Ancient Astronomers Astrologers and Princes.
14.02.2013 - 16.02.2013 18 °C
On Valentines day after seeing the bengal Tigers we returned to our Oberoi Oasis, Shaken and stirred. We then dressed up for a romantic dinner in the outdoor dining area of the Oberoi Vanyvilas with a bonfire roaring in the centre of the dining room, skies above us and roses on the tables and Valentines greetings all organised by Claire our tour leader and Collin one of fellow travellers. All the while as she is wont to do the Hotel's General Manager and her wonderful staff tended to our every need. The meal was delicious and we were serenaded by a pair of local musicians. As we were returnig to our tent a wind sprang up and soon we had a major storm crashing over our heads. The tent moved in the wind and the rain but we slept, woken by occasional massive claps of thunder and lightning.
Yesterday morning we arose for breakfast and were farewelled by the staff and the 2 elephants who are owned by the hotel and which are available for rides. Some of our companions had even gone to see the elephants washes and be washed by them. We then drove in our coach the 4 hours to Jaipur along reasonable roads with the usual scenes of farm animals wandering along the road plus Elephants Camels and cycles of every type rushing in and out of the traffic. We finally entered the Pink City of Jaipur - coloured a TerraCotta colour in honour of a visit from Prince Albert in the latter 19th Century. We drove to our fabulous hotel - the Rambagh Palace which was once the home of the Maharaja of jaipur and is still owned by the family. Our room is huge with a four poster bed and black marble fitting in the huge bathroom. After briefly freshening up we toured the City Palace founded in 1721 with its Astronomical Observatory with dozens of highly accurate instruments which assisted the planning of crops, astrological forecasts of daily life and matrimony - a science that is still used by everday Indians to forecat marital compatability and other relationships. We toured the Palace and saw the textile museum and a number of the Royal appartments before taking a cycle rickshaw into the bazaars and crowded streets of old Jaipur.
We were taken to a Gem Factory and were told that most of the worlds precious Gems are cut and polished in Jaipur. We then partook of a viewing of jewellery sourced from Sapphires Emeralds and Rubys and returned to our hotel. In the evening about 15 of us travelled to another part of town to a small palce which is now a Hotel which accomodates 12 couples or guests. Unchanged since 1871 we met the current Royal and were given a tour of the hotel then sat down for a buffet meal.
This morning we woke to a rainy Jaipur and left after breakfast for our Elephant Ride up to the Amber Fortress which overlooks the city of Jaipur. Dozens of brightly painted Elephants toil up and down the steep entrance to this Mughal Fort built over 500 yeats ago. We then toured the fort and were able to see the restored mirror hall at the Forts centre. On the wway back to the hotel we stopped of at the Hawa Mahal of House of the Wind
which housed the women of the Harem and allowed them to view the Maharajah's processions down the main street of Jaipur which today is crowded with traffic, Snake Charmers, monkeys and traffic chaos. A planned hill walk between 2 ancient forts in the nearby Aravalli Hills was cancelled due to the inclement and wet weather.
Tonight we are to have a special meal and are expected to dress up in a Sari which will be provided by Scenic tours and a turban also provided.
What a fantastic trip so far and 8 more days to go.