We left for Jaipur at 5 am from “Clean Station Jodhpur”. Even at that hour, the station was full of travellers camped out on the platforms. There were families with kids, saffron robed Hindu pilgrims and gurus, black clad moslem women, turbaned Sikh’s and all sort of people in dress that identified them in ways we did not know. The atmosphere was festive and less stressed than a Canadian airport. However, the first class train ride was unremarkable, it felt like a Via train that served curried snacks.
With a population of over 3,000,000, Jaipur (dʒaɪpʊə) is the largest city in Rajastan. We stayed at Atithi Guest House near the station. Our tour stated with the Amer Fort an impressive structure on top of a hill overlooking a monsoon fed artificial lake. We climbed the ramp to the entrance passing elephant riding tourists and hawkers trying to sell tickets to tourist on a free entrance day. The fort was impressive with its many halls including the sheesh Mahal a room covered in tiny mirrors meant to amplify candle light.
After the fort we entered the walled centre through one of the gates. Motorscooters pedestrians and elephants competed for the road while feral monkeys jumped across roof tops. We had sweets at a vegetarian shop where the owner sat on the counter next to the cash cross legged like a Pasha. That evening, we saw a Bollywood premier. The women were all dressed up in their best Sarees. However, the movie was a bit of a dud. Afterward we ate tandoori at a busy grill that set up tables in a car repair shop. Eliot was dubious at first but the food was excellent. Walking back to the hotel we saw a lot of men sleeping on the sidewalks. Suraj explained that these were farmers who come to the city for work in the dry season before the monsoons.
The next day we headed for the train station for our 2nd class ride to Agra a true India experience.