As I mentioned before (about two months ago), India is a difficult place for me to blend in. I must note now, that in Jaipur, I was never happier to be a tourist. As you do in India, we had our own car and tour guides for each day here. This feels like a fancy way to get around for sure.
At Amer fort, I did what felt like the most touristy thing ever: rode an elephant to the palace gates. It was uniquely Indian and cheesy and weird and I loved it. I have a lifelong love affair with Elephants and had certainly never rode one for such a distance. Lolling from side to side, elephant transport may be fit for kings, but is hard on the back. These elephants were brightly decorated, well trained, and seemed happy from what (extremely little) I know about elephant behavior.
Built in 1592, this expansive palace was home to many rulers and spans four km. Each layer yielded interesting Hindu architecture, amazingly detailed paintings, and finally an area decorated with tiny inlaid mirrors, built to reflect the carpets in what must have been dazzling displays of color.
In the city of Jaipur, we also visited Jantar Mantar, home of a collection of astrological instruments. I don't mean a tiny astrolabe, I mean huge instruments. A sun dial among the world's largest which can tell time with up to two second accuracy. Instruments that predict eclipses and seasons. Ones to help you figure your astrological signs. Most completely out of my realm of understanding. But very cool either way. These are all so young, built in the 18th century.
Right across the street is the City Palace. Once and current home to the Maharaja of Jaipur, (the royal family has no political power, but still exist) this palace is pretty cool. My favorite part were two enormous (the world's largest, in fact) sterling silver vessels, made for Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh II (take that, boring names!). He was a devout Hindu who only wanted to drink water from the Ganges river. These vessels were made to transport water for him on his trip to England in 1901.
The city of Jaipur (population ~4 million) is beautiful to look at. All of the 'downtown' buildings are a bright terracotta color, painted to welcome visiting British Royalty. The color stuck, and the city is known as the city of welcome. And the city is known as the city of welcome. (that's for you!)
The city is in the state of Rajasthan, and well known for its textiles; block printed sheets, clothing, and wool rugs. In a very out of character and touristy move, I am now the proud owner of one of these rugs. It's pretty awesome I must say and it's not every day one can buy the genuine article.