01.06.2016 - 02.06.2016 105 °F
Planes are a lot like daycare. There's snack time, nap time, no one pays attention when directions are being administered, and adults ringing the bell for service is the equivalent of a child raising his hand for a special request. While most of us comport ourselves as responsible members of society below 30,000 feet, many of us have had our moments at cruising altitude at one point or another.
Exhausted from the five hour safari, subsequent three hour car ride to the airport, and the layover between flights, I was acting rather petulant and sensitive by the time we boarded our connection to Jaipur. I felt like I needed a shower, a nap, and lots of food. I bitched and moaned about a few things before falling asleep. Ever the vigilant wife, Danielle made sure to buy juice and a snack so that I had something when I woke up. Awaking much more reasonable than when I had fallen into the slumber, I thanked her meekly for taking care of me. Anyone can have fun, but taking care of a bitchy husband takes strength.
We landed in Jaipur, and we promptly passed out. Danielle awoke at 3 AM to a barrage of emails from work. Things needed to get done, and she was out for our first day in Jaipur. I asked her to reconsider, but the call of duty compelled her to stay back. It was back to my days as a solo traveler as I headed out to the heat on my own.
Jaipur is the capitol of the desert state of Rajasthan, a state located in Northwest India about 160 miles from Delhi. Jaipur is affectionately known as the pink city because the King decreed that the city be painted pink, a color that denotes hospitality, in honor of the visit of Prince Albert in the late 19th century. Now citizens are required by law to maintain the pink color on the exterior of their buildings.
Gate to the Pink City
Amber fort was constructed in the early 16th century by Raja Man Singh, and it acted for a time as the capitol of the kingdom. The fort was later renovated by Jai Singh, the king that Jaipur is named after. The complex is absolutely massive, and it was easy to get lost in the various stairways and corridors. There isn't much documented history on the fort, but I've detailed what I learned in captions below.
Amber fort in the distance
The main entrance
This was the entrance to the King's private quarters. If you look closely above the archway, there is a picture of Ganesh, a Hindu deity. It is believed that Ganesh removes obstructions from everyday life, and painting his likeness over doorways is a tradition to bring good luck and fortune.
The royal gardens contained many screens that were woven with a grass called Khas. In the heat of the summer, the screens would be removed and dipped in water and then placed back in their original housings. Wind blowing through would act as a rudimentary air conditioning system, cooling the rooms of the open palace.
The Char Bagh garden from a different vantage point
A tablet in Hindi, I absolutely love the calligraphy of this language
A view to the exterior
The military fort tasked with protecting the King's quarters
The beautiful glass work of Jai Mandir, the private room that the king used to receive his guests. Legend has it that the queen liked to see the stars but did not like to sleep in the open air. This area was constructed so that she could burn candles, which would be reflected by the thousands of tiny mirrors, creating an effect that looked like the night sky.
A view through the archway
What seems to me like the largest wok ever (probably not for said purpose)
The next step was Jal Mahal, a palace located on Man Sagar Lake. The palace is empty, and the only way to get to it is by boat (which I didn't have). I was there during the summer, so the water was really low, but the pictures that others have taken during the rainy season are stunning. It was used as a private palace centuries ago and more recently as a pleasure house.
The City Palace was less than remarkable, it had a few museums for textiles and weaponry, but it did not seem worth the visit. I did manage to find a couple of cool photo spots throughout the complex, but overall, I don't recommend going here if you plan on visiting.
View of the City Palace
Beautiful archway leading into the City Palace
Mahout guarding the gate
Jantar Mantar was my last stop for the day, and the term literally translates to "calculating instrument." The complex contains many devices for measuring the position of major celestial bodies, predicting eclipses and tracking time. The most impressive structure is the largest sundial in the world where the shadow of the sun moves visibly at 1 mm per second. I tried to decipher the placards detailing the complexities of the machines, but in 105 degrees, 2+2 can be a challenging equation.
The world's largest sundial, accurate to within 2 seconds
Another clock in the complex
By the time I got back, she was still hard at work. Seventeen hours after she started working, she finally decided to call it a day. Although I was disappointed that she had missed half of our time in the Pink City, I was determined to do what I could to take care of her in turn. She had dealt with my grumpy mood from the tiger reserve to Jaipur and I wanted to reciprocate. She loves room service, so I told her she could get whatever she wanted the next morning.
What do you get your wife for breakfast when she works all night on vacation? Whatever she wants!
I decided that there was no reason to miss out on the things I had gotten to see the previous day. I plucked out the highlights, and I became her personal tour guide with us returning to visit the Amber Fort and Jal Mahal. She got to see most things that I had seen, and we even got to visit the Prince Albert museum and Hawa Mahal (or "Palace of the Winds") which are things I had missed on my first tour of the city.
Danielle at the Amber Fort
Us at Jal Mahal
Depictions of the king's lineage
I've only been married for 8 months, and I honestly have no clue what I'm doing as a husband. I'm basically making it up as I go along, but this trip taught me that the most important thing is taking care of the other when they are down. As our close (and not-so-close) friends will tell you, both of us are far from perfect. We have had a lot of good times in our 3.5 years together, but I honestly don't cherish those memories as much as the hard times we've overcome. As we ate onion rings together in the morning, we just laughed about random things we had seen on our travels, and that felt like the greatest moment of our visit to Jaipur. The monuments, food, and hotel were all incredible, but the things we remember are not the grandeur of the sites we see but the beautiful simplicity of the interpersonal moments. For those of you who often feel lost as a husband or wife and are not quite sure what to do in moments of hardship, my humble advice to you would be to laugh...and eat plenty of onion rings.