Friday, February 1, 2013

Jaipur

 Wednesday we go early to the Taj Mahal to avoid the crowds, even before breakfast. It is truly spectacular. The marble is Indian marble, very hard durable and stain resistant, unlike Italian marble. Good thing with all the pollution. Italian pollution is not as bad, but their outdoor marble statues are pitting.
After breakfast we stop at a factory/showroom where marvelous marble inlay is done. Inspired by the marble inlays at the Taj Mahal, we buy a small table.
Finally, we are on the road to Jaipur. On the way, in addition to agricultural fields, we see a large number of brick works. A tall smokestack chimney kiln for each and acres of high stacks of red bricks.

Major highways are toll roads wwith the toll booths run by concessionaires.

We pass tractors hauling trailers filled with bricks and small square houses simply built of bricks. These houses don't look earthquake proof at all. And, there are occasionally earthquakes in this region. What would you rather live in in earthquake country? A brick house, a stick house or a straw house?

About midway to Jaipur we stop to tour a huge abandoned city/fort. Fatehpur Sikri.




This column reminds me of European cathedrals.
 
Traveling on and nearing the outskirts of Jaipur we pass many small stoneworks where carvings from huge to small are hand carved, mostly from local granite. I can see the carvers at work making everything from a 5-foot-tall Lord Ganesh to small gift-shop items. These carvings are mostly shipped to Delhi for export. Sometimes the reason you find similar businesses together is that the same extended family of traditional stone carvers just set up business next to each other.

What do India drivers do if the horn breaks? Stop for major car repairs in the middle of the road.
I think they drive by echo location.

It is night and the weddings are happening everywhere. This is a good month astrologically for weddings. We pass right by one groom's procession.
The groom on a white horse.
We arrive at this lovely hotel where we have a huge brass sliding lock on the door of our sitting room and a high four-poster curtained bed in our bedroom; I'm so tired from the day's trip that I am almost dizzy.

Thursday we head to the Amer Fort in Jaipur. When we stop the bus for one photo opportunity on the way a nearby elephant sticks his nose in my open window. Petting an elephant's nose.

Getting Nosy
Since William and I will ride an elephant in Thailand we opt to race up the hill in a jeep with our guide Ravi.

A mirrored ceiling in the Amer Palace.
Farmers are delivering water buffalo milk. People make their own fresh cheese and yogurt from this milk.

Next we visit a jewelry manufacturing store where I bought William a replacement for his wedding ring lost in Mexico 4 years ago. We found a lovely star of India ruby in a nice man's setting.

The jewel like colors of India's vegetable stands.
After lunch we continued touring in Jaipur to the Observatory and Citi Palace.

We continue to the spice market and take a walk down a street filled with shops.
There was an old woman lying/sleeping on the sidewalk in Jaipur. I can't bring myself to take a picture, But this is a country with mostly no government social services. So this old woman who must have no relatives to care for her would have to rely on private charities. So she lies in the street. Also there are lots of beggars we are told to ignore.

Most of the group tires and heads back. Just four of us and the guide continue by Tuk Tuk to a Vishnu Temple built of intricately carved marble in 1986.
our Tuk Tuk crammed with 5 people

 Stained glass windows tell stories about Lord Vishnu and his consort Lakshmi. One window shows the baby Ganesh. The story goes that Shiva's consort Parvati kept interupting Shiva's meditation to beg for a child. So Shiva said he would bless her with the first thing that walked by which was an elephant.
Vishnu temple

Then, on to the antiquities store where we buy a beautiful brass Ganesh for the entry. Because the shipping is the same if you buy more, William adds a brass dancing Shiva.


Home through the gathering dusk in careening tuk tuks. There are no rules of the road that are followed except he who gets there first has the right to go unless someone cuts around. Lane lines are nonexistent or ignored. Such fun. We finally get home. It's been a long day but we are not as tired as last night. But the internet at the hotel is down. So no posting until tomorrow in Delhi.
Friday is a travel day on the bus back to Delhi. This is a slow trip due to highway construction.
Upgradation?

 A gravel truck has turned over at the edge of the road and two women are hauling the gravel out in bowels on their heads about the size of my large stainless mixing bowl.

 Trucks and busses are decorated like Mexico, but no Jesus on the dashboard.

One of our number has fallen ill and her brother and his wife stop to see her at the hospital.


I think we are lost as we are using back alleys to get back to the highway in a tour bus. But it works out.

Tomorrow up early for a train to Amritsar.

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