16th October 2014 – Jaipur, India
In a country where love meets music, it’s charm that guides us throughSolitude we attack, monotony we disdain, and romance we defend.In the midst of one billion people who are groomed on bollywood and hot tea,The snake charmer, carries the most charm. The photographer comes a close second.
India has never had a strong support system for backpackers. Which is why you will not find any backpacker hostels anywhere in the country. Yes, you will find cheap guesthouses, but not hostels. And if you are a backpacker, the difference is immense.
But I finally found my first hostel experience in India. Zostel Jaipur, where I stayed in, was a comfy place with dorms and a funky central area. Decked with beanbags and a psychedelic Rajasthani touch of wall art, this place had me meeting other like-minded travellers within 10 minutes of entering it. They are currently only in the major touristy cities like Jaipur, Agra and Varanasi. But the good news is that they are planning to expand their operations soon.
I stepped out early in the morning towards the old city, also called ‘pink city’. And you will understand why pink, as soon as you enter it. Everything is pink, from the giant entrance facade, to the different buildings on this route. There are many sights to see in this enclosed city, but I continued north. Towards the amazing Amber fort, which is actually more of a palace.
Amber has nothing to do with the colour actually. The fort is located in an outskirt called Amber, and hence the name. You need to walk up a series of steps to get to the fort, or alternatively, take an elephant ride to the top which costs 900 Indian Rupees. At the pace that the elephants were walking, I choose to go by foot instead.
Magnificent as they were, elephants are not the only animals inside the fort. Snake charmers lined up on many parts of the fort, playing their flutes to get the cobras do the shizzle. And some lucky tourists, like this guy in the picture, get to sit behind and pose with the snakes. Mind you, they are highly venomous, and it is only the flute that is keeping them occupied.
After Amber fort, on the way back to Jaipur, one could stop at the Jaigarh fort, which has the world’s largest wheeled-cannon, called the Jaya Vana.