Today was our day to hike. We didn’t know it when we woke up, but by the time the day was over we had hiked all over the place, and we had conquered some fears. We have been very sedentary for us.

Here are the shop names I was telling you about yesterday. This is the old part of Jaipur.

Another hazy day. This is the Amber Palace from across the lake.

To the left of the Amber Palace is Jaigarh Fort. There is a wall you can walk on that connects the two. The distance is 1 1/2 kilometers.

As we were standing there along came a snake charmer.

“Do we want to charm that snake?” he asked. Well at least one of us did.

And touch it, kind of – sort of. Honestly, I was too bothered by the sweaty turban to care about the venomous snake I was touching! LOL, what can I say, we all have our idiosyncrasies, and one of mine is getting other people’s sweat on me, Yuch.

Here he is trying to convince me to wrap it around my neck. I drew the line at that.

The night before we went to the Amber Palace we ate dinner with a South African couple, Charles and Carmine. We got to talking about the life of these elephants. Up until this time Sean and I had every intention of riding elephants into the Palace. Charles had observed these elephants and had also observed elephants in the wild in South Africa. He thought the elephants trekking up to the Amber Palace looked dead in the eyes. There went my dream of riding an elephant up to the Amber Palace. It is not easy being a bleeding heart when it comes to animals. There are all sorts of moral dilemmas to deal with. The snake for instance, I was told the snake had something done so it could not bite for 6 months. After 6 months it would be released back into the wild, and the handler would get another snake. One problem is my Hindi is extremely limited and many of the people I am asking questions to have limited English. My guess is the story of what happens to the snake is not nearly as happy as that, and that is not that great. Charles was right too, the elephants looked unhappy.

At the Amber Palace we saw crumbling ruins of old parts of the palace in areas where people were living in more modern buildings.

This was taken from the wall of the Amber Palace. The Palace itself is not crumbling away, it was very nice to visit. These Palaces are more complexes than just Palaces. They are different than European Castles. The rooms are smaller in the Palaces we have seen in India, and there are many more of them. There are a lot of separate apartments, probably to accommodate all the family groups and members living together plus all their servants. There are lots of open Courtyards and places to observe the countryside.

Many of the walls, inside and out, have decorative painting on them.

This is the garden at the Amber Palace.

The bathrooms and toilets were interesting

This is a deep bath with 4 seats. There was hot and cold running water coming into here. There was a setup that created steam which could also be pumped into the baths.

These were used as urinals.

Here is a view from above. I am not sure how this works. You defecate in the squares, but what is the pot for? Maybe it had water and a ladle in it to use to wash the feces down.

Jaigarh Fort, above, is old and beautiful. It seems that they are slowly restoring the Palace. One day these walls will be pinkish like the front part. Inside the doors there are warrens of rooms.

Here is a restored or maybe just better preserved part. Jim and I like the older, less restored parts just as much.

There were bits of glass and semi precious gems inlaid into the walls here

You have to remember to look up. The decorative work in the palaces and temples we have been in extends to the ceilings.

Many of the rooms open up to small rooms on the outside that have this stonework surrounding them. This extends from floor to ceiling without a break.

Here is a view from one of these outer alcove area, looking into another alcove area. Do you see the beehive at 11 o’ clock.

This gives you some idea about what it is like inside looking out into a courtyard. It is room after room of this.

We are deciding if we want to hike up to Jairgarh Fort, behind us in the distance. We all dressed a bit warmly for the temperature. It was chilly this morning.

One final photo of the Amber Palace before descending into the tunnels. Many of the palaces and forts of India were built with extensive tunnel systems to hide the movement of people, including troops.

We came up out of the underground tunnel to this corridor. It is still protected here because these are the tops of hills.

This is a photo of the pathways looking down from the side of Jaigarh fort. The walled walking path is the one we came up into when we exited the tunnel.

Check out the monkey jumping. There were monkeys everywhere. I decided to get over some of my fear. As my dad would say, I got back on that horse and rode it. I tossed cashews to the monkeys after we passed.

On our way to Jaigragh Fort we came to a fork in the path. We could take a broad path with no stairs up or we could walk up all these stairs. We immediately chose this path.

We met some boys from Mumbai on the way up.

The stairs took us to a dead end. We could not get into the fort without going back down and up the other path. We actually liked this better. We did not realize there were these paths up to the outside of the fort towers. We love castles, forts, and palaces. I read a lot of history, and I like to stand in the old places and imagine what might have been and what it was like. I am not sure what these paths are for. as we walked don, we discussed the possibilities that occurred to us, but they were all guesses. This path was built for a purpose, what it was… leaves so much to the imagination. I loved it! Any time I explore something new like this it gives me more to think about.

We are headed down. I carry a limited number of shoes with me on trips like this, but still, flip flops were not ideal today.

This is the front side of the Amber palace. One of those meshed rooms above is where I took the photo of the beehive.

We are leaving through one of the elephant gates. The elephants only work in the morning. I hope their afternoons are filled with joyous companionship.

This is a view looking back at the Palace

This is a view in the other direction. It was taken at a weird angle so you could follow the wall along the ridge line. Do you see it? As I was leaving I thought this palace and the town that surrounded it reminded me of the book, Inkheart, by Cornelia Funke. It was a really good book.

These building are right outside the palace. That is the palace in the background.

Now we go to the Monkey Temple. But Sodi, I don’t want to go to the Monkey Temple… Unfortunately I don’t know how to tell our driver this in Hindi.