A week in the desert
Day 1: Jaipur
Lily had just woken up as the bus came to a sudden halt, a herd of cows suddenly passed through the road, swaying their sad faces with complete indifference to all the horns. These sights seemed so strange yet fascinating to the little girl. A blue hoarding could be seen from afar, “Welcome to Jaipur. Mommy, we’re here!” Her mom looked at her and smiled. All the pink houses reminded her of the colour of her dollhouse. They reached the hotel around 10 am and quickly freshened up. The tourists who had travelled with them on the bus all gathered in the lobby. They were ready to experience the sights of this old city. The first stop was Hawa Mahal. The most interesting thing to Lily about that was that it was shaped like a honeycomb of a beehive & the guide telling everyone that there were 953 small windows, intricately carved so that royal ladies could look at the commoners without being seen.
Next on their itinerary was Amer Fort, which was on the outskirts of the city, placed on small hillock and overlooking a lake. She got excited because for the first time in her life, she got to ride an elephant up the hill. When they reached, she even got to pat the elephant’s trunk when they reached the entrance. The guide told the group that the insides were built from red sandstone & marble comprising of the Diwan-e-Aam or the "Hall of Public Audience", the Diwan-e-Khas or the "Hall of Private Audience". Lily’s favourite part was the Sheesh Mahal(mirror palace) where the guide lit up a matchstick in the centre of the room and the reflection seemed like it was full of lamps. She wanted to stay in the Sukh Niwas a bit longer, where a tiny waterfall assisted by the winds that are funned through it create an artificially cool climate; a medieval air conditioner if you will. They had lunch at the restaurant ‘1911’ inside the palace complex. Lily had Daal makhni & Naan & to her mother’s surprise, Lily liked the taste and polished off the plate faster than her and even took a second helping.
After an elephant ride back down, the group proceeded back into the city and soon reached Jantar Mantar. The guide told them, was the largest astronomical observatory from the Mughal period, it consisted of fourteen major geometrically built devices and structures for determining things from the local time to tracking the stars location. Lily climbed started climbing on one of the structures but her mom sternly told her to come back which she later found out was called ‘Laghu Samrat Yantra’, that was used for time calculation. Lily was enthralled by The ‘Hindu chhatri’, a small copula, where the top is used as a platform for announcing eclipses and the arrival of monsoons, she didn’t quite understand how it worked but couldn’t really believe how they engineered something like this in the early 18th century and neither could her mother.
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