Wind, Water, Mirrors and Stars

And a few other things not near as pretty...

With a nights rest we were feeling slightly better and were ready to hit the road on our big sight seeing day of Jaipur. We had a quick snack and then left the hotel for the old city, and our first destination...

There it is, the palace of the winds. This old palace faces on to a main street in Jaipur, but this catacombed facade is only the outer wall.
This palace wall was designed so that the princesses, ladies and other females of note could observe the main way for parades and such, but remain relatively unseen. It was inappropriate for women of note to be seen at all you see...
On our way around the side to the entrance we saw a couple of... umm... I don't know what those are...( zebus perhaps?? Some manner of Yak??) pulling their morning load along. There is nothing notable about this, you see it all the time. Just with the early hour the lack of traffic allowed us to get a clear shot.
The streets testify that this was once a great pink city. Now though the walls are crumbling, tarps and ramshackle constructs dot the once pristine lanes, and cows feast in the rubble and refuse.
Once around back we found the gate to the palace, you fan see the top levels of the facade off in the back. Entrance fees are, of course, more expensive for foreigners.
Inside, a courtyard leads to ever higher levels of the palace. The tower on the right is now the only way up or down.
The twisting ramp in the tower gets you up to a beautiful stone terrace with lovely gates and masonry.
I am the Raja. Koo-koo-ka-choo. In the second picture you can see one of the city forts (we didn't visit that one) off in the distance on the hilltop. I read that there is a single room in one of the towers you can actually rent for the night. A good note for those of you looking for unique lodging.
From the facade, you can see the busy streets of Jaipur. Busses, cars, camels, cows, motorcycles, taxis and tuk-tuks all compete for space.
In the other direction though, one gets a great view of the palace complex, which now holds the police station, and beyond that, the ancient observatory; Jantar Mantar.
Inside the facade itself the pick archways cascade forever.

Once we had had our fill of the palace of the winds, we left to find the entrance to Jantar Mantar, the observatory we had seen from the palace. We didn't find it right away, but eventually tripped across it.

Camels are funny looking.

As we got closer yet this cow decided to tag along for a bit, but he didn't want to pay the admission.
Finally we found the entrance to Jantar Mantar. The 400 year old observatory. Filled with all manner of macrocosmic equipment for measuring and observing the heavens.
I am not sure what this one is, I think some sort of wheel once sat on it...
I think this was either for mapping the motion of the moon, or a specially designed prison for holding the evil super computer from TRON.
I got up on a higher vantage point to capture what Andy called "a polish swimming pool."
All joking and abuse aside, Jantar Mantar was exceptionally cool. The fact that hundreds of years ago they did all the calculations, and built all these structures, amazing...
I think this is to measure the magnitude of ones erogenous zones.... I just figure out if it is for males or females.

Andy and the ancient device.

That's gonna be the title for my first children's book.

Or my first Gay porno.

Whichever comes first.

This is for measuring, ummm, like stars and stuff....

I think...


An ancient skate park?? No my friend. These concave marble pits have engraved in them curved lines to plot and track the paths of stars. The photo really doesn't do it justice. Exceptionally fine and cool.
One of the smaller sundials. Yeah, you heard me. Smaller.
Here are the medium and large variety.
The largest sundial is huge! the probuscum stands at 27 Meters, and you can walk up to the top of it. The time is displayed by its shadow along the curving, engraved marble arch jutting out the sides.
This picture comes closer to capturing the coolness of these devices. Curved marble concaves, with channels cut to trace and observe things I cannot understand. You can go underneath and walk around too.

This was my favorite piece of the place. A large stone yard scattered with identical structures. At first I leapt up on one and laughed at D, "Hah, hah, hah, you are too late, the ritual has already begun!"

He told me to stop making light of science. Further inspection however showed that each one corresponded to a zodiac sign, This is an ancient stone zodiac for tracing the stars as they progress through the various phases of the zodiac.


D and my birthdays, respectively.

We left Jantar Mantar behind, and headed off for our next destination. The Ahmer Fort. This fort rests outside of town, some distance up into the mountains. We found plenty of tuk-tuks around to take us the distance, but none wanted to pay our price. Admittedly we were starting to get the hang of the distance and bargaining, so we were asking for a fair, if not, good price for our sake. Eventually we got a tuk tuk to take us out there.

There is the fort. It is impossible to get a good idea of the perspective here. It is actually quite huge. It is a good 20 minute walk from the base here, (where the cab took us, to the actual entrance. One can get up by foot, by jeep, or by one of the elephants seen bathing in the lake with their keepers down below.

We both wanted to ride an elephant, but once we went down there and saw the keepers poking them with metal hooks, I lost my appetite for riding them.

We eventually argued a jeep down to what the tour book says the actual price should be.

Once we made it to the top, we found a small garden and several small gift shops and ticket booths. We found our ticket booth, and paid our admission. Of course, the price for foreigners was much higher than that for Indian nationals.

The gates to Ahmer.

Once inside we were met with some really beautiful architecture, only a small portion of the fort is open, but these first terraces are easily the most beautiful.

Looking down from the fort you can see the beautiful garden that occupies the old battle platform.

