November 13, 1961 – India

Laurie’s Hotel, Agra, India – Clear

     I felt good when I woke up and I was anxious to see more of India after what I had observed at the Taj Mahal yesterday.  Edith and I dressed quickly and met the rest of the group in the lobby for breakfast.

     Enroute to Jaipur, our final destination today, we stopped to visit Fatehpur Sikri.  The perfectly preserved but deserted city stood on a low sandstone ridge and was the creation of Akbar.  For all intents and purposes it was a unique specimen and in the exact condition as when it was occupied by the Great Moghul and his court.  Akbar had built the city to honor a religious man who had predicted he would have a second son after the death of his twins.  The rooms were all so beautiful but empty.

Fatehpur Sikri

Fatehpur Sikri Deserted City (Moghul) Creation of Akbar

Fatehpur Sikri Tomb of Saint

     As we proceeded to Jaipur I got some real insight into what life was like in India and I couldn’t imagine how hard it was for the people to still live so primitively during these modern times.  We passed everything imaginable on the road – trains of small burros carrying loads of products, bullock carts with grain, herds of sheep, goats, cattle and water buffalo.  We saw an elephant, a few camels, tame bears as well as baboons and monkeys.  I noticed that many of the animals wore painted beads around their necks and their horns had a variety of colors.  Mahendra told us colors were used to identify the owner of the animal like brands back home in the United States.  As part of the landscape we saw many birds as large as flamingos, natives in colorful garb and even a settlement of gypsies that we passed by.  We saw flocks of myna birds called the “mad” birds of India and understood why after we heard them make their traditional horrendous noises.  We also saw several snake charmers along the road and I wished we could have stopped to watch them for awhile.

Bull in Road

Countryside in India

Laundry Being Done

      Surprisingly India turned out to be a land of many beautiful trees.   The highways were lined with Neem trees which Mahendra told us were native to India.  He also told us that its extracts had been used for centuries as medicines and for several other purposes.  Although this area was supposed to be cattle country we still saw many acres growing rice.  One impressive sight was a water hole where women were filling red patterned water jugs to carry on their heads back home.  It reminded me of scenes I had read about in the Bible.

Natives at Well

     Once we reached Jaipur we checked into the Rambagh Palace Hotel where we were to stay for one night.  Jaipur had been the capital of India at one time and was still known as the Pink City.  From the hotel garden we could see a fort on top of a mountain.  The Maharaja had lived in the palace where we were staying until about two years before and it was quite fabulous.  The hotel was white marble and had beautiful grounds and courts.  Our bedroom was 65 feet long and 30 feet wide and had a sitting room that was almost as large.  Our room was so spacious and was different than what we had experienced so far.

Jaipur

Another View of Jaipur

Our Hotel Rambaugh Palace

Our Garden View of Fort on Mountain

      After we’d checked in and ate our lunch we left for an afternoon tour to see the “Pink City” which we’d heard was spectacular.  The buildings inside the walled city were constructed of pink limestone were quite striking.  The walls were eight feet thick and we walked through a gate that only royalty was permitted to pass through in the past.  Then we drove through the town passing the Hall of Winds before entering a side entrance to the fabulous palace.  At the Maharaja’s Palace there were beautiful gardens and the building itself contained fabulous riches that were beyond my wildest dreams.  There several rooms that had a variety of displays.  In one they had men and women clothes that were completely embroidered with pearls, rubies and diamonds.  In another place we also saw a fabulous weapon collection that was really impressive.  We saw several doors that were remarkable to see specifically the Peacock Door and the Bronze Door.  At Chandra Mahal the Peacock door formed the center of the Maharaja’s Palace.  Also we saw an ancient observatory built by Jai Singh II between 1718 and 1751.  Once again what we had seen was quite spectacular and demonstrated the contrast between the richness to be found in the palaces and extreme amount of poverty prevalent everywhere. 

Hall of Winds in Pink City

Pink City

Peacock Door

Bronz Door

      I was excited to finally return to our hotel after touring all day because I wanted to see what the food would be like here.  Since our room was so fantastic I had high hopes for our evening meal.  In preparation for our evening I rested on my bed for a few minutes before cleaning up to join the others in the dining room.  Our meal and the service we had during our meal was spectacular making me feel like the royalty that once lived in the palace.  After dinner Edith and I retired to our room to go to bed early because we knew the next day wasn’t going to be an easy one.

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