31.03.2015 - 31.03.2015
Our second day in Jaipur was a sightseeing day. We hired tuk tuks for the whole day to take us to all the major sights of the city. We started off with a ride to the Amber Fort, a 700 year old palace of the Kings of old. It is huge, and sprawling and very impressive. Jaipur used to be the Capitol City, because it's where the king lived, but 400 years ago, it was moved to Delhi, and no one has lived in the fort since. The red brick structure was just full of memories and history, and had so many hidden passageways, and tucked away rooms. Unfortunately, we were on a bit of time limit, so we weren't able to explore as much as we wanted, but even so, it was a incredible. The paint on the walls is the original colours from 700 years ago, the famous Mirror Palace, (the King's winter home) was breath taking. We could only imagine what it must have been like with the oil lamps reflecting in the thousands of hand placed mirrors. The King had 9 wives, so he built a square block with 3 apartments per side, with a secret passage running behind them all, so none of them would get jealous of each other as he went from room to room. As we walked around, we could almost imagine the rich curtains, lush materials and lavish furniture filling them. When we had taken enough photos, and learned enough history, we headed back to our tuk tuks (and personal drivers for the day, ours was called Samil, and was hilarious!!) and we set off for the Water Palace. This one we couldn't go in to, because it is in the middle of a lake. It was a brief stop, but it looked amazing, and made for yet more beautiful pictures.
We then headed to lunch, as a group, before splitting up for the afternoon to see what sights we wanted to. My little group decided that we would go to a textile place first, where we were shown how they dye the materials first of all, all with natural colours. They were in the process of dying a couple of huge long lengths of material, one green - that deep rich emerald green, for which they use spinach, and one red - an edible, luscious, bright red, for which they use rose petals and a spice I can't remember. We were then shown the printing process. It hadn't occurred me to how much work went into block printing. For each design it takes at least 2 (usually up to about 6 or 7) blocks, all overlaid with different coloured paint, to create the final picture. It takes about 8 people a couple of weeks to finish off one roll of material! After this, he took us upstairs to see some of the finished products. He started with the most basic, lowest quality and price sheets and table cloths and worked his way up to the most expensive blankets and duvet covers. Our reactions were similar to that when watching fireworks...every new piece he brought out was met with a 'ooooh' or 'aaaah' or, on a couple of occasions, a ridiculously sharp intake of breath! Mainly when he was telling us about the next piece, which was a quilted blanket made out of scraps of old wedding dresses. As he unfurled it, the design was a huge patchwork elephant, made out of hundreds of different scraps of intricate lace sleeves, delicately patterned necklines, and bold waistlines. We were awestruck. They were beautiful! I could have spent all kinds money there, but luckily I resisted, seeing as my budget would not have stretched to that. Even if they were only £90 - a total steal for the amount of work in them.
After the girls had chosen their elephants (they weren't as strong willed as I was!!) we then left to go to a Monkey Temple. We hired a local guide, who was a young kid, straight out of Uni, trying to improve his English. There were monkeys everywhere, ranging from teeny tiny baby ones, to big, occasionally scary, adult ones. We learned the history of the temple, again, it was about 700 years old, and it is used as a sort of training camp for the Hindu version of young priests. A sort of monastery I guess. There are 3 natural swimming pools there too, one for men, one for women and one for the monkeys. People come to bathe to wash away their sins, or wrongdoings. I have to say, I wouldn't be too keen to jump in, the water wasn't exactly the cleanest!! After watching the young kids playing cricket in amongst the old temples, we were then given the opportunity to feed the monkeys! Of course I jumped at the chance! It's supposed to be good karma, so I thought why not!?! Luckily our guide was there to shoo away the big scary ones, so it was just the adorable baby ones eating out of our hands. Oh they were so cute!! I wanted to take them home with me! Ha!
After a long day of sightseeing we met up as a group again for dinner, to catch up on each other's afternoons activities. Then it was back to the hotel to pack for the next early start. Although I ended up sitting and chatting with Vikash, and a couple of the others from the group, one of whom I hadn't really spoken to much yet, until the wee small hours of the morning! It was nice to get to know them a little better, however sleepy I might have been the next day!