Jaipur is a large town, 4.5 million, and our accommodations are city center. We are staying in an old house that has been part of the family for three hundred years. It is built around a courtyard. Our rooms are on ground level, with interior balconies.
Our host is from the noble class and the most gracious of all out hosts. Over a glass of wine he explained the problem of having a 32 year old unwed daughter. She is a professional so it has been difficult to find a proper match in spite of several astrological readings of all the family charts. The last astrologist told them that something will happen this spring. They have convinced the daughter to give up her job and come home to wait. As part of the bargain they will allow her to manage the family horse farm. He went on about the financial obligations of the wedding, 21 dresses, Jewellery, several days of parties….
Later the host took us to shop for the food we would need for our cooking lesson. When we returned from market we began to cook a special Indian meal. The first part of the meal was cooked as one would on a camping trip in the desert. The fire was made with camel dung, mutton was cooked in a coconut and bread was cooked in the embers. We also cooked several dishes in the kitchen. It was an unbelievable experience.
In the morning we visited Palace of the wind inside the city walls. This was an addition to the city palace that allowed the 13 wives and concubines to view the happenings in the city and not be seen by the people on the street. The structure is made of pink stone as is the wall around the city, thus giving it the name PINK CITY. It was inside the city’s walls we saw snake charmers coaxing cobras in baskets to sway to the music of their pipe.
The next stop was the Amber Fort, high on a hill, that is home to the main palace and military. You travel up the narrow roads by Jeep or elephant. Following local style the interior court yards are surrounded by rooms of inlaid marble, fine mosaics and wall paintings. Now a museum, we visited textiles and clothing displays. We were most in awe of the clothes of the large ruler who was seven feet tall and weighed over 350 lbs.
The last stop was the amazing observatory built by the king. It’s large sundial is accurate within 2 seconds every 200 years. Many of these large instruments track the sky for astrological purposes which are important in the Hindu culture.
Our nighttime entertainment was a marionette show.
On Tuesday we visited the town of Bagru, once textile designer for the king, now famous for its block printing and all natural dyes. the community is generations old, everyone is related and involved in the business. This tour was very educational.
We attended a Polo match in the afternoon.