Jaipur and Tourist Hell

After three weeks of touring Rajasthan we finally get what India has always promised but we have yet to encounter,

Tourist hell.

Jaipur is a huge bustling city, full of a cacophony of earsplitting noise, overpowering smells, markets stretching for miles, aggressive vendors behaving like leeches, and beggars and tiny children following you down the street asking for money. This is the India everyone talks of, and we have been fortunate to have avoided so far

Gone are the narrow winding streets. In their place are wide four lane thoroughfares, absolutely jammed with traffic. There is everything from huge trucks, over crowded buses, cars, tourist cars, tuk tuks, motorbikes and rickshaws. Each and every one of them with a different sounding horn and a driver who will not take his hand off it. It’s hell. The only thing that is missing are the cows. There is not one to be seen, presumably because they were all run over years ago. The traffic barely moves, but Joginder is in his element, pushing his way through everything, one hand on the horn the other on the steering wheel. He goes round roundabouts the wrong way, drives the wrong way up the dual carriageways, forces motorbikes off the road and cars to swerve out of his way. He even takes on the trucks and invariably wins. It is a tour de force, and when he is not hurling abuse at some poor driver who deigns to get in his way , he is smiling from ear to ear.

Our first stop is the famed Amber Fort

IMG_1615

Tourist hell reaches new heights. The place is packed

IMG_1659

The main attraction is riding up the hill and entering the fort on an elephant

IMG_1622

It makes for a stunning sight but neither of us wants to do it. There are 40 elephants going in single file up and down the hill carrying tourists.

IMG_1630

It may be one of the most amazing sights but it is also one of the saddest. A few years ago an elephant got fed up with it and went on a rampage killing four people. And who can blame it. So now the number of trips an elephant can make per day is strictly regulated, but it doesn’t make it any easier to take.

We enter the fort through a stunning archway

IMG_1627

Inside the fort is less ornamented than others we have seen, but it has a graceful arcade

IMG_1633

and a ceiling decorated with mirror mosaic

IMG_1642

And while it may lack the exuberant décor of other forts, it is the setting that makes it, surrounded as it is by dramatic hills with the walls of the fort running round them for 12 kilometres.

IMG_1625

Then there are the gardensIMG_1655

IMG_1631

and the viewsIMG_1649

 Next we visit the Jantar Mantar, an outdoor observatory built in the early seventeen hundreds. It resembles a giant surreal sculpture garden devised by Salvador Dali.

IMG_1688IMG_1676

IMG_1683

It is still used today to forecast how hot the summer months will be and the expected arrival, duration and intensity of the monsoon season

Jat Singh, the astronomer who built the complex, made a sundial that can, and still does, tell the time to within 20 seconds of accuracy

IMG_1690

He also believed that gigantic instruments would give more accurate results than smaller ones and this particular structure is a sundial used to forecast the crop prospects for the year.

IMG_1677

It also tells the time to within two seconds of accuracy. Only going to prove the well known axiom, bigger is always better.

He also built a fascinating sculpture composed of twelve pieces, each of which represents a sign of the zodiac, and therefore faces a different constellation

IMG_1681

It is used by astrologers to draw up horoscopes and is the only one of its kind.

But we need none of these instruments to tell us what the real time is and what our imminent future has in store for us. In about half an hour it will be cocktail time.

We beat a hasty retreat from tourist hell.

But it is only going to get worse.

Tomorrow is Agra and the Taj Mahal

This entry was posted in India and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Jaipur and Tourist Hell

  1. Robert says:

    I remember this fort, loved it too, don’t remember the Elephants. Looking forward to your pic on Diana’s bench at the Taj.

  2. awc49 says:

    Your description of tourist hell,i.e. the cacophony, the smells, the beggars and the driving, took me back to my childhood with a swift, but somewhat unsettling host of memories! Thank you….. I think!

  3. Michael says:

    Yes, I rode up an the Elephant….never again

  4. M. says:

    About the Jantar Mantar — did you check the time-accuracy claims with your watches?

  5. Sally says:

    Ironically though, as visitors we are all tourists contributing to tourist hell….but keeping some of these sites preserved by our numbers. Although I am now plotting to return, 3 days in Jaipur was enough and I needed a break from India. Perhaps short doses is the answer. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s