Today was the Bubbie’s 70th bday extravaganza. We had a wonderful breakfast in the common room of our homestay – we have really loved Indian breakfasts so far. Erez was feeling under the weather, so he stayed behind in bed.
We headed to the Amber Fort first (some of our kids are having “Fort and palace Fatigue”) We drove driving by the Wind Palace – Hawa Mawal – the most photographed spot in Jaipur on the way. It is basically a facade that the Queens and their handmaidens used to sit behind to watch the proceedings in the streets, because people were not allowed to see them in public.
The Amber fort was pretty amazing – the inlay work and carvings were exquisite. The construction of this fort was from 1599 to 1667. There were Harem apartments for 12 queens and countless concubines.
One of the highlights was the mirror palace. It was a room that was completely covered by intricate mosaics with semi-precious stones and special curved mirrors. No photos we took could do it justice.
Here is a great description I found on an Indian historian conservation site:
“The reason behind why this mahal was made by glass because in ancient days the queen was not allowed to sleep in open air but she loved to see the stars while sleeping. So the king ordered his architects to make that kind of mahal which could solve the problem.And the architects built Sheesh mahal which was built with stones and glass and in night the reflection of two candles in glass looks like stars in whole room. And second reason was that for palace built. The King used to shift from Sukh Niwas to Sheesh Mahal in winter season. The ceiling mirror glass reflection of the candles keep the room warm. Now days entry in the Sheesh mahal is restricted however from the outside we can see the beautiful art work of the glass in the Sheesh mahal and with a flash light pointing to the ceiling we can easily see the stars in the morning “Din mai tare”.
After the fort we had lunch, and then did a drive-by for a photo op at the lake palace. Our guide Kush left us at that point and we met up with another guide named Ummed. He met us for a walking tour of the market and to learn about the kite flying culture in Jaipur.
On Jan 14th is the International kite flying festival in Jaipur, and little did we know that kite flying could be so intense. We were hosted by a family that owns a compound that includes a beautiful guest house and rooftop cafe. They explained that kite flying from the rooftops is a way for people to blow off steam as well as get some vitamin D after working all day. There are any different types of string, some are cotton, some are vinyl, and other have glass covered, “sharpened” string, so that their kites can cut other kites down. It is a bit crazy. We took turns flying kites off of their roof, and several times, a neighbours kite would come, and cut our kites down out of the sky. Teva was the one who kept encourage us to seek out other kites to cut down, and then actually succeeded in “defeating” a couple of other kites – some of the time, by complete fluke. It was lots of fun. Our hosts were very gracious, feeding us delicious hors d’oevres and refreshing drinks. If you are even in Jaipur, you should check out http://www.havelikalwara.com.
We finished off Bubbie’s birthday day with a special meal, home- cooked by our homestay hosts. They even made a cake and had sparkling wine to celebrate.
I asked Maxine if she ever imagined she would spend her 70th birthday in India on a rooftop flying a kite over the city at sunset…I think the answer is obvious.