Travelling alone is a bit of a ball ache sometimes in that everything costs a fucking fortune. Yeah okay, I could have made may way around Jaipur on public transport but that takes time and I didn’t really want to spend that long here on account of it being, y’know, a bit uninspiring. Another option is to hire a rickshaw for the day to drive you around the main attractions but unless there are three or four of you, that’s going to be a pricey event. But I was here now and there was no point in being here and not gawping at the things people come here to gawp at. Plus I had this composite ticket and dammit, I was going to use it.
The Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation (RTDC) run full and half day tours around most of the shit in Jaipur worth putting in your eyeholes and they are somewhat inconveniently located on platform 1 of the train station. Though to be fair it’s only inconvenient on account of the security you have to clear security to get onto the fucking platform. But there’s an exit door… There’s a huge sign above it saying “No Entrance…” People who know me personally know that I find it very difficult to disobey signage but other people appeared to be using it without being challenged… I edged towards the door looking utterly suspicious… I stepped over the threshold, waiting for someone to blow a whistle… nothing happened… I was in! I did it! I used an exit door to enter a building! I felt so rebellious, like I was living on the edge, walking on the wild side. Who knows, maybe I’ll get a tattoo or something and… oh wait… never mind.
So, this tour. I was the only non-Indian on it which was fine, I just wanted get this tourist shit done and get out of Jaipur and it didn’t matter that no one had any real interest in holding a conversation with me. Just show me the fort and get me out of here please. The whole thing would be conducted in a canter whose vehicle reversing signal was basically our tiny, moustachioed guide leaning out of the window shouting, “Hello! Hello! Hellooooo! Hello!” And yeah, our guide was a legend! This short fella with an awesome moustache and a straw hat would be showing us around and mostly he would conduct the tour in Hindi then come over to me and translate into broken English, purely for my benefit.
First stop, Jantar Mantar which is a massive observatory where all the instruments are huge, concrete structures. Like the one I’d been to in Delhi but this bad boy is a UNESCO site which clearly makes it vastly superior. This sought after status, however, does not make the information signs any fucking easier to understand. Seriously, guys. I don’t know what you mean by the azimuth of a celestial object or the declination of the sun. I didn’t even know the sun could decline. Do they mean setting? Is that what they’re banging on about? If so, why couldn’t they just say that?! Despite the fact I was still none the wiser when I left it’s still a really interesting place to look at and photograph.
Then it was onto City Palace which I’d already heard was a load of bollocks but it was either pay my ₹400 or wait in the canter. I should have waited in the canter. The only half interesting things are the huge, silver urns called Gangajali which are, apparently, the largest silver objects in the world. These happened when Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh II was invited to the coronation of Edward VII all the way over in England. Clearly he needed him some holy river water to take along. None of that Thames shit for him, thankyouverymuch, so he used these 345kg jars made from 14000 melted silver coins each to transport water from the Ganges all the way to Britain.
Because this is an Indian tour, of course it wouldn’t be complete without a shopping stop. It’s the rules. But because this was an official RTDC tour the shop we stopped at was officially approved by the Rajasthan government. It was quite interesting, they showed me how block printing was done by hand and a saw a guy hand weaving a carpet and I allowed them to lead me from room to room, showing me all of the lovely stuff that had been made in local villages by local families as I politely declined further viewings of pashmina scarves, gemstones, carvings and carpets because, mate, I don’t own any floors to put them on. I retreated outside to get an ice cream, then promptly retreated back inside to escape a creepy old dude who wanted my phone number to meet up later for a drink, and a small child who wanted the usual, less creepy things.
Then it was onto the forts. Come on then, let’s do this shit. We went to Nahargarh Fort (Tiger Fort in English) first where you had the option to buy an overpriced feed, or just wander through the monument. I skipped on the lunch and headed for the fort, waved my composite ticket and in I went.
Good god, this is a boring place. Room after room after identical room. All I knew was that this place was build for nine women that the maharaja of the time kept around for the usual reasons maharajas kept women around. Well, the ones they built palaces for anyway. I slumped onto a bench. That was it. I was done. I was forted out. I couldn’t look at another fucking monument or palace or anything built by another fucking maharaja or Mughal emperor. Rajasthan, mostly you’re awesome, but you really need more in your life than ruined buildings stripped of their former glory. I still had two forts to go; Jaigarh and Amber, Amber being the biggest.
Jaigarh was kinda cool, the guide told me not to use my camera as that costs extra but fuck that shit, I’m the kind of person that uses an exit to enter a building now. And anyway, there were monkeys begging to be filmed and photographed. I could have spent a bit longer there even if it was just to watch the monkeys but I had to go and stare at this fort everyone bangs on about all the time. I can’t even bring myself to write about it here. It’s just more of the same shit. I wandered around and took photos like a good little tourist before heading back to the canter and waiting patiently to be dropped back at the train station.
Jaipur, dude. I probably could have missed that off my list. But then I probably would have been pissed off at myself for leaving it off my list. I want to skip over Jodphur because all they have is, you guessed it, a fucking fort. But I know if I don’t go and gawp at it in blistering heat whilst fending off touts, tour guides and traders I’ll feel like I haven’t completed my Rajasthan collection. And anyway, I should soon have a bunch of that other Rajasthan favourite to break up the fort monotony: CAMELS! And hey, who doesn’t love camels? WHO, I ask you?!
Jaipur, Rajasthan, India
Stayed at: Zostel Jaipur