5th of August, it's my birthday! We wanted to celebrate it in a different place from Annabelle's one so we started our road trip to Jaipur. On the way, a few interesting sites to visit.
On the way to Jaipur
- Fatehpur Sikri palace
Around 40 km away from Agra, this palace was built by the Emperor Akbar in 1572. As the Red Fort in Agra, it is made of red sandstone. We walked through the different rooms and gardens, beautiful. The architecture is amazing and it's a mix of Hindu, Persian, Mughal, Turkish and Buddhist arts. It also reflects how the Emperor used to live. He had 3 wives: Hindu, Muslim and Christian, each with her own palace with its own style. Those 3 religions are represented everywhere with different symbols: flowers, arches and crosses.
A few meters away, we visited Jama Masjid, the mosque. We entered by the amazing gate. It looks simple at first sight but the inside is really pretty with lots of details on the walls. Inside, the marble tomb of Sheikh Salim Chishti, the advisor of Akbar. We also had a look at what is supposed to be a tunnel that leads to the Taj Mahal or the Red Fort of Agra. Again, it is full of history and really interesting.
- Abhaneri Chand Baori
This spectacular Boari (pit) was built in the 8th century to keep rain water for dry season and do ablutions. It is one of the biggest in Rajasthan, 20 meters depth! The visit was quick but was worth the small detour.
We arrived in Jaipur on Sunday evening. We just had some time to take a shower and dress us up for my birthday night. We had booked a restaurant with Indian live music, the Peacock restaurant. It is a rooftop terrace, really well decorated with a nice atmosphere. Food was delicious, again we ate curry, naan and a biryani (Indian fried rice). When the desert came, the 3 musicians started to play and sing "happy birthday", an unforgettable and unexpected moment! But that was not it. On our way back to the hotel we talked with our tuk-tuk driver and when he learnt it was my birthday, he let me drive the tuk-tuk! AHAH what a moment!
We left our private driver on that day, we are now back to backpacking, traveling with train, tuk-tuk and negotiating everything!
We started the next day by visiting the "Pink city" main attraction: the City Palace, a museum (weapons, textile, etc. of Rajasthan) in a beautiful palace. We spent an hour walking around the gardens, pavilions, rooms, palaces, and reading the guide book trying to imagine how the Maharaja used to leave. It is actually still used by the current Maharaja and his family! A flag is set when the family is in it, and they actually were there!
We then visited Jantar Mantar, an observatory built in the 18th century. It shows the passion that the Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II and Indian people in general have for astronomy. We could for example see the biggest sundial of the world, with 27 meters height! It was really surprising for me to see this interest in astrology/astronomy in Indian culture.
After that, we walked in the Pink City to reach Hawa Mahal, the palace of the winds. The pyramidal facade is famous in Jaipur. The place is really pretty. The inside has nothing outstanding, except the view it offers from the top. A really nice view of Jaipur.
We walked around the old city, every building/house is painted in pink and the markets are so colourful. Since we arrived, it was actually the first time we wandered in the streets and it was really enjoyable.
For our last day in Jaipur, we decided to take a tuk-tuk for the whole afternoon to go outside the city to visit Amber Palace, old capital city of Maharaja from Jaipur during the 16th century. It is surrounded by fortification of 9km length. After going up the stairs for ten minutes to reach the palace we finally arrived in a big square facing a door to enter the palace. Inside is amazing with paintings, mirrors, gardens, great view of the fortification. It is actually very big. So big that we even got lost!
We also went to Shiromani temple, 10 min walking from the palace. It is a very nice temple and looks like how I imagined Indian temples. The atmosphere was peaceful, no tourist here.
On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at Jal Mahal (water palace). We can't visit it, but the view is great. The palace reflects on the water, really good for pictures.
The last stop was at Gaitor, where we could walk around 3 tombs of Maharaja in a peaceful garden. We really liked the atmosphere until Annabelle got scared by aggressive monkeys!
Jaipur was a nice stop. We wished we had a little bit more time to walk around the old city but with me working every morning, time is reduced.