A Travellerspoint blog

In Jaipur

Literature Festival and "Sound and Light" at the Jantar Mantar

sunny 22 °C

An early start at the festival to listen to Anirban Bhattacharyya, a Hindustani Classical vocalist - superb

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My first session was with the photographer Steve McCurry (Afghan girl fame). It was a good session but unfortunately not quite what we were all (and all was a big all) expecting as the interviewer and his driver got lost and did not turn up and, more importantly, did not turn up with the photos that were to accompany the session

Next was Stephen Fry in conversation with Anindita Ghose - it was a tour de force and attended by hundreds of people, mainly Indians

I then visited the Google stands and found out about a great project they are running in India; they are providing complete internet kits on the back of bicycles that move around remote villages and teach local women to use the web via tablets and smart-phones. They have 300 villages in the project so far and hope to add 2000 more this year; all at no cost to the villagers

Another global project that Google is running is the Google Cultural Institute - they are digitising art and cultural collections from around the world so that they can be viewed by anyone with an internet connection. A key piece in each collection is being processed using Google's Gigapixel technology to give everyone access to an incredible zooming capability (even low-bandwidth). Click on the link above to see one of these images

Around sunset we headed in the Old City to see the "sound and light" show at the Jantar Mantar observatory site - the cost was 100 Rupees and it was 100 Rupees too much - 1 hour of very faint images on the distant observational structures and an overloud soundtrack of mostly unnecessary history; at least there was a full moon

Our dismal evening didn't end there. We had decided to try a recommended restaurant (the Ganesh) in another part of the Old City just a couple of kilometers away. We had difficultly finding a tuk-tuk but eventually someone came along and said he knew Ganesh. 20 minutes he was heading out of the Old City along a big highway - he obviously had no idea where the Ganesh was. Unfortunately, this happens quite a lot with tuk-tuk drivers - even when you give them an address or a card, they will not say they don't know where it is; they just head off in the hope of finding it, and this had happened to Jan and Greg just the day before. There was no way we could abandon the tuk-tuk on this busy highway, so had to stay with him for another 15 minutes as he turned around and headed back into the Old City. When he stopped to ask where the restaurant was, we decided we'd had enough of this farce, hopped out, walked off down the main street and found a driver who spoke a little English - we gave him our hotel card and he managed to get us back home for a late dinner

And yes, I know I don't speak Hindi and that these drivers need the money but it really doesn't work out for anybody - he drove helplessly around for over 30 minutes wasting fuel, he didn't get any money and we were really pissed off

Posted by kforge 21:07 Archived in India Comments (0)

In Jaipur

The Literary Festival and the Hawa Mahal

sunny 20 °C

I have to tell you that as I write this, I am being subjected to an awful tabla player doing an Indian "punch and judy" show; in our hotel!

Dee went off fabric shopping and the rest of us took 2 tuk-tuks for a 15-minute ride to the Diggi Place festival site. I quite like tuk-tuks but the pollution here is so high that it is a really unpleasant experience

We arrived in time for the marvellous pre-sessions music, then the wonderful Margaret Attwood and then the amazing Stephen Fry (with a few other panelists)

The festival was incredibly crowded and 1/2 a day was enough. After a brief lunch (toasted cheese and tomato sandwich) back at the hotel, we got a taxi to the Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Wind). It was $4 to get in and I think as one of Jaipur's key sites, the palace is very badly maintained - there is nothing of interest in the interior except for a couple of decorated doors and views across Jaipur City, and it's much photographed facade is very difficult to view as you have to would have to do a suicidal dash across a 4-lane road

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Posted by kforge 02:56 Archived in India Comments (1)

In Jaipur

Jantar Mantar Observatory

sunny 20 °C

Jeni went off to the Festival and everybody else didn't

Around lunch-time, the remaining 4 of us rented a car and driver for a couple of hours and went into the Old Town to visit the Jantar Mantar observatory site. Built between 1728 and 1734 it is one of the world's great centres of celestial observation with around 16 scientific structures

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Posted by kforge 05:24 Archived in India Comments (1)

In Jaipur

Anokhi, Rambarg Palace Hotel, the Old Town

We hired a car (People Mover) and driver from 11am to 3pm for $36

Our first stop was the Anokhi Clothing Store where Dee wanted to buy some fabrics. They also have an excellent cafe with mostly organic, vegetarian food. Just a couple of kilometers away, we visited the wonderful Rambagh Palace Hotel; started in 1835 it became a hotel in 1957. It has a large polo field and acres of gardens and we managed to persuade the staff to let us have lunch-time gin and tonic on the Verandah looking out across the gardens to the Moti Doongri fort/palace on the distant hills - the palace is not longer occupied and is open only 1 day a year for a festival at the ancient Shiva temple there

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We then drove up to the Old Town and through it into an area right at the base of the hills - the narrow streets were full of elephants, camels, cows, goats, pigs, horses and donkeys

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Finally, back at our hotel, we all trooped into the underground supermarket opposite the hotel to buy lots of strange Indian snacks

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Posted by kforge 03:29 Archived in India Comments (4)

Singapore to Delhi to Jaipur

Air India

semi-overcast 19 °C

A really good flight from Singapore to Delhi on another Dreamliner 787 (5 1/2 hours). I amused myself by finding comical entries in the in-flight magazine

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We bought some Gin at the Delhi duty-free and then discovered when we were re-checking in our bags that we were not allowed to carry the duty-free in our hand-luggage - we all put the bottles in our hold luggage, fearing that we'd been wearing gin-infused clothing for the rest of the trip. Dee was ahead of us and, as we later found out, refused to put her bottles in the hold luggage. We were also told that we could do that but it would only be confiscated at the security scan. Almost needless to say, but Dee got through with her bottles - so much for airport security!

Our connecting flight to Jaipur was delayed by 1/2 an hour or so by heavy smog at Delhi airport but the very full flight of 1 hour was fine. The 45-minute taxi drive from the airport to the Khandela Haveli was horrendous, not just because it was rush-hour but because of the pollution - Byron Bay roads are looking pretty good

Photos below are by Greg Saunders:

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Posted by kforge 01:28 Archived in India Comments (1)

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