After we left the Taj Mahal, we hired a driver and drove another 5 hours to Jaipur. This is where the vacation started. We explored Jaipur to the max – we road elephants, visited 3 different ancient forts, bought sarees, watched 2 snake charmers, went to a crazy monkey temples, and ate way too much naan.
This magnificent fort is an extensive palace complex, built from yellow and pink sandstone and white marble. You can get to the top of the fortress on elephant-back, but animal welfare groups have criticised the keeping of elephants at Amber because of reports of abuse, and because carrying passengers can cause lasting injuries to the animals.
We road the elephants, and it still doesn’t sit right with me. I questioned the handlers extensively, and they all told me that the elephants are well cared for and only carry passengers for a few hours in the morning, then they get the rest of the day off. If it were just Jacob and I traveling, I would have refused the ride for the sake of the elephants, but as a family plus friends, it was hard to be the only ones to opt out.
Hiring a guide or grabbing an audio guide is highly recommended because there are very few signs and many blind alleys. We were lucky enough to be traveling with a local Indian chiropractor who served at the mission with us. He was an incredible tour guide and taught us all the ins and outs about the fort.
Galta Ji monkey temple is a large Hindu temple complex that lies about 6 miles east of Jaipur. The temple is centered around a natural spring that has been channeled to fill seven large pools. In these pools pilgrims come to ‘bathe away their sins’ while, at quiet moments, the playful monkeys can be found swimming in the holy waters.
There are 2 types of monkeys – rhesus macaque and langur monkeys – both are completely unafraid of people, so expect to be mobbed if brave enough to feed them. The Galta Ji Jaipur temple is slightly off the common tourist trail but it makes for a fun half day excursion from Jaipur, while the short hike and high vantage point of the sun temple is a beautiful place to watch sunset.
There is no entrance fee to visit the temple but holy men may ask for a donation (Rs20-50) and visitors cameras will be expected to give a Rs50-100 donation. Bags of nuts or bananas can be purchased (Rs10-20) but expect to be mobbed by the monkeys who will happily charge at you for the food.
The Jaigarh Fort was built to secure Jaipur City and the Amer fort from warlords and rivals. It has only been attacked once in it’s 500 year history and holds the largest cannon in the world, it’s really really big.
Located at a distance of 10 miles from the Pink City, the magnificent royal construction Jaigarh Fort grabs the attention of people from all over the world for its unique approach. The carvings on the walls make it stand as an architectural wonder along with its rainwater harvesting system. This striking construction stands at the top of the Aravalli ranges and has a stunning view of Jaipur and beyond.
There’s a few restaurants up and around the fort, where you can enjoy delicious curry and naan while watching monkeys climb around the fort.