Jaipur was the final book in our trilogy of India. We had become used to the madness of the country and also had got to know our fellow travellers, so in combination this probably made it the most enjoyable city. Jaipur was painted pink for the visit of Prince Albert and they liked it so much they decided to keep it that way, long after he had gone. It does mean that the area is kept fairly clean – by Indian standards. It is complimented by the red and pink sandstone used in many of the other buildings.
The main sights we visited were the City Palace, the Wind Palace, (or at least stood outside to take photos) and the Amer Fort. The Wind Palace was created with an unusual architecture in order to allow the women of the royal household to observe street festivals while unseen from the outside. The Wind part comes because the combination of building and location allows a cool breeze to pass through it.
The City Palace and Amer Fort are still used for various functions so alongside the historical features are more practical modern ones. The Fort is a particularly impressive building. Standing high on a hill as part of the wall of ancient fortifications it’s sprawling layout is difficult to navigate but rewarding to wander around especially when combined with the stories of previous residents.
There was a couple of additional activities in Jaipur which we took part in. 4 of the group, including Ann, had a Bollywood dance lesson. The instructor was very good and broke down the moves to a manageable length, before putting them all together at the end. The result was a well coordinated and impressively authentic spectacle! The other option, which I took, was a little less energetic- to go and watch a Bollywood film at the cinema! The cinema itself was amazing, a vast auditorium of a type that we don’t have in the days of cineplexs and art house cinemas. It took me back to the Saturday morning cinema at the Odeon in Edinburgh, as did the number of children present (including babies) at what would have been at least a 15 in the U.K. The audience participation was equally vocal. The film wasn’t an all singing and dancing affair that we had expected but basically an Indian version of Taken. The hero Shiivay after whom the film is named was a Liam Neeson/ James Bond cross who’s signature move was the head butt! It was good fun though and we returned to Delhi the following day to end our trip.
I think the Golden Triangle tour takes you to the places in India most people would want to see but unfortunately along the way you probably experience the worst of what India has to offer. It seems a place of wild inequality both historically and currently. Where wealth has been squandered by the few and although this has resulted in many of the beautiful buildings and monuments we visited, it has come at a cost to the rest of the population. From what I have seen, which is obviously only over a short time, it is straightjacketed by it’s caste system and in many ways by it’s religions and will find it difficult to progress with those having the power that they hold over people.