Jaipur and Pushkar, India (August 2018)

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Following a trek in Lahaul/Zanskar/Paddar I briefly visited Jaipur/Amber and Pushkar in the state of Rajasthan. Jaipur has been the capital of that state for roughly the last 200 year. Amber (10km north of Jaipur) was the previous capital and is the site of several forts, including the huge Amber Fort. Pushkar (150km southwest of Jaipur) is a prominent pilgrimage town for Hindus.

 

Samode Haveli, Old Jaipur:

This traditional Indian mansion was built ~175 years ago as a residence for the then rulers of Samode, a small town located 42km north of Jaipur. It has now been converted into a hotel run by members of the former ruling family. I spent three nights there.

 

Gorgeous hand-painted hall used as a lounge/reading room and occasionally as a setting for special dinner.

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Left: Old rolling horse. Right: Statue (symbolizing fertility?) behind a plate of freshly cut bougainvillea flowers.

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City Palace, Old Jaipur:

Mubarak Mahal, meaning ″Welcome Palace″, built in the late 19th century with marble and sandstone material to receive visiting dignitaries.

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Rajendra Pol (gate) and its guards. This gate separates the courtyard of the Mubarak Mahal from that of the Diwan-i-Khas (see below). It is flanked by two elephants, each magnificently carved in a single block of marble.

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Diwan-i-Khas (″Hall of Private Audience″) outside the private palace of the royal family.

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Left: Ridhi Sidhi Pol, the elegant gate that separates the courtyard of the Diwan-i-Khas from the private royal residence (Pritam Niwas Chowk and Chandra Mahal). Right: The Chandra Mahal (seven-story palace) overlooking the courtyard of the Diwan-i-Khas.

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The Chandra Mahal seen from the Pritam Niwas Chowk courtyard.

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Four doors open into the Pritam Niwas Chowk courtyard. Each door is exquisitely painted with a specific theme symbolizing one of the four seasons and is adorned with a small statue of a Hindu deity.

 

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NE Peacock Gate (autumn)
with Lord Vishnu

SE Lotus Gate (summer)

with Lord Shiva-Parvati

NW Green Gate (spring)

with Lord Ganesha

SW Rose Gate (winter)

with Goddess Devi

 

Zooms on the tympana above the doors.

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Hawa Mahal, Old Jaipur:

Honeycombed facade of Hawa Mahal, arguably Jaipur′s most iconic landmark. This five-story building was constructed in 1799 to allow royal ladies to observe the life and festivals in the street below without being seen.

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In the streets of Old Jaipur, in the vicinity of Hawa Mahal:

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Jal Mahal, northern Jaipur:

This five-story palace, whose appropriately chosen name means ″Water Palace″, lies in the middle of the Man Sagar lake. Originally, it had been built in a usually dry depression. However, in the 18th century, a dam was built to prevent flooding, causing a lake to form in the depression. The palace was then partially submerged. Over time, due to soil erosion in the surrounding hills, sediment built up on the lakebed, raising the water level even further. Nowadays, when the lake is full, four floors are under water and only the top floor stands out.

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Amber Fort, Amber (~10km north of Old Jaipur):

The construction of the Amber Fort began in 1592 under Maharaja Man Singh. The fort was progressively expanded by the Jai Singhs until they move to Jaipur, their new capital, in the 18th century. The area around Amber Fort is protected by a long defensive wall that exploits the contours of the surrounding hills.

 

Left: View of a short segment of the defensive wall. Right: Gate in the defensive wall before reaching Amber Fort.

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The fort, seen from the east.

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Jaigarth Fort, a hilltop fort, seen from Amber Fort.

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Suraj Pol (″Sun Gate″), the main entrance into Amber Fort. Elephants carrying tourists to Suraj Pol are visible at the bottom right of the photo, despite reports of local abuse and trafficking of elephants and the fact that the fort is easily accessible on foot, or by car (via Chand Pol, ″Moon Gate″, on the western side of the fort).

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Diwan-i-Aaam, the hall used by maharajas to meet general public and address their grievances.

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The Diwan-i-Khas, a smaller hall for private audiences with dignitaries.

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The Ganesh Pol (Gate), which marks the entry into the private palaces of the Maharajas.

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Ceiling decoration inside Ganesh Pol.

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Honeycombed screens cut in marble on the upper floor of Ganesh Pol. (See first photo of Ganesh Pol above.)

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Jay Mandir (″Hall of Victory″, also known as Sheesh Mahal, for ″Mirror Palace″). The inside walls and ceilings are embellished with mosaics of inlaid convex pieces of colored glass and mirrors.

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Courtyard surrounded by the secluded women′s quarters (zenana), with the pillared Baradari pavilion at the center.

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Pushkar:

Pushkar (150km southwest of Jaipur) is a major Hindu pilgrimage site built around the Pushkar Lake, which is said to have appeared when Lord Brahma dropped a lotus flower. There are numerous temples in town, the most famous being the Brahma Temple. The lake has many ghats where pilgrims bathe. The surrounding streets are highly commercial, with shops selling religious items, handicrafts, clothes...

 

Ghats on the western side of the lake.

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Ghats on the southern shore of the lake.

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In the busy streets of Pushkar.

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[People queuing at the entrance of the Brahma Temple.]

 

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[Does the camel really plan to kick the woman?]

 

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