A journey back to Middle Earth…

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Monkey Fort!

Yesterday we spent another day in Jaipur. After an 11 o’clock start (late for us) we headed to Jaigarh Fort which is an old army fort on one of the hills overlooking Jaipur where there were lots of monkeys which we fed, with bread. Some of the females had babies clinging on to them. After going inside the fort where the biggest cannon in the world is, a monkey ran past, thought mama was a handhold or a tree, jumped on her and ran on which came as a shock to all of us. Luckily she was fine. Next we headed off to the Nahargarh fort where we got some views of the old city of Jaipur, took photos and had some drinks before heading to the old town, called the pink city, to do some shopping. After that we went to eat (it was already 5ish and we hadn’t had lunch) at a great restaurant where we had the best paneer dish (Indian cottage cheese) I’ve had since we’ve been in India and, trust me, we’ve had a lot of paneer!




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Elephants Riding!!

The next day we went sightseeing in Jaipur. Our driver had booked a guide to show us around the city while he drove us to the sights. The first sight was the Amber Fort. To get up the hill, Me,Mama, and Milan rode on an elephant, (my favourite animal) while Papa and the Guide walked. The elephant had a sort of platform on its back with bars surrounding it so we couldn’t fall off. The ride was great but the riders had small clubs for guiding them, with a spike on the end and they were poking the elephants with them which I thought was really cruel. Once we got off and went into a Hindu temple where people were praying in. then we walked into a garden and we then saw a building with mirrors on it, called the Jai Mandir (hall of victory). Also known as the winter palace. the guide explained to us how with big velvet curtains and oil lamps, it was kept warm inside. The most memorable part was where the king played hide and seek with his wives. The rules were slightly different at the time, 1 hides i.e. the king and 12 seek i.e. his wives! After lunch we headed back into the old town also known as the Pink City, (originally painted pink to welcome the Prince of Wales in 1876) the main sights we saw were the city palace and the early 18th century observatory called Jantar Mantar. The small sun dials have a 20 second time accuracy, but Jai Singh II the founder of the city and great warrior & astronomer wanted it to be more accurate so a larger one was constructed with a 2 second time accuracy. After we got back to the hotel we watched a puppet show before dinner and ended the day filled with many facts, figures and dates!



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Bird Sancturaries

We had a great overnight stay in what was described in the LP as a homestay but highly recommended. It certainly delivered and the care & attention by the owner Mr Burman made our stay enjoyable and memorable.
Difficult as it is to move on from the Taj Mahal from an architectural beauty viewpoint and all it signifies, our 240km journey to Jaipur, the final point of India’s “Golden Triangle” included a couple of interesting interludes.
First was to take a further step back to visit the abode of Shah Jahan’s grandfather Emperor Akbar in Fatehput Sikri which served as the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1571 to 1585. The complex was planned on Persian principles and consists of a number of pavilions arranged in a formal geometry and also reflects the genius of Akbar in assimilating diverse regional architectural influences, including the palaces built for each of his 3 wives of different religions (Muslim, Hindu & Christian).
The other break in the journey was a visit to the Keoladeo National Park Bird Sanctuary in Bharatpur which has sighted over 370 species of birds. We were only able to make a dent in the 29 sq km park in our 2 hours on cycle rickshaw but were certainly rewarded with some great sightings. Highlights were the White Breasted Eagle, Painted Storks and Kingfisher.
Our day ended with an evening arrival in Jaipur where our “light & sound show” of the day was finding the Hotel trying to navigate our way through the busy streets of the city with no sat nav and minimal street signage…