Day 12 – November 5: Pushkar to Jaipur
Before leaving the Pushkar Palace Hotel, I got a few shots in and around the hotel.
The bus couldn’t come down the street to the hotel, so we had about a 10-15 minute walk to meet it, while our bags were transferred via truck. Once on the road, the photography continued from the bus … the usual stuff: big loads, people begging when stopped in the traffic, unceasing horn honking, colour, etc.
My computer charger cord was about to give up the ghost, although it was temporarily held together with athletic tape, thanks to Kathy. In the meantime, I kept an eye out for an Apple store, which I got a shot of, as we drove through Jaipur.
The next 2 days in Jaipur will be full … there’s lots to explore.
Day 13 – November 6: Jaipur
The day started with a trip to the Amer Fort, which originated in 967. We met our guide, who had organized 5 jeeps to take us through the streets of Amer and up the hill to the fort.
After 1.5 hours or so at the fort, we loaded back into the bus for the drive back to Jaipur. On the way, we made a quick stop to take photos of the Jal Mahal, or Lake Palace, which stands in the Man Sagar Lake.
Our local tour company contact had made a reservation for us at the Heritage Spices restaurant. An excellent lunch!!
Jaipur is a walled city. The Jaipur City Wall was built in 1727 and has 7 gate entrances. We were dropped off at the Ajmeri Gate, which was close to the jewellery and metals market. From there we made our way through the old market and would meet the bus at the City Palace gate in a couple of hours.
This is wedding season in Jaipur and, apparently, everyone came into town today. The market was absolutely jammed and we all went off in different directions to browse through the stores, get street shots or just explore. Jill, Dass and I wandered through some back streets on our way to the main market street, which was teaming with pedestrian and vehicle traffic. Dass maneuvered his scooter down the street, but he eventually opted to take the sidewalk. At one point, we got onto a narrow sidewalk that was an absolute crush of people. One woman moved Jill out of the way and took over pushing Dass through the crowd, shoving people aside as she went. Talking later, Dass didn’t even realize this woman had taken over.
It was a great relief to get out of there and make our way across a large intersection, with me stopping traffic as we went. As Dass said, who wouldn’t stop for a big Viking! We made our way to the City Palace gate, where I located the bus and waited for the others to show up.
Walking Through the Streets of Jaipur
Everyone made it back on time and away we went, back to the hotel for the evening.
A few of us met in the bar, the ‘Il Vino’, before dinner. Avi and I tried to order a bottle of red wine, but guess what…no red wine and not much of a white selection!! Get the irony here? Il Vino, no wine! I was tempted to order the Dom Perignon on the wine list! We settled for a Jacob’s Creek Chardonnay at 3,000 rupees, about $60 Cdn. First they brought us cocktail glasses and when we asked for wine glasses, they brought us stemmed water glasses. OK, no problem.
As if the price wasn’t high enough, the bill ended up being 4,200 rupees / $84 Cdn.!! WTF???!!! I found out later, when I complained at the front desk, that there are 2 taxes on booze: 20% state tax and 20% VAT. Unbelievable! Oh well…India!
Day 14 – November 7: Jaipur
It’s ‘Monkey Temple’ Day!
This morning we drove to the ‘Galtaji Temple’, about an hour from Jaipur. It consists of a series of temples built into a narrow crevice in a hill. A natural spring high in the hill flows down and fills a series of 7 sacred water tanks, 2 of which thousands of Hindu pilgrims come to bathe in.
Besides the sacred pools, visitors come to see and feed the thousands of macaque monkeys that live in the mostly abandoned temples. The monkeys are very entertaining as they run around, argue, inspect each other’s bodies for bugs, eat the bananas, nuts, etc. that people throw out for them. They basically leave you alone, but one stole the peacock feather from Ron’s hat and another hoped onto Jill’s shoulder to take one of the bananas from a bunch that a woman had given her.
From there we went back to Jaipur for another excellent lunch at Heritage Spices. After, we parked in the City Palace parking lot and spent a couple of hours wandering around the market again. For whatever reason, the market wasn’t nearly as busy as it was yesterday, which made the photography and the shopping much easier.
Happy hour at Il Vino – didn’t bother with the wine again, just beer – dinner and packing for tomorrow’s return to Delhi finished out the day.
Day 15 & 16 – November 8 & 9: Jaipur to Delhi to Toronto
The last day! Today involved a 5 hour bus ride back to Delhi, relaxing in a day room at the Novotel near the airport, a buffet dinner and killing a few hours at the airport before our 12:45 AM flight, which actually ended up being closer to 2:00 AM.
On the Road
We said goodbye to our bus driver, Gurmeet, and his trusty assistant/traffic navigator, Vimal. Even though the communication was a bit challenging, they took good care of us, despite the unbelievable traffic ballet and one very tense ride.
This was such a good trip. We couldn’t have asked for a more compatible group to share the ‘Incredible India’ experience. With help from James Cowie, of Photo Tour Trekkers, and his India contacts, Dass and I were able to offer an outstanding opportunity for our 10 guests to fill not only their cameras, but also their minds and hearts with so many not-to-be-forgotten memories. We saw it all: the good, the bad and the ugly. It is such a tremendously fascinating country, teeming with contrasts. In the end, everyone agreed that the highlight of the trip was the people, regardless of their role in Indian society … friendly, kind, helpful. Their smiling faces and smiling eyes are infectious. I’ve often said that, in India, there’s no facade; what you see is more or less what you get and the photographs don’t capture the emotions that run rampant as you’re experiencing India.
I think everyone would also agree that the most challenging part of this trip was the oppressive smog, particularly in Delhi. That’s precisely why Dass and I had limited our time there to 2 overnights, with only a few hours in the old market. The sheer number of vehicles on the streets, many of which can’t possibly meet any sort of emission standards, aren’t the sole contributor to the air pollution reaching health crisis levels. The fires from the farmers burning off their fields and, would you believe, the amount of fireworks set off during the Diwali festival contribute to that greatly. You may remember seeing reports on CTV News, etc. at the time so I won’t rant about it here; however, I tried to capture the haze in a few shots, while traveling from Jaipur to Delhi. Although they’re not particularly uplifting, it is one of the realities of India.
For many years, India was high on my bucket list. Now I’ve been there 3 times and this was Dass’ 4th trip. Every trip there has impacted both of our lives and we’ll talk about it often. Will we go back? At this point, not likely, but ask us again in 6 months. Maybe it would be a shame not to discover more of ‘Incredible India’ and its people.
Thank you very much for reading through this blog and checking our the photographs (with apologies for being so far behind). I really enjoyed sharing the adventure with you (and it forced me to get my photos processed). Your interest in the trip is very much appreciated.
If you haven’t already, check on the blog for my next adventure, which checks another one off my bucket list: the Antarctic, in February. I have now been to all 7 continents. Woohoo!!