It is said this fort is know as 'the palace of mirrors' and I can see why. The walls of the front terraces are all covered in delicately shaped mirrors. This shot doesn't show the detail of the mirrors, but trust me, there are plenty.

This is a good example, though you can't see it to well every dark spot on that wall is dark because it is a mirror.

Even the ceiling is covered in them.


We followed a Japanese tour group briefly, all of whom were remarking how much everything looked like Japan.

I think they mean in the same sense that I look like Bob Sapp, or how I am always complimented on my lovely blue eyes...

Once you pass through these front terraces, the place takes on a bit more of the appearance one might expect from such an old fort.

The Raja D addresses the people.

As I said before, off in the distance the fort stretched on up on to an adjacent ridge, but this part of the fort is not open to tourists.

Rajasthan security on duty.

As we pressed on further into the fort, we came across the labyrinth of rooms, barracks, and kitchens.

Whilst taking this picture a little boy came flying through the room, package in hand. Shortly thereafter an adult came running in.

He paused when he saw us.

"He went thataway." I said.

He was off like a shot.

Andy laughed. I guess you had to be there.

From here things got really cool. We started to weave from room to room down dark hallways and stairwells. No velvet ropes, that means go ahead.

Let that be a lesson to all you. Always carry a flashlight.

We were in one room when we heard some flapping coming from down the hall. I went up to check out the path.

There were two birds flying down the hall. Quickly I realized that birds don't fly down halls and ducked back through the doorway as the bats went flying by. I then moved back down the stairs. "We can't go that way, bats."

"There are bats up there?" Andy asked.





"Yes. Andy why do you always question everything I tell you 3 times?"

"Let me see."

He climbed up and had a peek around the corner as I sat at the bottom of the steps. After a cursory look he turned to me and said "Ain't no bats down there."

At that precise moment two bats from out of nowhere flew right at Andy, who ducked, and down the same hallway.

"That, Andrew," I said calmly," Is Gods way of telling you to listen to what I say."

My speech was cut short by Andy pointing up to the hitherto unnoticed bats nest stuck to the ceiling.

He suggested that we throw stones at them, or spray them with a hose, or sign them up for magazine subscriptions they didn't want.. For some reason he was hell bent on bothering those bats. I eventually talked him down to shooting a flash off at them. I figured that would be agitating enough.

This is the resulting photo The two dark spots are bats still at rest.

From that point on we checked the ceiling before entering any room.


We spent some time wandering around those old rooms and passages. At one point we found evidence of a rats nest. a few seconds after we heard the squeaking of a rat in the distance. Then the squeaking of another. Then the squeaking of many others, and in the rising tone that suggested they were approaching fast.

We booked.

Once we were done, we made it back for our jeep ride back a few minutes late. We had noted that other people had mentioned the water palace as a tourist attraction and we had also noticed that it was just up the road from our hotel. It occurred to us that we could catch a cab back there, and then see the palace and walk back to the hotel. I bought a cheaper than cheap hat for 2 dollars from a beggar, as up to this point I was using a bandana as a hat, and was getting a bit fried. D mocked me for my beach hat, but I think it got the job done just fine. He must have been the most persistent peddler ever. I eventually tried to turn the tables on him and tried to sell him my shirt. In the end, I paid to much, but I really needed the hat. Unfortunately, and unbeknownst to me, the damage was already done.

The water palace sits in the middle of a dry cracked lake bed. There is still water on 3 sides of it, but you can approach it from the dirt field. I local beggar boy followed us out there, and showed us where the path was. I gave him a few rupees at the end of it all.

Just in case you were wondering where all the heat of Jaipur is focused it is here. It hit me like a ton of bricks. The sun beat down on me, and beat me down. I dragged my feet, I was so slow and ponderous. D was getting a bit upset and asked me to pick up the pace. I just couldn't. I was starting to feel the effects of the local food and water, and was obviously sun poisoned.

If one makes the trek out over the cracked lake, and avoids the cows and pigs (I don't mid the cows, but the pigs make me nervous) and then climbs through one of the windows, and makes their way up to the top of the 'water' palace, they will find a small, unkempt, but none the less relatively charming garden. A nice picnic spot, provided you don't visit at two in the afternoon.

From there we walked back to the hotel. We stopped for a drink at a gas station. I needed that drink and a few minutes in the shade. I was so baked, and slow, all I could do is follow D, muttering and struggling. The restaurant, was air conditioned where we stopped for dinner a bit further down. We had some spinach murg, and pakora (which were great) and lime soda.

From there we headed back to the hotel and relaxed. Before heading out shopping again. I was a wreck. D shopped for pottery as I sat in a cool metal chair staring forward, watching the lizards and mice run across the floor of the store.

If I ever get rich, I am going back for one of those chairs.

**Warning** The following passage is rude and foul. I have recorded it for the sake of accuracy, but if you have no interest in a brief discussion of sickness please move on. If you want to hear about my experience with Delhi Belly, then click here. I promise, there are no pictures.

D enjoyed some CRAX, Salted Pnutz from the honor bar. Only 5 rupees. You know the old saying; you get what you pay for...


On to Day 3