Friday, November 23

Welcome to Rajasthan

Entering Rajasthan is like entering a different country. The people seem fierce and have a proud history. The landscape is mostly desert with imposing forts on every hill and palaces around every lake.

Like most who come to Rajasthan, my first stop was Jaipur. It's a busy city with a lot to see! I woke up early, met up Bhuwan and set out to see the Amber palace, just a few minutes outside of Jaipur. It's a beautiful palace overlooking a lake, built for concubines. Part of the taxi tour package included an elephant ride through the palace gate but a long line up of tourists suggested a two hour wait and I opted to go through the back entrance. Even in its run-down state it's impressive and one can't help wonder how it would have looked during its golden age.

Walking through the palace I met Pedro, a fellow from Portugal, running around and taking photos with the same enthusiasm and camera model as me and Tim and Christine, a couple from Australia who were eager to talk about Nikola Tesla. We were trying to figure out the easiest way to get up to the fort overlooking the palace and Tim and Pedro figured out a way through a palace window followed by a climb down one of the palace walls. It was like being in the game "Prince of Persia" and it made for a fun adventure -- making up for lackluster fort.

I returned to the city where I checked out various other sights such as the Hawa Mahal, the Jaipur City Palace and the Jantar Mantar. My driver also took me to the nearby Galtaji temple though instead of going to it I decided to hike up the hill to an abandoned and secluded fort. I had it all to myself and was also rewarded to a great view of the entire city.

While checking out these sights I ran Nick and Maggie (who I met in Delhi) and we talked about meeting up later for chess -- I don't think Maggie was too keen on that idea. I also met up with Manu (from Agra) and walked around searching for an internet cafe. We didn't find one but we did end up having a great dinner at a nearby restaurant.

Couldn't ask for a better day!

The walls of Amber fort:

Amber palace:

Amber from the walls of the palace:

Camel riders inside the fort:

This is who the fort belongs to now:

Cow road block while hiking to abandoned fort:

The city of Jaipur as seen from abandoned fort:

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