Thursday, 21 February 2019

The Doors Of Perception



I'm a big fan of the grand entrance and so when we visited Jaipur's City Palace, I was almost lost for words. Could the architectural delights of the Golden Triangle get any better?

The Golden Triangle


We'd arrived in Rajasthan's famed Pink City of Jaipur, so named after Maharajah Ram Singh II  instructed that all the buildings were painted pink to impress Prince Albert during his 1876 tour of India. This colour is so significant to the heritage of the city that it is still enforced under local law.


Maharajah Jaipur Ram Singh II, 1877



Built between 1729 and 1732 by Maharajah Jai Singh II, the City Palace complex also includes the Chandra Mahal and Mubarak Mahal palaces and was the seat of the Maharajah of Jaipur. The Chandra Mahal now houses an museum but the rest is still a royal residence.


While the Triploia Gate is reserved for use by the Royal Family, Rajendra Pol is one of the entry gates to the City Palace that commoners can use (that'll be us, then!)

Rajendra Pol - the commoners gate.
Maharajah Sawai Madho Singh I (1688 – 1743)

Of the various exhibits on display within the museum our favourites were Maharajah Sawai Madho Singh I's clothing. The Maharajah stood at over 7 feet tall, weighed 39 stone and his body measured 3.9ft
across. His wardrobe was both beautiful and extremely opulent, sadly photography wasn't allowed so I'll leave you to imagine the size of his trousers. It didn't seem to put of the ladies, though, he had 108 wives!



Within the inner courtyard, which provides access to the Chandra Mahal, you'll find four small gates (known as the Ridhi Sidhi Pol) adorned with themes representing the four seasons and Hindu gods. The gate Jon's posing by is the Northeast Peacock Gate representing autumn and dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The gate I'm sitting inside (in the top photo) is the Southwest Rose Gate, with its repeated flower pattern representing the winter season, dedicated to Goddess Devi.


What a mirror!


We pose for so many photos for Indians we thought we'd ask some holidaymakers to pose for us. This couple (how beautiful is her dress?) are sitting within the Southeast Lotus Gate with a continual flower and petal pattern representing the summer season and dedicated to Lord Shiva-Parvati.


The Diwan-I-Khas (the Hall of Private Audience) is a marble floored chamber with crystal chandeliers suspended from the ornate rose-coloured ceiling. This is where the Maharajah would receive petitioners.


Like many places of historical interest in India, there's a two-tier admission system in place, implemented by the government to encourage Indians to see more of their country therefore domestic tourists pay significantly less than foreigners. We were more than happy to pay 500 rupees (around £5) although a couple of Americans weren't quite so pleased, yelling I'm not paying 7 bucks just to see a pretty house, before walking off in a huff. Their loss.

Those gateways were priceless.




In India everything stops for chai

At first glance you'd be forgiven for thinking that our next port of call was a mid-century construction but no, it's Jantar Mantar, a collection of nineteen architectural astronomical instruments built by Sawai Madho Singh I and completed in 1734. It features the world's largest stone sundial, and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. At one time, twenty-three astronomers were employed here.



Hard to believe its almost three hundred years old, isn't it?


The sundial is accurate to .244 seconds!











After marveling at the other-worldly architecture of Jantar Mantar, we ascended the steps to reach the top of the Isarlat minaret, which was built in 1749 and originally used as a watchtower over the City Palace. Known locally as Swagasuli (literally translated as passage to heaven), it's 140 feet high and was once the tallest building in Jaipur. It was well worth the climb, the views over the pink city were spectacular.








The previous day we'd checked into Hotel Sweet Dreams, situated within the old city walls overlooking the bazaar, where on check-in we were greeted with marigold garlands, tilak and red roses and after posing for an obligatory selfie with most of the lovely hotel staff, we treated ourselves to lunch.



Sweet Dreams is one of the highest rated hotels in Jaipur and we loved the rooftop restaurant so much that we ate there every night (and had a cheeky beer every afternoon when we got back from our adventures). The weather, although a pleasant 70 degrees in the middle of the day, plummeted to around zero at night but the staff lit braziers, offered us blankets and provided traditional headgear to stave off the chill. 


Jon will kill me when he sees this!

See you soon.

52 comments:

  1. What a feast for the eyes Vix and I love how you tell the history and the stories.
    Hugs-x-

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  2. Jaipur's City Palace is stunning, no wonder you were lost for words. Those gates are breathtakingly beautiful. Love the opening photo of you sitting in the gate. It really is mind boggling that Jantar Mantar is 300 years old. Parts of it look like one of the pavillions at Expo 58 ... I'm amazed that Jon made it to the top of Isarlat with his vertigo. He doesn't look all that comfortable, though. My legs are turning to jelly at the thought! Sweet Dreams looks and sounds fantastic, and how sweet as that photo of you two wearing those colourful turbans! xxx

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    1. Jaipur was just incredible - the contrast between the ornate City Palace and the minimalism of the Jantar Mahal took our breath away!
      Jon was very brave to get to the top of Islarat, he got very nervous when i insisted on leaning out of the window to take a photo though! xxx

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  3. Wow - always wanted to go there - it's on my list. Fab post x

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    1. You have to go to Jaipur, I promise you won't be disappointed! xxx

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  4. I am boggled by Jantar Mantar - what an amazing place! That architecture and sundial! It's incredible, and I know I keep saying this, but thank you for these wonderful posts, Vix. I love seeing this part of the world through your eyes. I will likely never go to India, so this is the next best thing.

