26 July 2009

Living like a Maharaja in Jaipur

We're in Jaipur now, the pink city, in the desert state of Rajasthan. even though it's still a big city, it has a decidedly mellower feel, prices are lower, touts are less pushy, and the people are friendly and colorful.
We just had dinner at our hotel, maybe the best meal we've had here so far, so yummy, AND there was live music and dance, traditional rajasthani performers. the musicians and dancers were all fabulous and we had a wonderful time.
On the way into town, we stopped at Fatehpur Sikri, an abandoned Mughul city built by Akbar the Great. (they abandoned it because it ran out of water.) At it, I had my first ever Muslim spiritual experience. There is a tomb for an old Sufi master; Akbar had no children and needed one for succession, so he went to this Master, and he said he would have a son if he built a city at Fatehpur Sikri. He did, and he did, so he gave the Master a resting place of honor. Because his prediction of Akbar's son came true, you can go there and make a wish. We offered a piece of fabric (which they subsequently use to make clothing for the poor of the village), placed rose petals on the fabric, and then tied a string around part of a carved marble screens (love those carved screens). Then we made 3 wishes. It was very nice. I wished everyone "salaam aleheim" on the way out, and got back "aleheim salaam" from the people. it was very nice to have such a positive experience of the Muslim religion, which gets such a bad rap in some circles. Muslims in India are generally as loving, friendly and peaceful as the Hindus or Jains or Sikhs are.
Tomorrow we tour Jaipur, including the Jantar Mantar, an early 17th century astronomical observatory built by Jai Singh, the founder of Jaipur. They have a 30 meter sundial, and a little room that allows a beam of light in exactly at noon every day (adjusted for latitude and time of year), just like that scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark. I don't know if we'll get in there, but the whole place is great, with dozens of stone instruments that measure the equinox, eclipses, appearances of venus and mars and the other planets, etc.
ALSO tomorrow i think we go on an elephant ride!!!!!!!!!

No comments: