India Part Two
Our first stop of the day was the magnificent Palace of the Winds. The palace stands elevated among the buzzing markets of Jaipur, with the chaos of the traffic and people beneath it, only the tourists paying attention to the grandiose building towering above. The palace itself is made from the most beautiful red and pink sandstone lattice-work, with five unique floors and 953 small windows. Inside, we discovered the most amazing hand painted doors, embellished with flowers, trees and patterned framework - so inspiring!
And now to the part of the day we were most excited for - shopping! The Indian bazaars are a complete bombardment of the senses from every angle and are a truly fantastic adventure. Walking through the streets, tuk-tuks noisily honking on the road on one side, and local vendors enthusiastically trying to sell you just about anything from saris to bangles, pom-pom adorned shoes, parasols, mirrored bedspreads and gem stones on the other. Turning the corner, we are surrounded by pots and pans and fruit piled on the side of the road, with motorbikes whizzing past carrying families of five, including women dressed in their beautiful saris while holding onto their babies tightly. And if we didn’t think this was already overwhelmingly colourful and busy, it was about to get a whole lot busier!
From the bazaars, we turned down a side alley into a windy narrow street, tantalised by the sights ahead. The pushing and shoving that prevailed, combined with the incessant horns of the motorbikes barging their way through the hustle and bustle of the pedestrians was such an eye opening taster of day to day life in Jaipur. The complete visual overload then hit us like a flashing disco ball, our eyes dancing every which way you look - a true feast for all the senses. Once we started to digest our surroundings, we are told that this was a normal day at a traditional wedding market, where the families go to purchase everything you would need for an Indian wedding.
The Indian families sit on the floor, cross-legged gathering around the bride who tries on a multitude of saris. Traditionally wearing red, the more embellished the sari is, the more impressive. The level of embellishment reflects wealth of the family and these pieces are truly incomprehensible - the combination of the stitch, detail and bead-work is sensational. Every piece made is unique. The local people stare at us in fascination and the feeling is mutual, every woman is dressed from head to toe in the most vibrant colours and adorned in intricate jewellery, immersed in the task of finding everything they need for their upcoming weddings.
The day began with a bumpy jeep ride to Amber Fort. This magnificent red sandstone and marble fort is an extensive complex of interconnecting palaces full of courtyards, veiled windows and latticed galleries, all overlooking the beautiful Maota Lake below. We found a courtyard upon courtyard lined with beautiful frescoed arches and in the maharaja’s apartments, rooms filled with in-laid ivory panels, carved marble and an impressive mosaic-mirrored ceiling. As we wandered, we enjoyed yet more hand painted trees adorning the walls, archways within archways, and elephants parading the courtyard; this monumental building was certainly an impressive way to begin our last day in Jaipur.
In the afternoon we were compelled to return to the traditional Indian wedding market again, having been so bowled over the previous day. Entering with more of an idea of what to expect, it was much easier to absorb the beautiful surroundings. We stumbled across a haberdashery; like many of the typical shops in the bazaars, the floor was covered with mattresses. We entered the shop after taking off our shoes to sit, legs crossed, amongst the colourful chaos within. The vendors pulled products from the shelves so eager to help us find treasures to return home with. Ribbon after ribbon was pulled out and shown to us, adding to the pile on the floor, adorned with pom-poms, tassels, gems, sequins, gold thread and every colour you could possibly imagine. Choosing which to take home really was the hardest part, but we managed!
On our way out of the Jaipur we passed the iconic Patrika Gate. The Patrika Gate is the most colourful door in the city, giving you a peek into the vibrant Indian culture. Most impressive when you stand inside, the arches within arches giving the impression of never ending colour and pattern layered on top of one another. And so we were to start the drive to Pushkar, a pilgrimage town known for its sacred lake, temples and annual trading fete of cattle, horses and camels that happened to be just about to start.
To be continued …