Thursday, March 29, 2012

incredibly, India: Day 3, part 2

Welcome back! If you remember, we were just finishing things up at Jaigar Fort, climbing trees and all that fun stuff.
On the way to the Amber Palace--it's behind us.

After this we headed to Amber Palace. To orient you, Amber Palace is built in a valley, whereas the fort is built on an adjacent hill. Standing from a wall of Jaigarh Fort and looking down at Amber Palace, this confused me. To me, it would have been logical to have the fort built around the palace or have the fort be located below the palace. Because an attacking force would start at the bottom and go up the hill--meaning they would reach the palace first. Which would be a problem if there were rulers/people of leadership in the palace. Also, the fort looked like it was made to accomodate royalty, so you can understand my befuddlement. Then the guard who voluntarily started acting as our tour guide explained to Anu that there was a tunnel that led from the palace to the fort. Oh so clever and tricky. I suppose the palace would then act as a decoy in the event of an attack? What a beautiful and elaborate decoy. I'm assuming it was never necessary since it's still in one piece and not demolished.

This is the boy we bought kulfi from-- it was frozen in little cups and he
pulled them out on sticks for us.
We also had to walk a little ways to get to the palace, but not quite as far. At this point, it was getting just a little toasty outside, so we stopped for some kulfi--one of the few street foods that Anu actually allowed us to eat. The best way I can describe kulfi is frozen condensed milk with spices and pieces of nuts mixed in.

The Amber Palace was, like previous sites, beautiful. The walls were a combination of red and yellow as opposed to the predominant red that I had noticed on many of the other buildings. They showed their age and their wear, but there was a wonderful charm about it. Amber Palace also has what looks like a receiving court with a garden and fountain in front of it.

The garden had walkways, but they were off limits to tourists. The receiving court was open air but was covered. The interior walls of this area were inlaid with glass and mirror pieces from top to bottom. We were only allowed to walk in one part as there was some restoration happening while we were there. The designs were intricate and beautiful and the mirrors in the shade made the receiving court seem spacious and cool.

The garden-- the receiving area was at the top left of this photo

The receiving area with a garden view.
A close up of some of the inlaid mirrors

Restoration in progress
This gives you idea of what it all looked like, put together.

We wandered around Amber palace for a while, seeing some places where they cooked and had separate chambers for men and women. Here, as in other places, there were many complex latticework windows and walls. Thinking back, it still amazes me and makes me wonder how long it took and how skilled the workers must have been.

You can see part of the protective wall.
Standing in one of the towers
A detail of one of the latticework walls that sort of doubled as a window.

We wandered all around and bumped into this group of kids. I'd say they ranged in age from 4-15, give or take. They were so full of laughter and I couldn't resist taking a few photos. This made them giggle more and then as I was leaving, I turned around to wave, and one posed for me! They were so fun and so beautiful. I wonder if there was a holiday or if they were skipping school or if they just didn't go to school.

So beautiful!

Strike a pose! They have such beautiful smiles.

Before we left Jaipur, we did a little shopping, and I bought things like silk pillowcases and a pair of handmade shoes and a bag. Jaipur is known for their block printing. I was tempted to buy a blanket or a coverlet set, but they were kind of pricey. I went, instead, for a simple piece of art printed on silk. It was the trio of a camel, elephant and horse. The merchant told me they are the symbols of India because they represent the three landmarks and because the animals are symbolic. The horse represents power, the elephant; good luck, and the camel; love.

A lot of places were closed, because Tuesday was their rest day. This was probably a good thing, because we may never have left if we had had more shopping options.

Finally we headed off in the dust to go back to Delhi since it was a good 5-6 hour drive back.

We got back to Delhi pretty late, but Anu and her parents took us to a cafeteria style restaurant near their home and we feasted on all these different types of bread and curries. Oh, and of course, we had our mandatory lassi to go with the meal.

Lassi cuts the spicy food intensity. And tastes just so yummy.
Part of our feast. (this is where I ask Anusree for names of all these delectable dishes)
Update: the bread is called Bhatura and the chickpea dish is called Chola.
More feast-y goodness. There was so much foooood!
Update: the bread on the left is Naan, Dal Makhani is in the top middle bowl and on the right we have Paneer Tikka with kebabs
She's such a good hostess. And you can just see Nikka's salivary glands on overtime. Sorry for the blurriness. I was hungry.
Update: Anu is serving Dosa, which is a South Indian style of bread, and the curry in the bottom right corner is Saambar, which is also South Indian. According to Anu, "you have chutney and saambar with the dosa and sometimes it has a potato filling inside the dosa. For all the vegetable dishes we call them subji, and the desserts were jalebi (the squiggly orange things)and gulab jamun (the dark brown balls)" Now you know. Go get you some. (I might have to print out this post so I know what to order next time. No shame.)

With that, my friends, we come to the end of Day 3. One more day to go! Hang in there, I hope you're not getting tired of hearing about India!

P.S. You can read about the earlier days of my Indian adventure here, here, here and here (in chronological order, of course)

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