Heart of India

Day 06 - Wednesday, November 2, 2016 - Palace of the Winds; Astronomical Observatory; City Palace; Home-Hosted Dinner

We were able to sleep in until 7:00 this morning as our optional hot air balloon ride could not be offered because of the smoke and fog in the air. Sujay told us that we would try again for tomorrow or even perhaps when we return from the Pushkar Camel Fair.

Visibility was very poor again this morning. The temperature was 76 degrees and the humidity was 55%.

After our breakfast we met our group at the lobby at 9:00. Sujay gave us the morning briefing and let us know about the schedule of activities for the day. A. J. was with us again and began with more detailed history of the Pink City of Jaipur.

Discussing the Hindu caste system. There were four distinct castes:

1. Brahman – priests and teachers

2. Kshatriya – warriors and rulers

3. Vaishya – farmers, traders and merchants

4. Shudra – laborers and Dalit (also known as 'Untouchables') – street sweepers, cleaners

Officially prohibited in 1920 by Mahatma Gandhi, people still talk about the caste they were born into and their formal names reflect the cast.

Hindus base their lives on Karma with the slogan being “Living our past, creating our future”. Good works include feeding the poor, the birds, and the holy cows that roam on some areas of cities and many rural areas.

Although Jaipur is known as the pink city, the color is really a terra cotta. Our first photo stop was at the Hawa Mahal or Palace of the Winds. Built in 1799, it was not a palace at all, but a façade of over 900 carved sandstone windows.

The women of the royals were not to be seen in public but they were allowed to look out these windows to watch parades and other festivities without being seen. Access to the upper levels was a spiral staircase. As we were taking photos we could see others who had climbed the stairs to view the street below.

Our next stop was the Palace Grounds where we visited the Jantar Mantar, an incredible collection of nineteen architectural astronomical instruments. Built in 1734 CE by the Rajput King Sawai Jai Singh, we saw sundials accurate to within 2 seconds.

Hindu culture is highly reliant on astrology and the signs of the zodiac are used for planning important events and especially vital to choosing a marriage partner with complimentary virtues to live a life of harmony.

Our next stop was after a brief walk to the City Palace of Jaipur. Built by the same Maharaja that moved the Amber Palace we visited yesterday, it was completed in 1732. The present heir is H H Maharaja Sawai Padmanabh Singh the newest crowned Maharaja of Jaipur, an 18 year old who has no power but ceremonial.

We visited three of the galleries of the palace museum. We explored the Textiles, Armory & Weapons, and the Sabha Niwas or Great Hall; a throne room and court. Photos were not permitted and the guards were very strict about checking cameras for those who might have snapped a quick shot.

We had lunch at the City Palace Café, a modern contrast to the palace. We had a light soup, sandwiches, and dessert that were a pleasant contrast to the Indian cuisine we have enjoyed so far.

We left the Palace and walked back to the bus with scores of vendors following us. Sujay held another Bus Bazaar and many people bought scarves, bags, umbrellas, and other souvenirs. Although tempted, Gennie was reluctant to buy too many things as we have another domestic flight with weight restrictions. Perhaps another day…

While most of the group went on to an optional jewelry shopping spree, several of us opted to go back to the hotel at 3:00. We began writing the journal and sorting photos of our day.

At 6:00 we met in the lobby for a Home Hosted dinner with an Indian family. We were divided into 3 groups. Madhavi and Jai Deep along with their two daughters were our hosts. We enjoyed a social and certainly learning experience getting to know more about the personal lives and the relationships of their family.

When we returned it was 9:30. We finished and posted the journal and went to bed. It was another full day of the sights, sounds, and smells of India.

Although Jaipur is less crowded than Delhi, we continue to be overwhelmed with the number of people on the streets and in the museums. Did you know that India has a greater population than the entire Western Hemisphere of Earth?

Facts About India

Accommodations: Radisson Blu Jaipur Hotel - - - Meal: B, L, & D

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Quite a history lesson! Love your easy commentary about a complicated subject. A very user-friendly posting...thanks!

Kathy   November 4, 2016 - 3:34am

We did this trip several years ago and are enjoying your posts. Thanks for sharing.

Annmarie Gavin   November 2, 2016 - 7:11pm

So, have enjoyed your trip. Do they speak English? Like the host families?

Norma   November 2, 2016 - 6:18pm

I think I would have loved the home hosted dinner!

Susan P.   November 2, 2016 - 5:55pm
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Palace of the Winds

Palace of the Winds

Streets of Jaipur

Streets of Jaipur

Jantar Mantar Observatory

Jantar Mantar Observatory

City Palace of Jaipur

City Palace of Jaipur

Prince Albert Hall and Pigeons

Prince Albert Hall and Pigeons

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