We left Kolkata on a very early flight across the northern part of India to Jaipur, in the eastern part of the state of Rajasthan.
Jaipur was begun in 1727 at the edge of the Thar Desert, which extends into Pakistan. Jaipur is the capital city of Rajasthan with a population of more than 3 million people & is known as the pink city because it was painted that color when Prince Albert visited in 1876.
Unexpectedly we were met by our driver identifying us with a colorfully hand-painted canvas banner… part of a special introduction to Rajesthan by our travel agent, Ashok Bakshi, who had helped us plan our first trip in 2008. He took the night train from his home in Delhi to give us a personal tour of this city.
While the World Trade Park is a shopping mall which we passed driving into the city from the airport, giving a taste of the progress which the country is experiencing,
As well, there was a rather pristine temple complex of a type which we encountered numerous more times, bringing the three major faiths together: a tall Hindi tower; a Buddhist pyramidal square dome; an Islamic domed “porch” as if one might enter to move through the religious history of this deep culture as an architectural traverse without the political clamber of battling divisiveness. Note, however the battlements of the fort on the ridge above… our home-stay was very near-by.
As we passed through the traditional three gates into the inner city the buildings became more delicate & delicious.
\The Maharaja’s audience pavillion…
A fascinating treasure is a pair of huge silver jugs, which were made to carry local water for his use on a voyage to England!
We got to know Ashok’s life-long love of travel so much better during this day of his attention… Here we are discussing the elaborate mosaic technique of using pieces of convex mirror to collect & disperse light to scintillating effect which we were to find even on the ceilings of several of our hotel rooms…
Seemingly no surface was left un-worked or un-decorated… sometimes with specific function, such as stone screens allowing a private viewpoint.
Single slabs of stone pierced with unimaginable skill!
Or, in another more delicate mode, low relief carvings of botanical fantasy carved to seemingly ‘lift” objects above the surface in several planes.
This ineffectual guard proved more decorative when we wanted a photograph… becoming enlivened by the prospect of the tip we would give him…
This building is barely more than a facade… only one room deep, as you can see sky through some of the windows, which are screened with pierced stone. It is an observatory of a different sort… to allow the women of the palace to watch the street life without being seen.
My eyes are caught again by the function of the lashed scaffolding…
The founder of the city was a scholar deeply interested in astronomy. He built the huge observatory named the Jantar Mantar which has numerous sculptural instruments built of marble with precise markings for measuring celestial movement.
An immense collection of sundial-like tools.
This construct fascinates me for its presentation as a huge concave marble sculptured surface supported almost invisibly above some sort of working space where someone can somehow view & measure movements of celestial objects.
I had to radically change the exposure of the photo to see into those shadows. It is both art & engineering!
The observatory facilitates both astronomy & the astrology which is so important for being consulted to set wedding dates, for instance. Here we celebrate our own signs in its large circular plan.
This one day introduction to Rajesthan was fulsome indeed! As we were driven home in the evening we were greeted by well-lit familiar buildings further amplifying the city’s nomenclature as “The Red City”.
The ladies observatory’s facade is lusciously lit-up!
A last photo-shoot by Ashok featured bit of light was the full moon over the summer palace, which is air conditioned by the evaporation from being built literally into a lake… since we fly tomorrow this must be saved for another visit…