19 Days In India- Day 4
I was able to stay asleep until 4am today! Making progress in the memoirs of a jetlagger. I was the first to wake so I got my things ready to get in a nice morning shower. I turn the faucet & realize after 15 minutes of letting the water run, there is no way that water is getting any warmer. I decide to compromise with the frigid water & wash my body & only dampen my hair. Today was palace day and we planned on taking some pretty photos not only for memories but for GRL Collective so I had to make myself look as presentable as possible. We headed out with no breakfast but a Cliff bar each and were ready for the day. Shravan our driver was already waiting in the small garden for us. He explained we’d see the fort first and then the palaces. The first stop wasn’t the fort after all, it was Hawa Mahal. A palace I had seen all over instagram & so wished to meet in person. It stood tall with a beautiful orange color that was as warm as the outer layers of the sun. It was chaotic out front, but Jaipur is just chaotic in general. We took photos as fast as we could and hoped back in the car. Next stop was photos at the bottom of Amber Fort. We all got out of the car to line up for the photo moment when I see this man approach and toss a basket on the floor. He opens the basket and I nearly had a heart attack. What did I see? A coiled black cobra snake just feet away from my feet. If you know me, you know I have a snake phobia. If you don’t know me, now you do and I’ll say it louder for the snake charmers in the back. I HAVE A SNAKE PHOBIA. All I remember saying was “no no no no no!” kindly or not kindly pushing my friends out of my way (it was a blur) and running to the car, closing the door and locking it. Shravan tried coming in the car and telling me “it’s okay, not dangerous.” He explained that they had taken the fangs out. I. Did. Not. Care. On my list of snakes I’m most afraid of king cobras take the #1 spot. I could not get out of the car until that snake was back in that basket and far away from the ground I was standing on. I look in the rear view mirror and here I see Angel kissing the snake. KISSING. Finally the snake man left & I could get out of the car without having a panic attack for a good photo moment.
Shravan then told us to get up to the fort he could either drive us or we could take an elephant. We decided collectively that we felt sad for the elephants and didn’t want to ride them so he drove us up to the top. On the way up there was a beautiful hidden temple. It was tucked away in what looked like a neighborhood. It was breathtaking. It had been there since the 16th century. We walked up the steps to the entrance asking Shravan if we needed to take off our shoes, put on scarves etc. To the shoe question he said “as we get closer to the temple.” All of the details as we approached were spectacular. Carvings of elephants & women adorned in jewelry lined every wall. We took off our shoes at the base of this second set of stairs. We walked into the temple to find a couple women praying at the alter. Shravan took us to the front to get blessings. I was first up, I approached, bowed with my hands in prayer, a man touched my forehead with orange paint that might’ve been turmeric & Shravan told me to ring the bell above my head. I exited without turning my back to the alter and next was Angel then Priscilla. This place felt so spiritual. Almost 500 years of prayer have happened within these walls and you could just FEEL it. We continued up to fort in the comfort of the car. The minute we got out of the car we had street vendors coming at us from every angle. They showed us paintings and gold peacocks encrusted with rhinestones, bags of all patterns and colors and beautiful bangles. Most approached us speaking Spanish, if you don’t respond to that they start speaking Italian, Russian, you name it. These vendors are straight up linguists.
We decided to get a guide for the Amber Fort because the guide at the Taj Mahal proved to be super helpful. The hand painted walls in this palace took my breath away. We learned that the current King of Jaipur is 18 years old and is studying in London right now. Apparently he has no political power. We also learned that the first King who lived here had 12 wives at one point. Each wife had her own apartment and from the King’s room he had a secret passageway to each. The guide told us that when he wanted to “get romantic” with a wife he’d use the Kama sutra on his way to her apartment. There was even a tiny Kama sutra painting high on one of the walls, that I made sure to take a photo of…obviously.
We finished taking tons of photos and headed back down the line of vendors to get to the car. We decided to see City Palace tomorrow because all the vendors and the crowds were so draining. I asked Shravan if he could take us to where they sell stones. A big part of the reason I came to Jaipur was to shop for stones to make some new jewelry designs. Jaipur is known all over the world for their stones so I was super excited to see the shops. I was like a kid in a candy store. They showed us the process of how they cut and shine the stones which was really cool. We followed one of the men into the shop portion and I found so many, too many pretty things. Raw amethyst stones, moonstones of all shapes and sizes and the opals really caught my eye. Two hours and two cups of chai later we were finally done there. Onto the next stone shop, a shop that our tour guide from Amber Fort works at. There I found so many beautiful stone rings. I can’t wait to share! Two hours and four cups of chai later we were finally leaving there. Poor Shravan was probably extremely annoyed at us so we apologized profusely for taking so long and hopped back in the car.
We didn’t move much as the traffic in Jaipur is insanity. Surrounded by scooters and bikes and different sizes of tuk tuks and giant bags of sugar on the back of bikes. We sat there staring at the commotion all around us and asked Shravan questions about god knows what. He asked us if we wanted to get an Ayurveda massage down the street before dropping us off. We gushed about how tired we were and he dropped us off at the front gates of our guest house. I unlocked the very old lock to our room and opened the door to what felt like relaxation. I decided to shower at night because the cold water seemed less scary in that moment. I took some melatonin, Priscilla some Benadryl and we all knocked out between 9:30 and 10.