We spent a day exploring the so-called “Pink City of Jaipur” (we felt it was more of a red sandstone city, but either way the colour was definitely noticeable!) We began our walk at the New Gate (pictured above), where we walked through the bazaars until we found ourselves at Hawa Mahal, the Palace of the Winds. This palace is famous for its front side, which we actually didn’t find until after we had explored inside it! We liked the different stained glass windows and exploring the different levels here.
Our next stop was Janta Mantir, where ancient astronomical instruments are stored. These huge structures all had English explanations but they were pretty technical – definitely a place for people with more scientific minds than us!
Our last stop was the City Palace, where we saw the largest silver vessels in the world, the impressive throne room and an outfit belonging to the rather large ruler Sawai Madho Singh – Lonely Planet claims he was 2m tall, 1.2 m wide and weighing 250kg and the clothing certainly seemed to indicate that this wasn’t far from accurate.
We liked Jaipur, although it was probably our least favourite of our three Rajasthan stops (Jaipur, Udaipur and Jaisalmer). One thing I didn’t appreciate was the techniques for hassling tourists that we hadn’t encountered before:
Stranger: I like your t shirt. Where is it from?
Stranger: How much did you pay?
Me: We don’t know, it was a gift. (Reubs has already started ignoring this obvious attempt to get us to go to his shop).
Stranger: But how much was it?
Me: We don’t know, it was a gift.
Stranger: But how much was it to buy?
Me: 200 baht. (Just wanting to get away at this point).
Stranger: But how much is that in rupees?
Me: I don’t know.
Stranger: But I don’t know baht.
Me: Well, that’s not my problem. (I walk away).
Reubs: Why did you even keep talking to him?!
Another stranger: Can I ask you a question?
A.S: Why don’t foreigners like talking to Indians?
Me: I don’t know. Probably because they think they are trying to sell them something.
A.S: But don’t they want to make friends with Indians?
Reubs: I already have Indian friends and I didn’t meet them from talking to strangers on the street. Goodbye!
I googled this approach later and found it’s apparently a common scam technique in Jaipur which eventually leads to some kind of gem scam. It’s a tough one, we don’t want to be unfriendly but we really aren’t interested in engaging with random people on the street – just like in Egypt, if it would seem a bit odd to engage with a stranger on the street in your home country and answer their random questions, why would you think it would be normal in another country?