We used tuk-tuks frequently during our travels, they were the most affordable means of transport although not many are as glamorous as this one, being used for a wedding. The fumes/dust are unpleasant and they don't feel very safe, although the drivers are expert - it can be hair raising when traffic comes at you on the wrong side of the road (frequent occurrence) or cows walk in front of you! On some roads the traffic was so thick and somewhat unsafe we were unable to cross on foot, when we did we learned to keep moving and traffic somehow drives around you. If you stop, you will interrupt the flow over everyone!
The main event on our travels in India was to see the Taj Mahal.
This beautiful building/masoleum was built by the Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan to hold the tomb of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal who was his favourite and mother of 14 children. His tomb is also there.
We learned that the real tomb where the Shah and his wife have been laid to rest is actually in a crypt below the ground floor level and not accessible; what we see as tourists is actually a replica tomb.
We needed a guide as there is so much detail and beauty here to appreciate, every surface is inlaid and decorated (inside and out) with semi precious stones). We learned that the inscriptions above were carved larger at the top than at the bottom so that it would appear the same size right to the top when viewed from ground level.
We visited the Pink City, Jaipur. The city was painted pink in honour of a visit from Prince Albert and Queen Victoria, it is the colour of hospitality. There were a lot of stalls along the roadsides selling printing blocks, this region is known for its beautiful hand block printed cotton (as in the skirt I was wearing at the Taj Mahal!).
Below is the spectactular Palace of the Wind
The buildings are made of the most beautiful red sandstone. It makes a huge impact as you enter the city and, of course, the Hawa Mahal, Palace of the Winds (above) is astounding. I think it's the most amazingly clever building I have ever seen. It was designed so that the ladies of the palace could observe everyday life from the secrecy of the many intricate windows, without fear of being seen themselves. The design also ensured the building was very cool and comfortable.
The ladies could also look into a courtyard garden and markets were held there so they could buy trinkets and fabrics from hawkers without being seen.
Below is the Amber Fort, the mother of pearl and mirror work inlaid to the walls of this beautiful building is another sight that is somewhat overwhelming, it is just beautiful beyond words.
Wearing Anokhi block printed wrap top (eBay win) quite a
few of the clothes I found on eBay and charity shopping and squirreled away for this trip, were actually made in India!
Tourists are discouraged from the riding the elephants here, a practice the Government is
now trying to phase out. These elephants are well cared for but we chose not to ride them.
Jaipur is becoming a dry state, we found it difficult to buy alcohol. Not everyone would mind, but we looked forward to a cold beer or a rum and coke at the end of the day. Some backpacker hostels will get it for you from the Government run shops if you ask the day before, and a few 3 star motels have beer. The main hotels will sell alcohol at very high prices. Staff in our hotel were willing to go to the Government shop for us (there's usually limited opening hours and long queues of Indian men!) but luckily we had bought rum at Delhi airport and hung on to it so didn't miss out. We also found a hostel that had chilled beer and gave us free freshly cooked poppadoms, which they ran across the road to get for us! We always negotiated what we were paying for our beers throughout our trip, before sitting down, and always paid for the first one up front to ensure no misunderstanding, you can usually negotiate well down to half the hotel prices if you bargain, the place is not busy and they want you to stay. A friendly conversation, rather than a hard haggle.
The rest of my pictures are randomly taken around our travels through India, where many modes of transport were seen - we didn't try them all!
camels seen coming in to Jaipur
elderly couple, Delhi
Rickshaw drivers, Delhi
and random things of interest, especially food!
snake charmer, Jaipur
I got very close to this charmer but later a guide told me he had once seen a snake leap from the basket, I will be more careful next time!
I am making a short video which I will post a link to soon.