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Jaipur – Festival of Colors

April 1, 2011 by Chelsea Slone

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Jaipur, commonly known as the Pink City, was the first planned city in all of India and originally known as the Capitol of royalty. However, now it is know as the Capitol and largest city in the India state of Rajasthan. The Pink city nickname was orginated from the story that in order to welcome a high British official to Jaipur in the mid 19th century the people painted the town a terra-cotta color to represent a color popular in Britain at the time. When the official arrived into the city he announced to the people how he loved the beautiful pink city. They assume he was colorblind, but regardless his skewed observation became the city’s permanent nickname from that moment forward.

Our time spent in Jaipur was filled with all kinds of surprises … From getting the incredible opportunity to celebrate the Indian Color Festival with a local family to taking a visit to a nearby Indian hospital. At least, I can say we had our share of exciting and dramatic events.

(In case you haven’t heard of it, there is a little sickness they call “Delhi Belly” in India, and it refers to foreigners getting sick from something they ate while traveling India. Apparently its a common incident… Foreshadowing.)

(

In case you haven’t heard of it, there is a little sickness they call “Delhi Belly” in India, and it refers to foreigners getting sick from something they ate while traveling India. Apparently its a common incident… Foreshadowing.

)

After arriving in Jaipur late afternoon Tyler and I had planned to spend the rest of the night figuring out our trip to Japan that was scheduled in less than a week. We knew we had our work cut out to canceling our trip there and finding last minute deals traveling elsewhere. After checking into our room I decided to lay down feeling a little under the weather while Tyler went to find an internet cafe and get started on the planning. I promised I would be there as soon as I could, but after thirty minutes I realized that wasn’t going to happen. I emailed Tyler praying he had internet by now and told him to come back to the room as soon as he could I was really really sick. He came up to the room to find me in quite possibly the worst shape of my life. I’m usually dramatic, but I think this time he knew I wasn’t exaggerating at the least. Considering we’re in India we had no idea how to call an ambulance or a doctor, and with the language barrier we knew going through the hotel was the safest bet. They called for a doctor to come, and promised it would be within thirty minutes. By the time the doctor arrived I could hardly lift my head from the floor and I was falling in and out of conscientiousness. I vaguely remember the doctor saying “we need to get her to the hospital now” and “we’ve got to hurry” multiple times. The next hour was horrifying, but thankfully they quickly got me to a nearby hospital, hooked me up to an IV, and gave me numerous shots nursing me back to stableness. After two days in the hospital and twenty IV’s (not kidding) we found out it was E. Coli. Needless to say, I lived on packaged crackers for the rest of our time in India!

The morning I was released from the hospital was beginning of the Indian Color Festival. The holiday is observed all over India and celebrates the harvesting of winter crops as it welcomes the beginning of spring. The first and most celebrated day of the festival is called Holi Day, its the one day of the festival where the entire town closes their doors for work and celebrates the holiday. The celebrations on Holi Day begin early in the morning with indian sweets, alcohol, and colored powder called gulal. Gulal is sold on every corner in the streets for weeks before the festival. When the day arrives the gulal is used to throw on anyone and everyone you see. Many people will also make gulal water balloons adding to the fun of the celebrations. The gulal mixed with water will last on their skin up to three weeks. Tyler and I were invited to a families home to celebrate Holi Day. Upon arrival to their home we were showered with color and welcomed with “Happy Holi’s” from everyone. In India when you are invited to someones home they will first give you a tour, and the women will show the female guests all of their nicest jewelry. The men offered us sweets and Tyler drinks, while the women prepared food and sat aside from the men on the porch. After leaving their home we drove down the streets to watch the hundreds of people stumble home or attempt to drive on their motorcycles covered in color. There wasn’t a single person in sight who hadn’t participated in the celebrations!

Since spending most of our time in Jaipur in the hospital we were able to do all of the things we had planned but we were still able to visit the Amber Fort and Jantar Mantar. The Amber Fort, made of white marble and red sandstone, was the capital of the Kachhwaha until 1727 when Jaipur was named the capital. The exquisite beauty found in the inside is least expected from it’s outside appearance, but the intricate detailed walls and ceilings portray the royalty that was once living in the quarters. An interesting aspect of Amber Fort is the wall surrounding it, which surprisingly resembles the Great Wall of China.

Jantar Mantar, a world heritage site, is a collection of architectural astronomical instruments built by King Jai Singh II in 1727. The literal meaning derived from the words Jantar Mantar is “calculation instrument”. The site contains fourteen major geometrical devices measuring time, predicting eclipse, tracking stars’ location as the earth orbits around the sun, ascertaining the declinations of planets, and determining the celestial altitudes and related ephemerides. Each element is a fixed and focused tool with the largest being ninety feet and used to tell the time of the day and latitude in Jaipur. The large scale which the instruments have been built upon is alleged to increase their accuracy. As it is a well known tourist attraction it is also still used today by local astronomers to predict the weather for farmers.

While Delhi is known for their fine rugs and Jodhpur is known for their textiles, Jaipur is best known for their jewels. Tyler and I took the opportunity to visit a local jeweler, where they walked us through the process of cutting, polishing, and setting different stones. Each individual step was done by a different person and the working areas were aligned in a row in the order of how the jewels are perfected. Aside from the stone process we were also shown cases of loose and set stones available to purchase. Even though we weren’t there to buy it was still fun to see and try on the unique star sapphires and star rubies you don’t see at home.

Even though our few days in Jaipur were less than ideal, I was just happy to be ok in the end. Plus being able to experience The Color Festival on a local level makes for an incredible day we won’t forget. So farewell to Jaipur and off to the moment we’ve all been waiting for… The Taj Mahal!

Alvida,

T+C

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