After touring the Taj Mahal, we continued our journey, completing the second leg of what would eventually become a triangle with corners in New Delhi, Agra (with the Taj Mahal) and Jaipur. We were looking forward to visit the castles Jaipur is famous for.
We arrived in Jaipur at dawn, the rush hour had just set in. I helped our driver to find our hotel, which was on the other side of the city. Driving through rush hour in Jaipur is quite the experience! Anyway, we found our hotel without getting lost. The hotel, even though cheap for Western standards at $17/night turned out to be absolutely gorgeous! We were all looking forward to have a long shower!
Getting Lost in Jaipur
The breakfast was as tasty as the hotel beautiful, and we eventually were ready to take on the craziness of Jaipur. Encouraged by the navigation experience of the night before, I took on the task of helping our driver to help find the first castle we wanted to visit. Nothing is easier than that, I thought. I entered the name of the castle into Google Maps, switched it into navigation mode, and, voilà, we had a route to follow! Boy, was I wrong! Our “route” took us into increasingly sketchy areas even our driver was hesitant to enter. The roads got so narrow that our car would not go through them. People shook their head when they saw us, indicating “no, don’t go in there!”. And the “Indian Chaos” all around us. Behind these roads a mountain towered, and I figured the castle would be on top of that mountain. Eventually, it dawned on me: Google wants us to hike up that mountain to reach the castle! Our driver must have had the same thought, and he stopped to ask how to get to our destination. Well, we learned that THIS was not the way! We had to leave the city heading north.
After this minor screw up on my side we were finally on the CORRECT way to the castles. My navigator pride was severely impacted, but I swallowed my pride.
Soon we passed by a lake with an adorable looking castle right in the middle (seen at the top of this post). Our driver told us that this was Jai Mahal. First I thought he was kidding. It reminded me of how every city in Germany has an October Fest, even though the real one is of course in Munich. But then I remembered that Mahal means palace in Hindi and Jai turned out to mean water. So we were looking at the Water Palace. We stopped to take photos, and our friends found a camel and couldn’t resist to hop on.
The Castles of Jaipur
We eventually made it to our first castle. The castles of Jaipur are actually very close to each other, all in the same mountain range north of the city. That’s why I can’t remember anymore, which castles we actually ended up visiting.
When I entered the second castle, a guard approached me and started explaining things to me. I let it happen, but when we were done he wanted the ridiculous amount of 10 Euros or so. I gave him a lot less than that and told him to take it or leave it.
A Hurried Way Home
Since I needed to catch a flight at 11 PM in New Delhi to travel on to Thailand we had agreed to start our ride home no later than 3PM. 3PM turned into 4PM and I was a bit worried that I would miss my flight. Soon the night would set in, which makes driving in India even more of an adventure. We stopped at a hotel to have dinner, and I was able to get my first Indian food, which I enjoyed tremendously. Closer to New Delhi traffic would get increasingly dense, but it never completely broke down, neither did our car. So with the stars that well aligned for me I made it to the airport just in time to get my bicycle out of the luggage storage at the airport and check into my flight to Bangkok, Thailand.
My first trip to India was only a short 3 days, but know I will be back. India is a LOT rougher than Thailand and traveling in India can be quite stressful, but it’s also one of the most exotic and interesting countries on the planet.