Okay, I know that I have a tendency to be nice on this blog (maybe a little too nice), but I’m going to come out and say this: I didn’t really like Jaipur. I’ve been trying to figure out why, and I came up with a few reasons. The vendors and store owners were a bit more aggressive than I’d been used to in the past places we’d been in India up to that point (The folks in Delhi and Agra are downright passive in comparison). The traffic was even more snarled and crazy and driving even more erratic than I’d remembered in Delhi. I’ve told people that India is “full frontal travel”, but I feel like I felt this way the most in Jaipur.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I really enjoyed walking around Jaipur. There were so many colors, styles, street activity and smells to take in that it could be overwhelming. While Delhi can feel the same way, I thought Jaipur didn’t have the sense of modernity that characterized New Delhi. Imagine a city that has the same vibe as Old Delhi with less cows in the street. Intrigued? Let’s start walking…..
The first thing you should know is that Jaipur is a city within a city. The Pink City is an area separated by beautiful pink (salmon colored maybe?) walls that were built by Jai Singh, yet another Maharajah of Rajasthan (There’s many. Trust me.). He built the Pink City as his main capital center containing the City Palace and a few other prized monuments. Unlike many Northern Indian cities, the Pink City is actually organized on a grid system. I still got pretty turned around there.
One of the more scenic parts of the Pink City is the facade of the Hawa Mahal (the Palace of the Winds).
I’m totally cheating with this pic. I took it from the inside of a car. No walking here.
The Pink City itself is a pretty busy place and sometimes you can forget where it ends and the rest of Jaipur begins. To me, it seemed that this area was one of the prime shopping spots for Jaipur’s residents. There was nothing you couldn’t find within the Pink City walls.
Shops lined the streets in this part of the Pink City
I love passing through food markets, and Jaipur’s were no different. I know that I asked what many of these vegetables are in the pic below, but to be honest, I don’t remember the answers. I love the scarily prickly green cucumber looking veggies at the front left of this picture. Anyone know what they are?
One thing I noticed in India is that many things are still done by hand, and I’m not just talking crafts. This man was his own printing press. I have to admit that I don’t think I’ve really seen one of these old school printing machines up close. He looked like he was printing some kind of community newspaper.
Jaipur was also a great place to see more of India’s street food. I love watching food being made in front of me. This man is making a type of bread called puri. There are so many different types of bread in India. Bless the Indian people for their breads. I owe you guys many Indian food posts.
I’m kicking myself for now not trying the sugar cane drink made from these sugar cane juice extractors.
As you can see on the left, the juice is extracted from the fresh sugar cane stalks. Then the vendor will add mix-ins like lemon, ginger and mint. Sounds great, doesn’t it? I think he was adding ice too, so I and Team Ozzie took a pass.
As the provincial capital of Rajasthan, Jaipur is also supposed to be one of THE places to get handcrafted items. As in most larger Indian cities, we passed by the lanes in the market areas that feature a specific craft. The stone sculptors had many cool pieces ranging from Hindu gods to Elvis (Yes, I saw something with Elvis on it).
The textiles were so beautiful in India, and Jaipur didn’t disappoint. I wanted to buy some, but some of the vendors wouldn’t haggle with me!! It was fine, because I eventually found some I liked in a much smaller town from a much nicer vendor. I love that Indian women are always dressed so beautifully.
While I wasn’t in love with Jaipur, I did appreciate that I got to see so much of urban daily life in India. It’s really just so different from many of the urban areas I’d experienced before. What a difference from Reykjavik, right?