It seemed to be as far from the rainy, crowded jungle of Mumbai as one could possibly get, when we flew into Jaipur, Rajhistan on Monday the 21st of July.
In 1853, when the Prince of Wales visited Jaipur, the whole city was painted pink to welcome him during the regime of Sawai Ram Singh, hence it is commonly known today as “The Pink City”.
My first thought upon arrival however was – THE HEAT! Tourist season is from October to January in the cool winter months – only the absolutely insane, (or australian) travellers dare to visit the north during the summer when it reaches above 45 C !!!!! It was about this temperature when we arrived and met my friends uncle at the airport.
The heavy heat was intensified by the fact that our car’s airconditioning wasn’t working! I felt semi delirious as we passed crazy street scenes as my brain couldn’t process both what came before me as well as the heat.
When we finally arrived i thought i had died (it seemed quite plausible after the hot car trip) and gone to heaven. NOW i knew how the desert warriors felt when they arrived at an oasis. We had entered “Samode Bagh”, one of 3 heritage monuments and structures built by the noble feudatory ‘Maha Rawal’ or ‘Maha Saheb’ of the Amber and Jaipur principality. All three have rich history of several hundred years and display a fusion of Mughal and Rajasthani art and architecture. They are now part of the Heritage group of hotels under the flagship name of “Samode” that are run by the hereditary owners. But all i cared about was the peacefull green gardens and tranquil environment.
Don’t get me wrong, it was still bloody hot! But far more promising than the red desert outside the gardens towering walls. We had come to this blissful place because my friends uncle is the head chef at the nearby Samode Palace and lives here at the gardens.
He was living in the palace but decided to do up the old stables and retaining the old style and shapes, he’s made a dreamy living space made even more tranquil by the lack of doors, all replaced with pillowy white curtains
It is a 16th century Mughal style garden that spreads over an area of 20 acres and is enclosed by a 15 feet high wall
and the main building has a beautiful living area and very tempting pool! It blends traditional Rajasthan and Mughal décor with the Victorian style, with modern facilities.
It also has 44 sandbank coloured tents with air-conditioning to accommodate visitors. Tents… and air-conditioning? Words you would NEVER hear in the same sentence in Australia! The tent walls (WALLS? TENT?) also depict elegant paintings in Mughal art. Ok, im sorry, i can’t call them tents anymore! The apartments have been furnished with carpets, standing lamps and well designed beds and chairs and other modern facilities.
and i couldn’t believe my eyes when a flash of red led me to track and discover a golden winged woodpecker! I have only ever once a quick glimpse of a woodpecker (when i was doing the horseback riding in Patagonia in February) and was thrilled to observe and admire such a beautiful little creature. We played a game of hide and seek because as soon as i got a close enough to get a good photo it would sneak behind the tree and if i kept persisting it would fly to the next tree where the process would start again. Finally, on about the 4th tree it was relaxed enough to stay put for a little while and let me snap some photos.
Eventually the heat got to me but even as i was walking home, i kept spotting different birds,
That afternoon when i finally got to the tent i just crashed into bed under the air-conditioning (thank god it wasn’t like an Australian tent!). I rested for a few hours until it was time to see the ‘jewel’ of the 3 properties – the Palace. (but that will have to wait for the next post!)
Over the next few days at the gardens i kept spotting many of the birds, including the peacocks and kingfishers. I mention these two in particular as they would always wait in the same place, giving me just enough time to take a photograph before fluttering away. I’m positive that knowing how beautiful they are, they were purposely posing for the camera each time!