Northern India – Jaipur


We finally arrived in Jaipur after a long afternoon on the road from Agra. Our polite, mild-mannered driver became increasing aggressive as the drive wore on and the congestion intensified. With a maniacal look in his eye and a sinister laugh, he began comparing driving in India to playing video games. Was this some sort of Indian version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?

Then traffic came to a dead stop just outside of Jaipur. The evening traffic pouring out of the city like a mass exodus before some impending disaster. The departing vehicles, packed with people, had taken up all the lanes leaving no room for the few cars heading into town. Deepak, still locked in video game mode creates his own lane along the shoulder to bypass the congestion. Finally, policemen enforcing the imaginary center line allow the incoming traffic to crawl the rest of the way into town. Just after 9PM we reach our hotel in a quiet suburb of the city.

Next Morning – Walking Tour

With our upcoming trek in Nepal and not having exercised in days, we decide to brave the streets of Jaipur and walk to the Pink City, so named for the city wall and buildings all originally painted pink to welcome the Prince of Wales in 1876. It’s not far from the hotel, Pearl Palace Heritage (1.5 to 2 miles), but it was not pleasant walking along dirty streets, horns blaring.

Once we passed through the Chandpol gate into the old city the dreariness brightened with the stalls of colorful goods, women dressed in dazzling fabrics and the surrounding pink façades of the crumbling buildings. You could just stand still and watch the parade of daily life flow past you, from elegantly dressed young families out on a Sunday stroll to scrawny peasants pulling heavy loads on flimsy bicycles. 

Fruits, fabrics, pasta, plastic goods, etc. line the crowded sidewalk. My favorite area is along the Johari Bazaar (the eastside), where rich fabrics overflow the tiny stalls.

A cow joins us for our tour of the last section of the bazaar, feeling completely at home meandering along the sidewalk looking for something good to eat. Sadly all she manages to find are some wilted marigolds.


Jantar Mantar Observatory

Jantar Mantar Observatory, an impressive outdoor collection of 18th century astronomy devices begun in 1728 by Jai Singh the founder of the Jaipur. The complex looks more like a crazy sculpture garden than a place of serious study.

City Palace

The City Palace in the center of the walled city offers another opportunity to watch the Indian tourists decked out in their Sunday best. Built in the early 1700s by Jai Singh it has been modified through the centuries.

Hawa Mahal

Hawa Mahal – described as a “honey combed hive” in Lonely Planet, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Built in 1799 for the ladies of the royal household it is half-palace half-play ground with brightly colored mosaic glass windows, peepholes and narrow passages connecting the multistoried structures.


Leaving Jaipur at 5 in the morning to catch our flight back to Delhi and on to Varanasi was the complete opposite of our anarchic arrival. Finally India sleeps. With hardly a soul on the street the taxi driver, however, is still compelled to blow his horn at the few vehicles he passes.

October 20-22, 2012

For links to all the posts in this series see the Northern India page.

2 thoughts

  1. God, amazing pictures indeed! I have to, have to go! for some reason I did not go as young woman. I was worried about water borne illnesses as a backpacker. But I lived through hepatitis, which I survived from poor sanitation in Native American villages. Never got anything so bad in “developing” nations.
    Gorgeous colors and intriguing people photos here. You have an eye for sure!

    1. Renee, you make me blush. India is intense but it’s worth it for the people, color, tastes, smells…I would definitely put it on your list. Really didn’t have any problems with the food or water, but you should be careful.

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