Travelling between cities can be interesting and sometimes boring with roads in disrepair after the monsoon. But flying between cities also has its hassles due to cancelled flights and delays. Taking a train is another option but sometimes it can be slower than by  road, but at least by road you have the  choice of stopping at interesting places along the way. Rajasthan is one of the most romantic regions in India, and the capital city of Jaipur with its famous Amber Fort and pink paintwork of the city has earned the name of ‘pink city’ although it changes colour with both the season and time of day, from a rosy pink to warmest amber, dull core to bright orange. The city’s focus was the elaborate City Palace with seven interlocking courtyards. The Museum beside the building gives an intriguing insight into the life of maharajas. The main bazaar is both colourful and exciting as you wander amongst the people, women dressed in extravagant long embroidered saris, silver and gold nose rings and necklaces, there were stores, selling carpets, brightly coloured shawls some embellished with braided multi coloured spangles, gems, handicrafts silver jewellery. Our first experience after breakfast was a ride on an elephant meandering up the winding road to Amber Fort. First we had to line up for only 30 minutes with the throngs of tourists waiting for an elephant, for me it is not a new experience, but I was happy to enjoy the excitement that surrounded us. Arriving at the Fort we were greeted with the sounds of drums and horns, which is a symbolic greeting to guests who arrive into the square. After much laughter and picture taking with our elephants we then proceeded on our tour of the fort, hounded by hawkers selling anything from brightly colourful umbrellas to small wooden elephants, pretty woven bags, bracelets, thank goodness they were not allowed inside the fort. After our visit we sat and enjoyed a coffee overlooking the fort, and Rajasthans classical landscape of parched hills embracing Lake Malta, where water buffalos snooze lazily in the sun. The walls of the fort  stretch for 14 klms. On the way out we were overwhelmed once again by the hawkers, the best trick in the book is not to speak and keep walking, which we are all experts at doing. Our next visit was to the Observatory, Maharaja Jai Sing 11, the famous scholar of the stars who dotted northern India with his collection of instruments fir observing the heavens, and who chose an exact date for moving his  capital from Amber 17 November 1727 as auspicious. As we drove to the cities central focus the elaborate City Palace we passed an occasional camel with loaded cart in tow. The Palace has 7 interlocking courtyards, when the Maharaja is in residence the flag is flying, today he is there possibly preparing to celebrate Dewali which begins tomorrow. A Museum inside the building gives an intriguing, insight into life and heyday of the Maharajas, their rich costumes, their scimitars and rifles inlaid with bright jewels and silver.  Instead of walking through the busy bazaar we opted for a rickshaw ride through the streets, it is a lot easier to capture not only that perfect picture, but embrace the whole scene in wonder. Time for lunch at a restaurant to revive ourselves before hitting the shops to buy that last minute souvenir. A fabulous day in Jaipur thanks to our wonderful guide. Tomorrow we drive to Agra and the Taj 

Filed under: Jewels of India