    I laughed at the US tourists refusing to pay such a paltry amount. We have an attraction here, just outside of Victoria, called the Butchart Gardens, which...they are gardens (very nice gardens, I'll admit). Admission in peak season is $33.00 for adults! That's about $40 US. I love the idea of stepped admissions to encourage locals to visit attractions. I wish they would do that here!

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    1. I'm thrilled that you're enjoying the posts, Sheila. So many people have preconceptions of what India is like (filthy, arid and poverty-ridden), I love sharing how beautiful and endlessly fascinating it can be!
      Jantar Mahal was like something straight from the set of a 1960s Sci-Fi movie, Jon never wanted to leave.
      Goodness me, Butchart gardens must be something special at those admission prices! I love the idea of the phased admission prices, too - so few of us travel in our own countries! xxx

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  5. That's some sundial! I obviously can't speak for all Americans, but that hardly seems like much of a fee to complain about.

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    1. Isn't it amazing?
      To be fair it's usually the Brits I overhear complaining about admission fees - when you'd paid £££ to fly halfway around the world what's a few more quid? xxx

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  6. It feels like I'm seeing a very different side to India when compared to some of your previous trips. That peacock door...be still my beating heart. How amazing!
    Arilx

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    1. Every state is so different - the language, the food, the geography and the architecture - after 20 years (and around 35 visits) I sill can't get enough of India!
      Isn't that peacock gate something else? xxx

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  7. I would love being there! As I mentioned above, I would pay $7 easily! That's pretty easy on the purse strings, especially after having to fly there. Thanks for sharing this!

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    1. Exactly! What's $7 when you've paid $1000 to fly there? Madness! Mind you,I did overhear a French chap saying that he went to Agra but didn't want to pay the £10 admission fee so looked at it through the window of a nearby restaurant instead! I'm all for saving money but to deny yourself the chance to see one of the world's greatest buildings for the sake of £10?! xxx

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  8. That's 7$ I would have gladly paid!! My fellow Americans can sometimes make me shake my head.
    I love all the beautiful colors in all the pictures.

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    1. Holli, the Brits can be just as penny pinching, it drives me mad!
      Aren't the colours of India a delight? England seems so drab in comparison. xxx

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  9. Yet Americans would easily shell out $7 for a freaking coffee. Any American attraction is far more. I think it is great when countries give discounted rates to locals, as they should. Love that peacock gate, so beautiful.

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    1. Too right! There's budget travel and there's being pathetically mean. I'm all for saving money by staying in a cheap hotel, eating local and using public transport but denying yourself sights like the City Palace for the sake of a few $? Ludicrous! xxx

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  10. Wow, everything looks so grand, colourful and gorgeous! Love the snake/dragon mirror! X

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    1. Isn't it splendid? I wouldn't have minded bringing that mirror home with me! xxx

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  11. After all the ornate features of the other buildings, Jantar Mantar seems to be so modern and streamline. You’d never believe it has so much age to it.
    How on earth did the hip stand up to all those steps. Don’t think my back would haha xxx

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    1. Such a contrast between those two places, isn't there? Hard to think that they were designed by the same chap!!
      My hip was fine until I got to Goa, bloody thing! xxx

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  12. The Spanish often give discounted or even free entry to locals. Those poor yanks will die of fright if they go to National Trust properties!

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    1. The Spanish have got the right idea - I think it's a wonderful thing to encourage people to enjoy the heritage of their own countries!
      I know £12 to see a pretty houses, can you imagine? xxx

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  13. :-DDD
    hope you´r still alive ;-D
    jaipur was our 3.destination too.... and it was gorgeous. i vividly remember the impression that this glorious palace made and that stunning astronomical buildings! i was clever and hired that nice motor riksha driver, who drove us from the bus station to the hotel, for the next 3 days. he had worked once in germany and did understand a bit german, but i tried my best with english anyway ;-D he was the perfect guide! he even brougth us to the elephants home where i could pet & hug one of the gentle gray giants!!!! (on x-mas eve - no less)
    xxxxx

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    1. He hasn't seen it yet - I think I might have got away with it!!
      We loved Jaipur and ended up staying longer than we'd originally planned and I want to back.
      You were clever to get yourself a driver for the whole stay especially finding one that spoke a bit of German - what are the chances?! What a Xmas present hugging the elephants must have been! xxx

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  14. wowww, totally love that peacocks door and the pink palaces, so fabulous monuments to visit! I would pay those 5 quids with a smile on my face! (don't understand this grumpy attitude!). The astronomical buildings are Amazing!, their design looks modern and totally cool!
    Lovely to see you enjoying the places, the food and the colorful hats! ;)
    besos

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    1. Those doors were worth the quids alone! I could have drooled over them forever!!
      I don't get that attitude either - why travel all that way and deny yourself all that beauty - crazy tourists! xxx

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  15. Love the last pick, jon in handwarmers!

