Jaipur, India

January 3, 2003
Odometer reading: 946 km
Weather: high of about 75ºF and clear

Our first stop on our whirlwind tour of Rajasthan is Jaipur. It is about 250 km from Delhi, but the ride takes extra long in the cold fog that doesn't clear up until about 2pm. We stay at Mandawa Haveli (a heritage hotel) for two days and then move to a budget hotel when we can't extend our stay. Most hotels we've seen have been suffering a significant downturn in tourists, but Mandawa is booked solid. The budget hotel, Arya Niwas, turns out to be lovely. It gives us great hope for all the other budget hotels in our Lonely Planet guidebook.

On our first day, we do a walking tour of the old city which is lovely. But the pestering touts make the experience pretty harrowing.
The inside of museums are a quiet sanctuary by comparison. This is the palace museum in Jaipur. The maharaja's family still live in a section of the palace.
This massive silver urn is almost as tall as I am. It was used to carry Ganges water for the Maharaja on his trip to London. Love that reflection.
This is one of five observatories that Raja Sawai Jai Singh II built around 1827. He was inspired by the Turkish royal astronomer, Ulugh Beg who built an observatory in Samarkand in the 15th century.
Most of the instruments look like giant sundials. This is a cluster of 12 small instruments, one for each zodiac sign.
The largest instrument is this 89 foot high sundial, the Samrat Yantra. The shadow on the curved structure to the right indicates the time, accurate to about 2 seconds.
At one point, we stop at a lassi walla for a cool refreshing yoghurt drink. It is amazing. The lassis are served in those stacked brown glasses, which are disposable terra cotta. The lassi comes with a slab of cream on top. If it were hotter out, the lassi might have ice in it, but not on cold days like this. He mixes the yoghurt in a bowl with a mixer that looks like a re-purposed drill press.
Here, Julie is 235 kms from Agra and 2 kms from Jaipur city centre on National Highway number 11. These signs are the landmarks that I navigate by on the highway.

How to contact us: