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Kim’s Travel Diary

Friday, 21 Sep 2007

Location: Jaipur, India

MapAn early start this morning as we were going to see Amer Fort, one of the most famous places in Rajasthan and very well know thank to all the Bollywood films that have been made there. Amer Fort is most famous for the fact that it is still used as a summer retreat for the Prince and his family and the fort was never taken by force. It sits on a hill about 60 minutes drive from Jaipur and is at present undergoing a major facelift to restore it to some of its former glory. We arrived to be greeted by huge queues of people form all over the world waiting to enter the fort - reason for queue - elephants!! - you enter the fort on elephant not by foot and god, did the Americans love it! They yelled and screamed all the way to the top but being British I sat there and just took pictures! It seemed to take a long time to reach the top but we did and had a few very amusing few moments as the Mahoot tried to reverse the elephant into his correct parking bay and then he made us pay to get off!! and we had paid to get on in the first place - talk about a captive audience.

The fort itself was a wonder of rooms and courtyards. The reason the fort had been built in the first place was to be part of India's version of the great wall and to protect the city from invasion but the reason it was abandoned is even better. The Prince of the time had only twelve mistress's and each had their own apartment but he decided that this was not enough for a man of his standing in the community and he aquired three more but had no more room to house them and the other women were not prepared to share - what do you do in a situation like that, you build a new palace. The palace was also build with very green theme, the walls were plastered with cow dung, lime and egg to make them smooth but to also act as a temperature control measure, taking in the warmth of the summer sun and retaining warmth in the winter. The apartments also had showers for the courtesans, a small fountain in the front set in a three foot hole that the lady of pleasure stood in and was washed by the fountain. This water was then drained from the fort and used for the gardens at the foot of the hill. This was all back in the 1700's and we thought we were being clever with some our modern day methods. There is also the most incrediable glass ceiling in the glass palace that was transported from Venice and now rivals some of the great palaces in the world. This building was used for dance and music and light by candle light - not only would the reflections have been wonderful but all the warmth and light was reflected in the ceiling and bounced back into the room - instant central heating.
We walked down from the hillside and back in Jaipur for yet another lecture before lunch. I can honestly say that this trip is lacking in many things but food is not one of them.
A trip to the Bazar this afternon to try and buy some clothing for Laslot. I have to wear something that covers my ankles and shoulders and does not reveal any else, basically sackcloth from head to toe.