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    1. He scoffed when I packed those cashmere wrist warmers - he soon changed his mind! xxx

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  16. I am learning so much from your travelogue!

    The buildings are so magnificent and as for the scientific ones I would have thought they were constructed in 1970s. Amazing.

    Love your brown block printed dress and tell John he looks very cute in his traditional headgear!

    Have a lovely weekend,
    xxxx

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    1. Isn't the contrast between the City Palace & Jantar Mahal incredible? What a visionary Maharajah Sawai Madho Singh I was! I wish i could have shared a photo of his enormous trousers, though!
      I think a turban suits Jon, maybe he was a Maharajah in a past life? xxx

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  17. It's all fantastic and you two are gorgeous---I'm in love with everything <3

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  18. Such beautiful photos once again vix , The palace is stunning xx

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    1. Thanks, Eileen! That palace was breathtaking - lucky Royal Family still living there. xxx

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  19. The colours integrated into the architecture are amazing and then, Jantar Mantar, so different. I can see why you described it as almost mid century looking and yet so old. Its fascinating!
    I love all the foodie bits too and it looks yummy.
    Have a good weekend Vix. xxx

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    1. It's incredible to think that those doorways have been exposed to the elements for over three centuries and yet still look so fresh, isn't it?
      We loved the contrast between the two places - that's India all over, a land of huge differences. A friend once said that India was a country that slapped you round the face and them took you out for dinner afterwards - you never know what to expect! xxx

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  20. I don't understand those American tourists, they think seven bucks is too much? I would be happy to pay 70 dollars to see this in person. I was happy to pay to see sights in my own country, where I pay taxes and I never complained because I know that 'pretty' places need 'pretty sums' to be maintained. The only thing that slightly annoys me is when they ask me money to see a simple waterfall or something of the sort.

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    1. There's no hope for people, is there? I was amazed at how few foreign tourists there were and when we did see them they'd be in restaurants glued to their phones. xxx

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  21. Jaipur is simply stunning. The architecture is just magical , the doorways in particular.You could only enjoy a hotel named Hotel Sweet Dreams and the food looks so good. So enjoying your travels.

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    1. I didn't think Jaipur would be so gorgeous, I was amazed at absolutely everything we saw. xxx

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  22. I feel like if I ever go to India, I need to go to the Golden Triangle! I cannot believe how amazing the architecture is.It is truly astonishing!!! Thank you so much for sharing it.
    7ft?!?!??!?!?!x

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    1. You do - it's absolutely breathtaking and so easy to get around! xxx

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  23. I got a bit excited about Jantar Mantar, what an astounding construction!! I am fascinated by early astronomy, this has shot to the top of my list of places to go in India when I get around to visiting. Mind blowing. Xx

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    1. I'd never seen photos of Jantar Mantar before and was absolutely transfixed by its otherworldly beauty. It's unbelievable how that sundial is so accurate! xxx

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  24. Oh that looks amazing! I'm sure when I worked on a photography mag I saw a pro photo taken of a lady walking up the steps at that sundial - it's such a distinctive structure it really stuck in my mind, even though the photographer never mentioned the location.

    Jaipur is deffo going on my list of places to visit. It's astonishing those other tourists wouldn't pay that much to see such an amazing building - all those sights for the price of a few forgettable chainstore coffees? Why did they go all the way to Jaipur if they didn't want to see it? IDIOTS.

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    1. That sundial was such a striking piece of architecture, I'm surprised there haven't been fashion shoots featuring it, I couldn't tear Jon away from it.
      You would absolutely love Jaipur, so many incredible things to see and really easy to get around. Aren't some people ridiculous? I actually overheard a conversation where a French bloke had gone to Agra but didn't want to pay £10 to see the Taj Mahal so looked at it from a rooftop restaurant instead! I bet he spent more on booze! xxx

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  25. That sundial is amazing - the architecture looks like it's from the future instead of the past. I can't believe those other tourists were complaining about the admission fees. Sounds like they wouldn't recognize beauty if it slapped them in the face. I've so enjoyed your photos from this trip.

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    1. That's the bucket list traveller for you, all about ticking things off rather than immersing themselves in the wonderful places on offer! xxx

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  26. I can't believe that Jantar Mantar is 300 years old. It looks so pristine. I need to visit the Golden Triangle... one day!
    xx

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    1. I can understand why The Golden triangle is so enduringly popular, there's so much beauty and history to discover. xxx

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Lots of love, Vix