Another day, another early start.
We loaded our kit back into the cases and hit the road again, this time east towards Jaipur. We stopped off at Fatehpur Sikri on the way, a town built to be the capital at incredible expense and then abandoned a few years later for reasons pretty much unknown. It was an incredible place, made all the better by the approach – the huge gateway arch soaring over us as we ascended the steps was very intimidating and once inside the walls it was all the things we’d come to expect – serene, beautiful and incredibly detailed. We spent a couple of hours happily wandering about getting told more tales by our guide in his idiosyncratic style.
Eventually we were driven back down the hill in a rickety old bus driven by a man who clearly thought he’d left the oven on at home, such was his speed and lack of any semblance of braking, to our car and continued on our way to Jaipur.
After more motorways, hand-to-hand driving and casual disdain for any kind of adherence to such niceties as staying on your own side of the road, we arrived at our last hotel. We had a quick wash and brush up before heading out to find a curry house recommended by our driver. He’d offered to take us there but I was desperate to get a shot in a Tuk Tuk.
We had fun haggling the rate down from ‘wet-behind-the-ears’ rate to just over local rates and hurtled through the much diminished traffic to the restaurant, where we had a great curry, got buttered up by the manager and got to spend 10 minutes meeting his bewildered son for reasons that neither we nor the son really understood. On the way home we had an ongoing negotiation with a different Tuk Tuk driver who eventually agreed to take us back to our hotel for 10 rupees – I think he was driving past on his way home anyway…..
Next day we saw some more of Jaipur and visited the highlight of this particular section of our trip – The Amber Fort. I have to tell you that the bar set by having seen the Taj Mahal was pretty high, but The Amber Fort was right up there for me. The hall of mirrors was breathtaking. Our guide for this part of the trip was the best so far, extremely knowledgeable again, but also funny and with tons of charisma. Every time we encountered any women on our walk (of all ages from 20s to 60s) he would stop for a quick chat, leaving them giggly & flustered looking. I have no idea what he was telling them but he was a charmer for sure.
We stopped off at Jantar Mantar, a tour de force of science, superstition and engineering, built by the ‘King And A Quarter’ Sawai Jai Singh which blew me away too. Sundials the size of houses, accurate to within fractions of a second stood next to astrological devices on similar scales, all beautifully built to phenomenal tolerances. It was ace.
Our final stop of the day was a jewellers, there was more haggling, some fancy craftsmanship and what was a pair of ruby earrings became a ring and pendant set, delivered to our hotel within a couple of hours.
We had our final night in the hotel in Jaipur before heading back to Delhi the following day to spend our last overnight in an anodyne airport hotel, ready to catch our flight to Dubai the next morning.