India, Feb 2012
We decided to take a trip to India and visit Jaipur, Lucknow and Varanasi, after a few days shopping in Delhi.
So after arrival in Delhi, we stayed at a Homestay family with a family near Karol Bagh, which is a busy shopping area.
After Dilshad had her fill of shopping in Delhi, we flew to Jaipur, and took a taxi to our B&B, the Pearl Palace. Beautiful & Maharaja’ish type appointed rooms, with a nice rooftop restaurant in a sister hotel for breakfast. After settling into the hotel, we went with the same taxi driver to find a place to eat. Along the way, we passed several colorful processions, which the driver explained were wedding processions; apparently it was wedding season in Rajasthan :).
We stopped the taxi to take a few pictures; see below. We noticed some women who looked like men dressed as women asking the wedding party for money; apparently, transvestites make good money demanding money at weddings; otherwise, bad luck is cast on the marriage per superstition in the region. You can see some transvestites below. There were (hired) people who were carrying electrical lanterns along the processions to light up the way for the procession, and these lanterns were all powered by a generator in the back of a small truck that was trailing the procession. Interesting
At that point, the driver asked us if we wanted to go into one of these weddings and eat. He said it should be no issue for us i.e. we would not get evicted. Of course we agreed to this, and so the driver took us to a wedding reception where the wedding was to be held.
This was a grand place; very colorfully decorated and parked, and told us where to go. We proceeded with many other (invited) guests, and looked completely out of place in our casual clothing compared to the invited guests. we saw this gentleman who was apparently guarding the place, but he politely smiled, took pics with us, and invited us inside. Apparently, it seems that foreigners are considered good luck at weddings are are always welcomed, even when uninvited. Wow; I like this place 🙂 already
Inside, there was a huge open space which had a center stage and food stalls along all 4 walls; and literally hundreds of very well dressed guests. Food was being prepared fresh at each of the food stations and freely being served to the guests. The variety was different at each station. This was quite a spectacle. We must have stumbled into seriously rich family wedding event
After having some food here, and enjoying the music and the crowd, we decided to leave and head back to the hotel.
These were the lantern holders along the procession, who were also leaving when we left; after completing their job. Big difference between the stature of the grand wedding and it’s obviously well heeled guests, and these workers.
Along the way, we came across a much smaller wedding event; on a much “cheaper” scale. Driver asked if we wanted to visit and of course we said yes. We again were heartily welcomed inside, and went in and joined the smaller party for some (again) fresh cooked food in this event. This was much smaller and much less grand than the previous wedding, but still nice, warm and accommodating. We hoped we really brought both weddings good luck with our presence 🙂
Smalled wedding; fresh chappati’s being cooked on a tawa, and then on hot coals
Finally, late at night, we made our way back the hotel for some rest and relaxation. Next day was sightseeing and shopping.
The Hawa Mahal was built at the back of the Maharaja’s palace for the women of the court (harem?) to view the activity on the street below without being seen due to the lattice-work on the windows. The open structure allowed the breeze to come through and cool the place; hence the name Hawa Mahal or Palace of Breeze
Jaipur, Hawa Mahal
Jaipur fort as viewed from the Hawa Mahal
Jaipur home courtyard view; from Hawa Mahal
We also visited the Raj Mandir Cinema Theatre which is a very opulently decorated theatre and has become a tourist attraction. Only way to get in was to purchase the cheapest ticket for a show and see the place.