Thursday, February 9, 2012
Jaipur, Part II
Yesterday we rode the elephants up to the amber fort which was the palace for the Maharajah. The "fort" was on top of a hill and quite large. The architectural detail was impressive, especially for how old it was. The summer area of the palace was set up with gardens and light walls to deal with the heat. The air ventilation system was quite impressive. The split in the latice details of the windows slanted up and out to slow for the release of the rising hot air. We should take some cues from that.
The fort also utilized mirrors in its room designs so they could utilized natural moonlight to illuminate the semi-outdoor rooms in the garden area. It was a way to reduce or roommate the need for candles used in the evenings. Not sure if that was for conservation issues or to prevent fires, or what.
Once we finished we were bombarded once again by the throngs of hawkers. It was a feeding frenzy. I have never been overwhelmed by so many people selling the same chintzy goods. No, was not a word they understood. Piyush eventually got fed up and had us get on bus and bargained for us for each item to be 100 rupees. Made life a bit easier, but wish I had waited to get some of the stuff. I got good deals, but some, not that good.
Afterwards we stopped at Bhandari jewellers. Jaipur is supposedly known for its jewelry, especially its gemstones. There thy showed us how they cut and polish different gemstones. Of course, they then invite you to shop at their store after the "demonstration." The jewelry wasn't really my style but I did see a long silver strand with individual cuts of citrine topaz that I could wrap around several times. It was nice and I was thinking if buying it until he said it was $1000. No friggin way was I spending that much on a piece of jewellery. Maybe $100 for it, but not that high. I didn't love it that much to even consider negotiating a smaller number.
After an included lunch at, of all places, Holiday Inn, we went to the Old City of Jaipur to see the city palace and Jantar Mantar. Jaipur is known as the pink city bc all the buildings in the old city are a pink or salmon color. However, the buildings that are part of the Maharajah's palace are yellow. Similar to the Chinese total buildings.
Our first stop in the old city was Jantar Mantar, an observatory complex built by the Maharajah in 1728. The complex is a series of structures that are used to calculate the local solar time, sun signs, lunar signs and other astrological data. India is one time zone, and the time is calculated based on the longitude at Alabad (sp?), the central most point in India. The Maharajah calculated, based on these instruments, that local (or solar) time in Jaipur is 41 minutes ahead of Alabad. So, if you add 41 minutes to the official time it is in India, you get the local time in Jaipur. Wild! In addition to the instruments built to determine the sun and star signs for the.days.and seasons, Jantar Mantar has the worlds largest sun dial, which is accurate to within 2 seconds. Again, pretty impresive considering it was built in the 18th century. Looking at the.side of the sun dial's main structure remimded me of a de chirico painting with its different intersecting lines. The zodiac and rising sun sign prediction instruments switch every 2 hours. The Maharajah cut the instrument in two pieces so that you read one piece for 2 hours and switch to the other piece for 2 hours, etc. This was done so the astronomers could get in and get more detailed with calculations. Once you have calcculated the sun sign, you move to the individual star sign instruments to get the rising sign. It really is neat. There was also an instrument to calculate the altitude of the sun. Right now the altitude or incline of the sun is at 40 degrees. It is amazing how you can use mathematics to figure this all out.
After leaving Jantar Mantar, we walked across the street and into the City Palace, a museum and the residence of the current Maharajah. We visited the palace, saw some of the beautiful textles worn by the court, and the architectural details of the palace.
After a long day, we went ham to the hotel to regroup before our evening activities. Our hotel overlooked the Palace on the.Lake so I went out and got some great late afternooon photos of the palace and the dam, which was originally built in 1799.
Before dinner we had time to walk thru one of the bazaars in town. I had an agenda but didn't really find what I was looking for. Instead, I found some bangles for myself and the girls for dress up. I was hoping to find some clothes for the.girls.but o.wasn't thrilled with what I saw.
Our dinner was really special. A local family hosted all of us for dinner in their home. They are an extended family that has lived in its ancestral home since the mid 18th century. The house was given to the family in 1766. Two of the daughter-in-laws hosted us and gave us a tour of the home. They were both in their mid-thirties and each had 1 kid, ages 6 and 7. They, along with the other women in the family, cooked a wonderful dinner for us. They sat and asked us questions and answered any questions we had. The one DIL worked at an international school but is currently on sabbatical earning another degree and getting ready to move to Mumbai where her husband has a new job.