We were sad to leave the national park, but early this morning we were on the road. The highway was good and we'd reached Jaipur by lunchtime.
After a quick lunch we were out and about again. We took a trip into the old city, or the 'pink city' of Jaipur. Actually, it's not pink but an attractive shade of terra cotta. As Jaipur currently holds the title of the most connected and 'smart city' in India the government has stepped in to both recognise this, and enhance Jaipur's position as a draw card for tourism. Accordingly it's refurbishing all the old city, installing a metro beneath it, and renovating all the facades as well as painting it a consistent colour. The result is amazing - and although many buildings we saw were still in a work in progress, this will be a stunning city in a couple of years time.
We went first to the ancient observatory. These enormous scientific instruments could, three centuries ago, tell the time (by its a sundial) with an accuracy of 2 seconds. We checked it out with our modern digital watches and can testify to its accuracy.
Alongside what westerners would consider 'proper' scientific instruments were those that could aid in establishing your correct horoscope. As the date, time and location of your birth is critical to the accuracy of any horoscope cast, these instruments were vital in ensuring your readings were accurate.
Later we explored the city royal palace of the Rajah of Jaipur. The present incumbent is only 21 years old and currently studying in New York. He's allowed a portion of his vast city palace to open to the public.
The wealth these Rajahs had at their disposal is incalculable - certainly the palace, its decorations, public areas and overall design were fascinating and magnificent.
Later still this evening we went to dinner. Cavan had organised to meet up with a friend from 48 years ago who had shared a portion of his life in Tehran in the 1960's.
Elderly man greeted elderly man, and their wives tentatively introduced themselves.
What a pleasure this evening was. Cavan and his friend recalled events and refreshed their memories of their long distant pasts and I was privileged to spend the evening with this charismatic and competent woman.
Any traveller embroigled in a foreign culture will testify as to how hard it is to enter another mindset. We can visit temples and stare at memorials, but unless we have teachers to interpret what we see, we remain illiterate.
I was fortunate to listen to this lady as she shared some of her India with me.
Truly, life puts us on unexpected paths, but the simple joy of this evening, spent in congenial company with intelligent, sensitive companions, will remain a highlight of our India trip. I only hope the friendship can develop and these lovely folk visit us in New Zealand.
Camel and cart
Main street, old city Jaipur
Sun dial at the observatory
Checking out my birth sign
Horse and carriage at the palace
The Maharajah’s palace
Block printing techniques
The palace of the winds
The Albert Hall in Japiur