My Tour of India comes to an end19 April 2013
My final day in Jaipur and my penultimate day in India, for what has been a truly memorable experience. An opportunity to discover the fascinating elements that make up this unique country - the affluent and successful of new India living alongside the less privileged of old India. The happy faces and polite manners, the rich history and wonderful culture. The temples and places; the scenery and wildlife. India is like no other holiday experience on earth.
Apart from being known as the Pink City (all of the buildings within the city gates were painted pink in honour of the visit by King Edward VII), Jaipur is also referred to as 'the city of colours' due to the bright saris worn by all of the women every day of the week. The streets were awash with these resplendent dresses in bright orange, purple, yellow, pink and red with gold edges. And it doesn't matter whether the women are shopping, working in the fields or worshipping at the temple, a burst of colour is the prerequisite ensemble.
En route to a 'surprise' event that had been arranged by my hosts, I noticed that the tuk tuks in Jaipur are much larger here than those in Delhi, and I now understand this is because they are mainly used as taxis for local people. Whilst journeying through the streets, we were slowed shown considerably by a funeral procession, where the coffin was being carried through the street and followed by a meandering line of mourners: friends and family members, with all off the men wearing a white cap as a mark of respect to the deceased.
After leaving the boundary of the pink city we turned off the road and ventured down a track for about two miles to our 'surprise destination. To my surprise, the welcome reception was performed by a herd of elephants, with the bull (presumably the head of the herd) bejewelled and decorated in his finest attire and standing with grace and authority. But this was to be no ordinary animal viewing and photo opportunity, as sport was on the agenda in the form of polo on elephants. The match was extremely entertaining and some of us actually participated in it. Now, to be honest, this was a bit scary to start with as it was such a long way up, but once I got used to the size, height and lumbering movement of these magnificent animals I felt in very safe hands (or maybe I should say trunk). What a wonderful experience!
The following morning we ventured to the city palace, where the Marharja and family still live in one enormous wing today; whilst the rest of the palace has been made into a museum where the history of the textiles, clothing and the armoury are displayed. I found everywhere to be accessible by ramp - except the armoury as this can only be reached by a staircase. We finished the city tour at the Jantar Mantar - the astronomical observatory which dates back to 1726 and is one of five such astronomical wonders constructed in India and still providing accurate predictions in the 21st century. Most of the area and gardens around this site is accessible.
This was our final day in Jaipur - and tomorrow I shall be travelling back to Delhi to fly home. My final evening in Jaipur was spent in a futuristic tent site, which gave everyone in my party the perfect opportunity to soak up their last views of India in a natural environment. This tour has opened my eyes to a whole new world of opportunity for those Enable customers looking to widen their horizons. With the hotel and tour audits now safely stored away in my case, I have all I need to produce my final reports. I look across the landscape before retiring for the evening - and there I notice a camel transporting a family in a cart alongside motorised vehicles. Now that could only happen in India, and that's precisely why I love it!
Good night India, tomorrow I shall be heading back to Delhi airport for my homebound flight. It's been magical!