Four Countries in 2 Weeks: Turkey, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and India
India Day 6 – A day of sightseeing in Jaipur with an elephant ride at Amer Fort, photo ops at Jal Mahal, and a hilarious guide at the City Palace of Jaipur. A long drive to Udaipur concludes the day.
With another morning of touring before a drive to Udaipur, we had a quick breakfast at our hotel and loaded up into the van to start the day.
Our guide introduced himself and would be showing us the Jaipur sites for the day. He was one of the worst guides I’ve ever had the pleasure of following.
After a short ride we arrived at the most famous site of Jaipur. The walled fort sitting atop a mountain was built in 1592 by the king, Raja Man Singh I.
We walked up the ramp to find a mass of painted elephants lined up to take tourists up into the main courtyard. Each elephant had a rider sitting on the neck area while the tourists sit on cushions on a metal platform strapped to the back of the slow beasts.
Our transport offered nice views over the fort but it was sad to see the elephants being used as tourist ferries.
Once we arrived in the courtyard, the rider took us to a platform to disembark. Immediately we were surrounded by peddlers that we entertained until the rest of our party arrived.
Then we had our first hint of our guide’s quality. He introduced the fort and then advised against going inside.
It’s not that interesting, but you can go if you WANT…
Uh… Yes. Yes, we will go in.
Begrudgingly he took us in.
Once inside he didn’t seem very interested in showing us around, so we went into exploration mode and saw all the nooks and crannies. The Ganesh Pol Entrance was very ornate and the Sheesh Mahal was very impressive with its imported Belgian glassware.
At one point our guide stopped the tour to confess that he is an alcoholic. We stood around doe-eyed wondering how to respond to the awkward situation. This was our second hint.
On our way out, next to the line of jeeps were some Gray Langur monkeys lounging in a nearby tree.
The driver picked us up and took us to the water palace, sitting in the middle of Man Sagar Lake. This structure built in the 18th century was recently renovated in 2004. Around the same time, the Government of Rajasthan worked on restoring the polluted lake.
Our guide insisted we stay in the car and one person was allowed to leave to take some pictures for everyone.
We of course completely ignored him and all went by the lake’s edge. That was hint three.
We drove into the city center to see the City Palace. The intricate red sandstone wall designed to represent the crown of Krishna was built in 1799. The amount of detail of the latticed balconies was impressive.
City Palace of Jaipur
We stopped at the complex where the Maharaja of Jaipur ruled.
Before we could exit the car, our guide mentioned that the palace was not very interesting and there’s no point in going in… Why did he want to rush us through the tour so much? Hint four.
The palace, built in 1729 -1732, is mostly now a museum. One section of the palace is still used by the royal family. The museum’s displays were housed in several buildings, each with a theme.
On entering we found the preparations for a fancy wedding reception and meandered through as staff were busy setting up. Under a pavilion we saw the two giant silver pots that hold a Guinness World Record for the largest sterling silver vessels in the world.
Mubarak Mahal housed the textiles and we saw some clothes that looked like a giant bed sheet which was used by a very overweight ruler.
Chandra Mahal was the main building to visit that offered a panoramic view over Jaipur.
We walked through Diwan-I-Aam, a large hall with chandeliers and oil paintings of past rulers.
The last visit was to the armory at Maharani palace which displayed many kinds of antique weaponry.
And that concluded our tour of Jaipur. But wait, our guide had one more “must-see” site to visit. We couldn’t miss the block printing factory! I mean Amer Fort and the Palace of Jaipur aren’t worth visiting… but the block printing factory, now THAT’S worth a visit!
Worst. Guide. Ever.
Once our guide left the car, we went to visit the office of the tour company, Sun N Sand Holidays, that set up our little excursion. We met with Mr. Tripathi who greeted us with the traditional red dye on the forehead and a necklace of orange marigolds. We sat and discussed our tour experience so far on the trip. They were very friendly, but we couldn’t stay as we had a long drive ahead of us.
The route to Udaipur would take about six hours. We only made one stop at an awful tourist-trap restaurant for lunch. We passed the time with mini-chess on some wooden souvenirs that Neel purchased.
The traffic was crazy. We saw everything in the highway from elephants to roadkill cows. There was even a truck driving against traffic in the fast lane!
On our arrival at our hotel, Sheraton Udaipur Palace Resort & Spa, we quickly checked in and settled into our rooms. Quite satiated at this point, we ended our day with a curry feast at Antara, one of the restaurants in the hotel.
Udaipur touring up next!