You welcomed us twenty-eight years ago and we return nostalgically to you. There has always been a fondness for the ‘pink city.’ As young travellers you offered us colour and mystery… the romance of a storied destination.
You are much busier now. Your Maharaja-designed 18th century streets are in constant motion; a stream of life and noise, of endeavour and exuberance.
Tuks, camels, cycles and bullocks, strain both people and cargo through lively streets. Monkeys scamper on ledges and peer through stamp-sized shutters. A procession; a swirl of a wedding marches past as a band trumpets, an elegant groom on his festooned horse – to the bride’s house he gallantly goes.
You still beguile and please with your facades, lattice work windows, your streets washed in soft shades of pinks, roses and salmons.
The signature Hawa Mahal, Palace of the Winds, is still your calling card. Evoking the richness of Maharajahs and Maharanis, it is a fine blend of Rajasthani and Mughal styles with miniature domes and delicate screens, all nine hundred and fifty-three – modest viewing galleries – for the ladies.
Moghul inspired archways, peacock doors and splashes of frescoes fascinate the eye. They are tributes to your past; of proud Rajput warriors, fairy-tale palaces and flourishing bazaars.
But your beauty is also in the finer details – bangles upon sparkly bangles, slipper-shoes of soft camel leather, bejewelled textiles and intricate block prints.
And perhaps just the simple – golden pomegranates on laden trees, toys of old newly discovered and heavenly corners to luxuriate within. We find divine comfort in the Samode Haveili…it becomes our haven.
It all feels like a past remembered – familiar yet newly captivating. We are entreated from all corners: to ride, to purchase, to visit, to partake, to view the beautiful.
Lemony and saffron turbans wrapped atop weathered faces hint at untold stories. Ladies primp and pose, tradition captured in cautious smiles. Young entrepreneurs bargain a good price and Mr. Chand’s outdoor photo studio recaptures us in monochrome memory. We still have the photo from years ago, we believe it was taken here. “Maybe me or my father,” Tikam Chand contemplates. “Yes still here, isn’t it?”
I am coaxed to an astrologer’s chair – this city is known for its mystic vibe of bespoke gems and stones, sage-like astrologers and stargazers. And for me a first. I don’t believe, but still…
“Sunrise and meditation is good for you. Maybe you think too much and please madam, you must wear white on Mondays. But good life, good marriage.
He doesn’t know that twenty-seven years of marriage has just been marked. Perhaps fittingly, on a postcard of the Hawa Mahal, my beloved wrote…
“We would never have imagined that our journey together would have taken us this far and into so many corners of the globe. Thank you for being my travel partner of nearly twenty-nine years – my past, my present, my future.”
And so dear Jaipur, the monsoon rains cooled as we traipsed barefoot on your ancient stone, welcome respite from your desert climate. We soaked up your enduring sites, luxuriated by candlelight and dined on fine Rajasthani cuisine. We weaved through your scented bazaars, climbed the heights of formidable forts and spied peacocks under the shade of ashokas.
Indeed more luxurious this visit – the backpacks have long been put away. Yet it was here those years ago, that our travels sparked a romance and now beckoned us to return. So with a fond farewell Jaipur, you will always be a jewel in our traveller’s souls…