Please note that I am fairly adept at getting street merchants to leave me alone, both because I say nahi (no) and jow (leave me alone), and because I'm 6'2'' 190. But this guy was persistent. I ended up getting him to drop his price from Rs 300 for one elephant figure, to Rs 100 for 4. The bonus, of course, is that he finally left me alone.

We then drove back to the hotel. That night, we went to "Spice" a pre-fee restaurant. Pre-fee means you pay a set price and can have as much of as many of the options as you want, which they bring out one by one. Let me advise any fellow travelers against eating "Goat Trotter soup." Firstly, because argument by design suggests that goat's feet should never enter your body in any form. Secondly, because this soup made me cry twice before I gave up on it. I like spicy food, but seriously...I heard some guy almost have a heart attack later in the evening, and I think I know why.

That night, we planned to go to an Indian wedding. On the drive in, we saw chalked elephants, decorated camels, lights, and all other sorts of livestock and equipment being brought in for the processional. Unfortunately, as we were tired and had to be up early the next day, we ended up falling asleep instead...=(

As an aside, Christy Brook says hi.

No comments: