Travel Diary India – Part 14 – Jaipur

Jaipur

Hawa Mahal

The Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds) is one of the most impressive buildings in Jaipur. It is stunning from both the inside and out. The grounds inside of the palace are quite large and you can freely walk around and explore. There are many rooms, courtyards, corridors and staircases. I spent a good couple of hours here just wandering around and getting lost. Much of the interior is bare but you can still definitely get a sense of what life was like when this palace was in full operation.

Hawa Mahal

The 5 story façade of the Hawa Mahal is designed to resemble the crown of Hindu god Krishna

Small windows

Latice windows

Many windows in the Hawa Mahal adorn intricate laticework

The windows in this palace are worth a mention. On the exterior there are 953 small windows decorated with intricate lattice work. These windows have a special purpose. They enabled royal ladies to walk through the palace and look out into the streets without being seen by the people below as they were expected to have their face covered. The windows also allow for a cool breeze to pass through the palace creating an early form of air-conditioning. This may also be what gives it its name; The Palace of Winds. Inside, there are also some very striking stained glass windows scattered around the palace displaying bright yellow, green, red and blue.

To the top

From the very top of the palace, there is a fantastic view of the city. A maze of tight stairways leads to the top. There is only one small section of the palace that reaches five stories so it can become very busy with people, but it’s worth it for a look.

Jaipur

The view from the very top of the Hawa Mahal

The crowds

I’m usually put off by large crowds of people at tourist sites and historical monuments and here, there were a lot of people, but it didn’t bother me. This palace feels like it should be full of people and it creates an atmosphere that seemed appropriate. I find that ruins and temples are best visited alone to attain that eerie feeling and connection with its history, but places like places and forts seem to benefit from there being a lot of people around. After all, this is probable what it was like.

The Monkey Temple

The monkey temple is accessible by taking a short tuk tuk ride out from the main part of the city. I wanted to go here purely because it’s a temple over-run with monkeys; this kind of stuff, I find interesting.

The monkey temple

The monkey temple

Scammed straight away

There isn’t supposed to be a charge for visiting this site but nevertheless, there was a man taking advantage of the situation and collecting money from tourists to enter the grounds. I didn’t mind paying a small entrance fee, but he also wanted me to pay for bringing my camera as well. And the camera fee was 4 times as much as the entrance fee that he was asking. I knew I was being scammed, and I got really angry with the guy. I argued with him about the ridiculous, made-up prices but he wouldn’t let us enter without paying. I didn’t want to leave without seeing what I’d come here for, so I reluctantly paid the outlandish camera fee and we went inside.

Where are all the monkeys?

No monkeys

No monkeys, this is a bird only zone!

Anna and I walked through the grounds of the temple, climbed up a large staircase to where there were many beggars and a man charming a cobra in a basket. We came to a pool where some people were swimming. Further on, up some more stairs, we entered a small village. The temple can also be accessed from this direction, which would have been better as there wasn’t anyone here extorting money from tourists.I had walked through the whole of the temple grounds without seeing a single monkey. And then suddenly they began to appear. We walked back down all the stairs to where there was a nice patch of grass to sit, and a group of monkeys followed us and frolicked around on the grass, chasing each other and play fighting. I was expecting a lot more monkeys than what appeared, but it was still a very entertaining afternoon.

Don’t go to the zoo

The zoo in Jaipur is one of the most depressing places I have ever been. It is badly run, under staffed, poorly maintained and the animals aren’t cared for properly.

Jaipur zoo

If only the animals were looked after properly as well

There is a ticket booth at the front gate where you first need to buy a ticket to enter the zoo. In true Indian fashion, there is no orderly queue or even an un-orderly queue. Patrons were simply pushing and shoving in a huddled mass desperately trying to thrust their money through a small window in the kiosk to be the next one served. It was already like a zoo and I hadn’t got my ticket yet. I was trying to be polite and civilised in the hope that others would do the same, but I was continuously being pushed out of the way and cut in front of. I soon realised that the only way to get served in this melee was to barge my way through just like everyone else.  Using my experience of being in the moss pit at a Slayer gig, I began bouncing people out of my way in all diections, and although I felt a little bad for it, I was at the window in no time.

Jaipur zoo

A very unhappy lion

The zoo isn’t very large and there aren’t really that many animals, but the ones that are here, look miserable in their small enclosures. There was a single lion, on his own. He was in an enclosure barely big enough to build a hole on a mini golf course. He wasn’t moving, just lying there slumped and filthy. I wonder how long he’d been on his own like this. Lions are social animals and need to be around others. Spectators around the lion enclosure began to throw stones and sticks at him to provoke a reaction. The lion was hit and slowly pulled himself up and shuffled into his shelter away from the thoughtless and cruel onlookers.

Similar treatment of the animals was happening all over the zoo; bottles were thrown at crocodiles, many of the animals were teased, taunted and shouted at, banging on cages, people reaching through the cages to touch and grab the animals, people were even feeding the animals. They brought bags of food that they were just throwing into the cages.

Jaipur zoo

Bottles had been thrown at the crocodiles

Some of the animals looked as if they had gone mad. A sloth bear was jumping up and down on the spot and a tiger was continuously walking around in circles. Some of the animals simply refused to come out of their dark and dirty shelters. They have become scared of the abuse from the Indian public.

One of the most troubling aspects of all this is that there were security guards on duty around the park, but they did nothing to stop any of this. They pretended not to notice.

Jaipur zoo

This tiger refused to leave his small cage

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