Our Book

2011 Biking Rajasthan

Rajasthan’s capital, Jaipur, known as the Pink City, has a population of 2.6 million; while cycling you can literally be approached by traffic from all four directions at the same time**. Here we visited the Sun Temple with its resident monkeys, the Palace of the Winds, built into the City Palace walls so that the ladies of the court could watch street processions without being seen, Amber Fort, founded 11km north of Jaipur in 1600, and the extraordinary Jantar Mantar observatory.

Jaipur Sun Temple
Jaipur Sun Temple
Jaipur Sun Temple
Jaipur Sun Temple
Jaipur Sun Temple
Jaipur Sun Temple

Amber Fort’s founder fought 75 battles in 52 years, but still found the time to acquire 12 wives and 150 concubines. His queen, on special occasions, wore clothing embroidered with gold and weighing so much that she had to be wheeled around the palace in a wheelchair pushed by four women.

The present Maharaja of Jaipur’s grandfather was a devout Hindu who believed that non-Hindus were unclean and that any contact with them had to be followed by ritual cleansing. He wore gloves when dealing with the British, and after each meeting with the Viceroy burned his clothes and bathed in holy Ganges River water. When he was invited to England to celebrate Edward VII’s coronation in 1902, he carried 8,000 litres of Ganges water with him in two 345kg silver urns, each beaten from 14,000 melted silver coins.

The Jantar Mantar observatory was begun in 1728. I did not understand very much about the individual instruments, except for the sundial which stands 27m high and on which the shadow moves 4m in an hour. The best guide book to the observatory is sold outside the exit gate; as it is not an official guide book, the vendors are not allowed to sell it outside the entrance where it might be of some use!

Jaipur Palace of Winds
Jaipur Palace of Winds
Jaipur Amber Fort
Jaipur Amber Fort
Jaipur Amber Fort
Jaipur Amber Fort
Jaipur Amber Fort
Jaipur Amber Fort
Jaipur Amber Fort
Jaipur Amber Fort
Jaipur Jantar Mantar
Jaipur Jantar Mantar
Jaipur Jantar Mantar
Jaipur Jantar Mantar
Jaipur Jantar Mantar
Jaipur Jantar Mantar
Jaipur Jantar Mantar
Jaipur Jantar Mantar
Jaipur Jantar Mantar
Jaipur Jantar Mantar

** Traffic: Those approaching from behind are, of course, not entirely unexpected, though the variety of vehicles, including the odd camel and elephant, is amazing. Those approaching directly from in front can be seen and calculated into your imminent future plans. Those filtering into the traffic from left or right, without warning and quite often without looking, pose an interesting challenge. Based on previous experiences, we quickly distilled four rules of the road: (1) hold your line, (2) don't do anything surprising, (3) trust in the remarkable spatial skills of the average Indian driver, (4) don't argue with anything bigger or faster than you ie if in doubt, get off the road!

Previous Page
First Page
Next Page