Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Jaipur: Jantar Mantar

Jai Prakash Yantra
Jantar means "instrument" and Mantar is usually translated to "formula". "Jantar Mantar is loosely translated as "instrument for calculation".

One of Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh's interest was in astronomy. He kept his scientific interest alive by building solar observatories. The king has built five observatories, respectively in Delhi, Ujjain, Mathura, Varanasi and of course, Jaipur. Only the one in Jaipur is still operational, preserved since the first half of the 18th centure. That - was the one we went to.

The photo above is Jai Prakash Yantra. It comprises of two sunken hemispheres, mapping out the heavens. They are used to locate the position of stars based on two different coordinates measurements systems, the horizontal and celestial equatorial systems. This was believed to be invented by Jai Singh himself to verify the accuracy of other instrument in the observatory.

Ram Yantra
Next to Jai Prakash Yantra, one will find some vertical columns. The vertical columns support an equal number of horizontal slabs in two identical stone structures in this instrument. This structure is named Ram Yantra. They are used in complementary to each other. In the centre of each, there is a perpendicular rod of the same height as the stone structure. One can also see twelve stone triangles fixed to the ground. These stone slabs are divided up from 90 degree to 45 degrees. The circular wall is marked off from 45 to 0 degree. This is used in calculating the movement of the stars.

Samrat Yantra
Samrat Yantra, the largest instrument in Jantar Mantar, this sundial stood 27 meters high and could be used to tell time, both day and night with an accuracy of about two seconds. The difference of this sundial compared to the other sundials is the the stick (termed gnomon) that creates a shadow and a flat scale on which time is read. Samrat Yantra's gnomon is a huge triangle made of stone.

This sundial also used to forecats the ccrop prospects for the year. In this same observatory, Samrat Yantra has a small "little brother" - a smaller version of sundial named Laghu Samrat Yantra. This is used to calculate Jaipur's local time up to an accuracy of 20 seconds.

We had our guide with us at this location as well, and he was a strict guide, always giving us a time limit to 'regroup'. = ="

Side note: Have you heard of the 5:2 diet?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A rare warm day in spring

It is now spring in the down under, it usually still hovers around low 20 degrees celsius at maximum temperature. Today, is the rare warm day, highest temperature forecasted at 28 degrees, at 3 pm. It is now sitting at 24 degrees, and time to bring out the shorts! ^^

Side note: Now I just need a barbecue grill!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Jaipur: Amber Fort

Amber Fort or Amer Fort is located in Amer, 11 km from Jaipur is one of the major tourist attractions in Jaipur. Amber Fort was originally built by Raja Man Singh I and showcased Hindu and Rajputs elements. Raja Man Singh I was the King of Amber, which is now known as Jaipur.

As Amber Fort stood on a hill, there are a few options to reach the fort. The most exciting or touristy option would be by an elephant ride. We went by the boring car ride.

In my humble opinion, the most famous and beautiful hall in Amber Fort is Sheesh Mahal (Mirror Palace). The walls and ceilings of this hall was adorned with thousands of mirror tiles, with the flame of a single candle, upon reflected in the tiny mirror, the chamber transforms into a starlit sky.

Legend has it that this mirror hall was built by the king by for queen. It was said that in the ancient times, the queen was not allowed to sleep in open air. With this brilliant interior designing, the queen has her own indoor starlit sky.

Outside of this chamber, one can find a pleasure garden, Aram Bagh.

At another side of this garden, stood a remarkable three-storey gateway - Ganesh Pol. It was built in honour of Mughal Emperors under whom the Maharajas of Jaipur served in their army. It is to note that the gate is painted with vegetables dyes. Ornaments were embedded, so I think this make it last really long... until someone intentional dig those ornaments out of their place.

There's another beautiful garden in this fort - Kesar Kyaari or Mughal Garden. This garden - Kesar Kyari Bagh is named after rare saffron flowers once planted in its star-shaped flower beds. It is said that the climate nowadays no longer allow saffron plantation.

Side note: Where has all the time gone to?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Jaipur: The Pink City

Long, long time ago, more than a century ago, Jaipur welcomed the visit of Prince Albert and Queen Elizabeth II. It was said that to welcome the royal couple, buildings in Jaipur was painted in pink. From then onwards, Jaipur is known as the Pink City.

Our driver told us a similar version, however he didn't mention about pink paint, but more so the buildings in Jaipur are in russet brown stone. Somehow russet brown looked pink in the eyes of Prince Albert. Whilst russet brown is not pink, but I guess Russet Brown city isn't quite as catchy as Pink City. (Or does it look pink to you too?

Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan, founded by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II and Jaipur is named after him. We visited Birla Mandir on the day we reached Jaipur and the balance of places the next day. In order to appreciate the places a little better, we engage the service of a tour guide here as well. This guide has styled a moustache and has the stereotype look of villains in Tamil movies. :P

We stayed in Four Points Sheraton in Jaipur. There are some restaurants, both budget and higher end across the street from the hotel, and a supermarket next to it. Very convenient.

See the shop Kanha? We had dinner there. 
See through bathroom but rest assured, can be covered by curtain
We asked our driver for economical (read: cheap) and local place to eat, he introduced us to Kanha. We had thalis and both were less than Rs200. I thought I'll try a local dessert, some Indian sweet with vermicelli.

After dinner, we scouted out the supermarket next door to hotel and had an early night before painting Jaipur red. ;)

Side note: Posts on India travel makes me feel like having chicken masala. LOL

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Jaipur: Birla Mandir

Looking up to Moti Dungari fort
Birla Mandir or Birla Temple is a Hindu temple in Jaipur, located at the base of Moti Dungari hill. It is part of one of the several Birla Mandirs all around the country. This was essentially our first stop in Jaipur as we reached Jaipur in the evening. Our driver did make a stop in Albert Hall but it has passed the opening hour so we only visit it the next day.

Birla Mandir is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi and built in pure white marble. Photography is not permitted inside the temple.

Despite this is a Hindu temple, there are pictures and figures of religious saints, philosophers and historical achievers, like Socrates, Buddha. Here's one of Madonna with Christ.

There are many visitors to the temple, I am not really sure if they are tourists or locals who came for prayers. Some sat outside of the temple in the compound resting, and having a little chat.

Side note: I wish the bills are spread out!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

India: On the road to the Golden Triangle

I uploaded a picture on the route we took here, and Little P asked me, "Where's the triangle?"

So, here's another google map screen shot showing the Golden Triangle of India - Jaipur, Agra and Delhi. Of course, we did not back track to Jaipur, this is merely for illustration purposes. LOL. Sounds very much like an advertisement disclaimer.

The road trip from Udaipur to Jaipur is not short, it took more than half a day and highway in India is unlike the ones you see elsewhere. Likewise other roads or streets in India, one can still see cows sitting in the middle of the road, though we did see more trucks.

Encouraging drivers to give them a honk!
Our driver manoeuvred with super skills, avoiding cows and overtaking cars. As usual, I dozed off in no time though Little P stayed awake as she was in awe with our driver's superior driving skills.

We found the colourful decorations on the trucks very interesting, and our driver stopped by one of the many stalls which sell the truck decos for us. Yup, all these are for the trucks and some of the decorations are meant to ward off bad luck :)

Side note: Back to work, back to work...

Friday, August 22, 2014

Ph(f)oto Friday: Cargo Lorry

This was one of the lorry we saw on the so-called highway in India. Out of curiosity, we asked the driver what was the cargo. Have a guess?

Answer: Waste

Side note: Highlight the above space with your mouse for answer ;)