Did you know that Jaipur has been Calgary’s sister city since 1973? That’s the reason for the Jaipur Bridge in Eau Claire. Jaipur’s hospital is also named after Calgary. We’ve been exploring the Pink City for the past couple of days.
Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan and is known as the Pink City because of the coloured sandstone used to construct its buildings. Today modern buildings are made of cement, but they are painted pink to fit in.
The city has a number of things to see, and our first top was Galtaji or the “Monkey Temple.” After Sophie’s scare in Vietnam, she was a little hesitant to vist the more than 2,000 monkeys that make the temple their home. But she warmed up to them and even let one sit on her shoulder. We all look slightly disgusted in the photos because monkeys are not the cleanest!
Today we explored the Amber Fort, which was built in the 16th century and served as the royal palace for the maharaja and his family. The fort has survived invasions and takeovers well, and its architectural features are still quite beautiful.
We saw people riding to the top on elephants, but now that we know what to look for, we noticed one elephant with a lame leg and another that was blind. There are allegations of abuse against the elephant owners, so avoid riding on them. Don’t you want to stretch your legs, anyways?
In the afternoon we visited the City Palace. It’s still a royal residence, although maharajas have no power in today’s India. They are simply very rich people who still own palaces. Probably explains the BMW speeding into the complex dangerously close to tourists!
We’re slowly getting used to India. In China, all they wanted was our picture (and liked to laugh with Al about his height). In Cambodia and rural Vietnam, they just wanted a simple “hello” and perhaps a high five. But in India they want money. Money to sweep the dust in front of you, money to give you directions, money to accompany you around a site even though you never asked for help. It’s hard to judge whether someone is just being nice, or if they expect money for their “helpfulness.” Rather frustrating!
We’ve learned to make hasty exits – don’t dawdle or you will be accosted. We’ve also learned to be firm in saying no, even if it sounds a little mean. And because I’m the mom, I get all the young girls with babies begging for money. Sigh.. you can’t save a nation.