The City Palace and Gaitor

A leisurely breakfast and a bit of lounging in the garden, I’d recommend the Hotel Diggi Palace to anyone. Our room (with air-con, fans and en-suite bathroom) was Rs1,080 inc. (about 14 pounds).
The hotel arranged for an autorickshaw to take us out at 2pm. Our driver was a nice chap called Ali and his rickshaw could seat 4 passengers. The first destination was the City Palace, with a brief stop at one of the gates into The Pink City en-route.

Ali dropped us outside the palace and agreed to meet us an hour and a half later. After paying the Rs180 each entry fee we went into the Palace to be greeted by several men offering their services as guides. We turned these down and headed for the textile gallery. This was a display of clothing worn by the Maharajas of Jaipur and members of their families. We were accompanied round by a splendidly moustachioed chap in a turban who filled us in on lots of detail about the exhbits in exchange for a Rs10 “gift”.

Heading through a gate, we came across a section of the Palace being used as a film set, teaming with actors, crew members and extras, along with four beautifully decorated camels and two fantastic elephants covered in jewellry. Nearby were two huge silver pots (apparently the largest pieces of silver in the world) which one of the Maharajas filled with water from the Ganges to take to England with him for the coronation of Queen Victoria’s successor; he didn’t trust the English water.

A quick walk round the less interesting art gallery and armoury gallery and we headed out to see the Royal Observatory. This was an area of ground filled with strange shaped constructions which were (and still are) used as sundials and for checking zodiacal alignments etc. One sundial is 27 metres high and can be used to tell the time within 2 seconds.

After that we met upwith Ali again and drove off up the Amber Road to a water palace, the Jal Mahal, and then on to the Maharajas’ chhatris (marble and sandstone tombs) at Gaitor. Monkeys were playing in the nearby banyan tree and Ali gave us a tour of the tombs.

Back to the hotel for a drink and more sitting in the garden. We were called over by an old chap who mans the switchboard at the hotel and shown an impressive portfolio of paintings, including some tiny ones (less than a centimetre square) of elephants. We succumbed to his charms or rather those of the paintings and bought a few postcard sized pictures, with the most expensive costing Rs250 (about 3 pounds). We resisted the “message written on a grain of rice” though. Not entirely sure I could find a use for one of those.

We called some hotels for our car trip and booked rooms for a our 3 day Shekawati excursion (Nawalgarh and Mahansar).

A good meal at the hotel restaurant and we retired to bed, having agreed to meet Ali for further sightseeing at 11am the next day.

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