Monday, November 29, 2010

Jaipur, Day 13

Today was going to be a relatively easy day. We had a planned excursion to Amer Fort and then an "elephant safari" and lunch at an elephant sanctuary. I saw some shops not far from our hotel that I wanted to check out and then a restful evening.

Amer fort is huge and beautiful. They have been doing lots of restoration work and it shows. Many of the designs on the walls can be seen in traditional Indian crafts. Check the gallery for lots of photos.
There are 2 ways to get into the fort.. drive or a short trip atop an elephant. The elephant rides to the fort have become something of a controversy, with animal rights activists trying to call a halt to it and those that realize that elephants are expensive to feed and keep. The compromise so far is that the elephants only "work" in the mornings when it is relatively cool. We did not take the elephant ride as I had something else planned for later in the day. We drove up. The views were breathtakingly beautiful as the mist cleared up. The palace itself is huge and gorgeous, especially with a lot of the restoration being done. We spent the morning enjoying the art work.
Our afternoon activity was to take place at an elephant sanctuary. They are trying to figure out what to do with retiring elephants. They are expensive to keep. Our car/driver was suppose to take us to Der Amer which is about a 15 minute ride from Amer Fort, however, mid ride we ran into local road construction and the way was blocked by a huge pile of sand. Plan B... someone sent a jeep for us. The elephants from Amer Fort are housed in this area and many passed us on the way... some got there before we did!

We fed our next mode of transportation some bananas and then took a 45 minute elephant ride in the local "forest". It was actually quite pleasant and surprisingly comfortable. We then had a lovely lunch under a tent. I felt like royalty... true we paid through the nose for the pleasure but it was for a good cause.
What was left of the afternoon was spent browsing the local shops. We bargained for some inexpensive shawls to give as gifts. We were getting pretty good at bargaining by now. Dinner back at the hotel and an early night.

While I enjoy seeing all the temples, forts, and palaces, what really interests me are the people and the scenery. I really enjoyed all the drives we took and the chance to take photos of life. India is country of so many different cultures intermingled. One of the reasons for this trip was because I was interested in colors. India IS a riot of color. There is nothing drab about it. From the poorest to the richest, they dress in bright colors.... no drab blacks, browns, and beiges for them. Reds, yellows, oranges, greens, and blues are all around. The women wrap themselves in it.. from simple sari's to the most embellished ones. It is really a treat for the eyes. Even the turbans the men wear are colorful. One of the things I did notice was the subtle difference in color  and dress from region to region. One area I would see more yellow and orange, another area more red and orange. Rajasthan was more colorful than Gujarat or Maharashtra. I saw more blues and greens there. I even saw some purples but that does not seem to be a very popular color. Out in the villages the women wore long skirts and tops with a huge shawl wrapped around them. The sad part in all of this is that because of all the western media that now flows into India, the younger generation wants to wear jeans, not the beautiful outfits of their mothers and grandmothers. They do however wear colorful tops to go with the jeans. Jeans are nowhere near as comfortable as the traditional Indian pants. Maybe they will get over this fad.

Even the goats are interesting

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