INDIA 2009


Photos © Ruud Leeuw

In January we travelled through parts of India, our very first visit to India. At the airport of New Delhi we were met by a chauffeur and he drove us through Rajasthan. The first stop was Jaipur.

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I donīt remember any suburbs, all of a sudden we were in the town of Jaipur, on a large avenue. The car came almost to a halt, because of the amount of people and animals in the streets. Since this was our first visit to India, we were quite perplexed by the crowds. Among the thousands of people we saw only one westerner... We vowed not to walk these streets, but from the safety of our car we ogled the many people in ceaseless amazement.


Not for the last time I marvelled at the bright coloured dresses the women wore..
In the background one can see the Hawa Mahal, which translates to 'Palace of Wind's, a remarkable sandstone building.
It was built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh, and designed by Lal Chand Usta in the form of the crown of Krishna, the Hindu god. It forms part of the City Palace and extends the Zenana or women's chambers, the chambers of the harem. Its original intention was to allow royal ladies to observe everyday life in the street below without being seen... [Wikipedia]


The variety of transport, for people or goods, is endless.


two examples of...

... transportation


Hinduism accounts for 80% of the population of India, the second largest religion is Islam, at about thirteen percent of the population.
Other native Indian religions are Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism. Ancient India had two philosophical streams of thought, the Shramana religions and the Vedic religion, parallel traditions that have existed side by side for thousands of years. Both Buddhism and Jainism are continuations of Shramana traditions, while modern Hinduism is a continuation of the Vedic tradition. These co-existing traditions have been mutually influential.
About two percent of Indians adhere to Christianity. Zoroastrianism and Judaism have an ancient history in India and each has several thousand Indian adherents.
Though inter-religious marriage is not widely practiced, Indians are generally tolerant of other religions and retain a secular outlook. Inter-community clashes have never found widespread support in the social mainstream, and it is generally perceived that the causes of religious conflicts are political rather than ideological in nature. [Wikipedia]

Just a streetscene, this never lost its appeal to me.

Trade in the streets was going on continuously. Also note the rubbish; we saw people dropping wrappers and other thrash on the ground where they stood. The sense for a clean environment has not yet developed here.

Another streetscene.
"Prepaid auto" in India means 'Prepaid auto rickshaw' - they exist so you don't get ripped off by a rickshaw wallah.

Hard work
Hard work..

Child beggar
Difficult to endure, children begging. We were told and adhered to this advise, not to give children any money or items they could sell, because it would promote begging. But it is hard to ignore.

The colours are mesmerizing

You have to look up, over the crowds, to see anything of the buildings. As one can see, in this respect there is much to enjoy too.

Jaipur, popularly known as the Pink City, is the capital of Rajasthan.
Historically rendered as Jeypore, Jaipur is the former capital of the princely state of Jaipur. Founded in 1727 by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, the ruler of Amber, the city today has a population of more than 5 million residents.
His Highness Sawai Bhawani Singh Bahadur (born 1931) is the current titular Maharaja of Jaipur.
The city is remarkable among pre-modern Indian cities for the width and regularity of its streets which are laid out into 6 sectors separated by broad streets 111 ft (34 m) wide.
Jaipurwas founded in 1727 by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, a Kachwaha Rajput, who ruled from 1699-1744. Initially his capital was Amber (city), which lies at a distance of 11 km from Jaipur. He felt the need of shifting his capital city with the increase in population and growing scarcity of water. Jaipur is the first planned city of India.
Although the present city has expanded from outside of its walls, the original planning was within the walls. The gates used to be closed at sunset and opened at sunrise. Almost all Northern Indian towns of that period presented a chaotic picture of narrow twisting lanes, a confusion of run-down forts, temples, palaces, and temporary shacks that bore no resemblance at all to the principles set out in Hindu architectural manuals which call for strict geometric planning.
For the time, architecture of this town was very advanced and certainly the best in Indian subcontinent. In 1853, when the Prince of Wales visited Jaipur, the whole city was painted pink to welcome him, hence the nickname 'Pink City'. [Wikipedia]



Streets may be paved, but the rest is just dirt. These children donīt seem to mind.


After our arrival in Jaipur, we barely had time for a shower and a sandwich (the staff in our hotel was very slow and we had something to eat later) and we were rushed to the Palace for a visit. A guide was included in our travel arrangements, but we had to pay the entrance fee ourselves. I thought it quite steep, Rp.300 per person which amounts to 9 euro. In this palace I was free to take pictures but for using a video camera we needed to pay extra; we opted not to do this.





I like the symmetry of this display


'Gangajalis' are the largest silver objects in the world as per the entry in the Guinness Book of World Records. They were made in the Mistri Khana (one of the 36 karkhanas of Jaipur State), the City palace, Jaipur by two silversmiths Govind Ram and Madhav.
Each jar was made out of 14000 Jhar Shahi (Jaipur silver coins) , which were issued from the Kapatdwara treasury of Jaipur State in 1894. The coins were melted into sheets of silver. These jars took 2 years to make.

I found it more interesting that these jars were used by Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh II on his voyage to England, to attend the coronation of Edward VII, in 1902; the Maharaja did not trust the English water and had these jars filled with water from the Ganges.
It shows the amount of decadence these Rulers were accustomed to.


The City Palace is a vast complex of courtyards, gardens and buildings.the outer wall was built by Jai Singh, but other additions are much more recent.
Today the architecture is a blend of Rajasthani and Moghul style.
Beyond the main courtyard is the seven storey Chandra Mahal, the maharaja's residence and off-limits to visitors.

It is a pity the guide did not show us the armoury, I read about it in the Lonely Planet only later that evening. In retrospect I wasn't satisfied about the guide at all: he took us for granted, had us wait for him when we had something to eat at the palace (no doubt this was his commission for bringing us here), telling us bare essentials and talking to many people he met during 'our' tour.
Fortunately the other guides we met during this trip were more thorough and attentive.

A forbidden picture.. One isn't supposed to take pictures in the main hall, can't see why not.


Lucky sign
This symbol we saw a lot, it is supposed to bring you luck.

Jal Mahal, the Rajput style "Water Palace" sits in the center of the Mansagar lake.
The lake is often dry in the summer but winter monsoons frequently turn it into a beautiful lake filled with water hyacinths. It must look a lot less attractive when it is not surrounded by water.
This palace was not used to live in, but merely a pleasure spot: it was used for the duck shooting by royal parties..
This is not the building used in the James Bond movie Octopussy, we'll get to that in Udaipur.

From the Jal Mahal one sees a large wall surrounding the entire area.
Not sure what the story is here.




We were treated on a visit to a carpet factory, no obligation whatsoever to buy anything of course...
I am sure the guides and/or drivers get a commission to bring in tourists, but I find these visits tedious. They are on no itinerary, but you always end up in these places. Oh well.


Kite flying
Flying kites is very popular in India and surrounding countries and Jaipur was preparing itself for a festive day where everybody would be flying kites. We were in Jaipur that day, an amazing event but useless for photography: thousands of specks in the air. But that day was concluded with huge display of fireworks, fantastic! No photos of the fireworks either,as I was in a loungechair enjoying the view and a large beer.


Hello! these kids were flying a kite from a nearby rooftop. It is astonishing how high they can fly that kite.

Maybe you'll be able to see the thin string the boy on the right holds, it is barely visible against his shirt from his left hand. Indians are friendly people, but we met an esspecially festive spirit during the kite flying event.



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