We had been friends for aeons now so it was bound to happen. More than a million conversations later, that stretched for hours on the phone, the girl gang of two (Number 3 dropped out), decided to take the long overdue no men or kids, girls only trip.
We picked Jaipur, famed for its opulent palaces, staggering forts, breezy cottons, colourful gems and jewellery. Also neither of us had been there. Brimming with nostalgia and anticipation, we raced from our respective cities to have a kickass holiday.
My first impression…
Seriously, I could be in any city in India. Where are the camels, the sand dunes?
Man! So many vehicles on the road. Everything looks so brown and cream.
Then the pinkness of the city hit us.
The above structure was quickly snapped as our cab driver nonchalantly mentioned that that was just one of the eight gates that surrounded the city.
Ajmeri Gate and Sanganeri Gate were two of the imposing entrances whose names kept popping up, they lead into the shoppers paradise of jewellery, fabric, leather and gems.
Our trip was off to a great start!
As we raced from one bazaar to the next, we realised that every shopfront in every market, Bapu Bazaar, Jahuri Bazaar, a bazaar dedicated to selling turbans, looked exactly the same. It was a maze for they all were painted in the same shade of salmon pink.
The roadside buildings with attractive jharokas, the interiors of the famous Govind Dev Ji Temple, a random temple on our way to the Hawa Mahal, pink again.
The biggest mall was expectedly called the ‘Pink Square’ and yes, we did go there too.
It was like any other mall.
Drank our delicious mock tail called what else, but Pink City.
The meal that followed though was of a different colour, Spice Court Restaurant special- keema bhatti, dough balls stuffed with mince.
Add to this, the experience of eating in the open courtyard, the moon scattering its silvery light on the graceful dancer and the lilting tunes of the folk singers wafting in the air, all simply magical.
This was my lunch, the vegetarian Rajasthani Thali at Kailash Restaurant which was devoured with much gusto.
We were determined to savour all the flavours that the Pink City had to offer.
Day One also discovered the persistence of rickshaw drivers and the trinket sellers to strike conversation confidently with offer to help, guide or sell.
Some favourite icebreakers, “Very cheap deal”, “Only for you”, “Take my card/ phone number and call me any time”, “Which country are you from?”
Oops! Not a dollar rich tourist here.
Tripping around, gazing in wonder, stumbled on to some colourful locals that made a pretty picture.
I happily clicked them and then came their demands for tips.
C’mon, you posed for it and never mentioned it came at a price!
Ah well! There was so much more to see and marvel.
These peacock doorways, there were four in the City Palace, were subtly different from the others and yet each one was magnificent. Their iridescent colours scattered and shined in the sun and doubled as the most popular backdrop for the visitors to click against.
It was a miracle that I could photograph two without an arm or a leg cutting across the frame.
Close by was the Jantar Mantar observatory, a must see spot.
This appreciation walk happened in the blazing afternoon sun while I slowly turned a bright shade of pink in the heat. Yet inspite of the physical discomfort, I loved the place and the photographs speak for it.
After all how often can you boast of seeing gigantic astronomy gadgets laid out in beautifully manicured lawns.
Most importantly, they work!
That’s a humongous solar clock displaying the local time perfectly. Watch out for the shadow against the markings on the white stone.
The other closest monument was the Hawa Mahal or the Palace of winds.
It stood in the middle of the busy market with a zillion windows overlooking the street.
Peeped through one and saw how the ladies of the royal family had a bird’s eye view of the hustle and bustle on the street.
We also pencilled in the Sound and Light Show at Amber Fort that had to be the piece de resistance of the trip.
One word – mesmerising!
Made me forget all those anxious minutes I watched the clock tick while my friend insisted that the auto rickshaw be diverted to a Padmini Collections. Apparently Google said that’s where she would be able to buy her object of desire.
Well Google, you were wrong!
You almost made us miss the show.
Anyway next morning, we were back at the same fort, Amber just in time to catch the elephant caravan, check out the Sheesh Mahal or the hall of mirrors, winding passages and dark tunnels and the Artchill Gallery.
Yes! They were all memorable and it was an entry free- no ticket day, thanks to Rajasthan Day Celebrations.
It is rightly said, traveling is the awakening of senses. I certainly felt alive.
From the eyes that were dazzled by the colours of the city, the tongue that tasted the simple and exotic flavours of the land, a heart that was serenaded by the earthy voices of the soil, many beliefs were strengthened and misconceptions corrected.
In the end can’t resist signing off without a ‘Jai Ho’ Jaipur!
Weekly Photo Challenge: Awakening