Travel always involves some type of ridiculousness. I step off the plane in India and instantly the smell of pollution grabs hold of my senses. The smell was toxic and would stick with me for the rest of my time in India.
It brought to mind a question that Sunita Narain asked Leonardo Di Caprio in National Geographic's new film, Before The Flood. It was an issue which I have seen asked before by leaders in developing countries and her specifically. The basic premise of her question is why should India or China take the lead on climate change when the US is the largest emitter and consumer of carbon.
I was a bit ashamed that he didn't respond with what my first thought was when I landed. The reason you need to take the lead is that your people are dying. The amount of pollution in the air is leading to problems right now. Their population is high risk for all type of respiratory diseases, and it is slowly killing them.
After traveling all over the world and seeing first-hand the ill effects of climate change, I do hope we stick to the Paris agreement and start to make the changes we desperately need. If we do not, this landing is going to be a lot harder than it needs to be.
I've been traveling for 24 straight hours on planes, and that will take it out of you. I am supposed to head to a hotel for five hours before I need to start driving to Jaipur. I cannot find the person that is going to pick me up from the airport, so I get a pre-paid taxi that says he knows where the hotel is.
The amazing race is a fun show to watch. The reason that teams traditionally fail is that their transportation screws up somehow. I've experienced delayed flights, snow storms that are the worst to hit Iceland in a quarter century, and general chaos while traveling, but I have never had a taxi lie directly to me about knowing where a hotel is when he doesn't.
Fifteen minutes outside of the New Dehli airport, and my taxi driver doesn't understand where he is going all of a sudden. He isn't hustling me for more money, he just simply cannot figure out where the hotel is. At four in the morning, I have to wait on the side of a road next to a back alley, for my original driver to come and find me to take me to the hotel. I was not pleased and not terribly happy with India at that moment.
It works out, and I complete the six-hour drive to Jaipur.
I am sleep deprived and exhausted, but we make a stop at the Amber fort right before we get into Jaipur and all of the weight of traveling is lifted off my shoulders. The fort itself was spectacular. It reminded me of a miniature Great Wall of China. Eventually I get inside and find the Hall of Mirrors, which dazzled and glistened in the sunlight. It reminded me why I travel, and that even if everything that can go wrong does, it all works itself out in the end.
Amber Fort or Amer Fort
Diwan-I-Am (Public Audience Hall)
Mughal Gardens & Sheesh Mahal (Hall of Mirrors)
Baradari Pavilion at Man Singh I Palace Square.
Female Royal Family Court Yard
Maota Lake and Kesar Kyari
Hawa Mahal, The Palace of Wind
Hawa Mahal is a palace in Jaipur, so named because it was essentially a high screen wall built so the women of the royal household could observe street festivals while unseen from the outside.
Govind Devji Temple
The temple is dedicated to Govind Dev Ji (Lord Krishna). This temple is among the seven temples of Thakur of Vrindavan including Sri Radhavallabh Ji, Shri Bankey Bihari Ji, Shri Govind Dev Ji and four others. The image of the deity (murti) was brought from Vrindavan here by Raja Sawai Jai Singh II, the founder of Jaipur. And this temple was built by Mughal Badshah Akabar. According to popular legend, Lord Krishna's image in the temple looks exactly like Krishna's form during his incarnation on Earth.
It is a great place to dive deeper into the Indian culture.
The Jantar Mantar monument in Jaipur, Rajasthan is a collection of nineteen architectural astronomical instruments, built by the Rajput king Sawai Jai Singh It features the world's largest stone sundial, and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The features here are quite interesting from a historical perspective. You'll also learn how important the celestial signs are in Indian culture.
Mubarak Mahal was built with a fusion of the Islamic, Rajput and European architectural styles in the late 19th century by Maharaja Madho Singh II as a reception center. It is a museum; a fine repository of variety of textiles.
This is where the royal family of Jaipur still lives.
Diwan-i-Am (Public Audience Hall)
This is one of the more stunning locations to photograph and if you're lucky enough to arrive early, it will be empty.
Birla Mandir Temple
This is a stunning place to visit, and one that you want to experience at sunset. It's definitely one of my personal favorites of Jaipur.
Jal Mahal, The Water Palace
You cannot miss this monument because you will be able to see it from the road when driving into Jaipur. The palace presents a great photograph opportunity and I would suggest heading there in the morning for sunrise to see if you get lucky with less wind!
- Canon EF 24-70mm ƒ2.8 L II USM Lens
- Canon EF 70-200mm ƒ2.8L IS II USM Lens
- Canon EF 11-24mm ƒ4L USM Lens
- Canon EOS 5DS R DSLR Camera
- Canon EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR Camera
- Your largest cost associated with travel in India is going to be the plane ticket. You can get 4/5 star hotels for next to nothing compared to the states.
- You do not need to tip a lot. Most people in India live off of extremely little and even 100 rupees can go the distance.
- Get everywhere early. There seems to be a similar path that most guides take going from each monument to the next. If you start this path earlier than anyone else (I would suggest around 8 to 8:30 as most monuments open at 9), you will be one step ahead of the crowds the entire day.
- Birla Mandir Temple wasn't on my tour guide's list of places to visit, but you need to make sure you go. The white marble is absolutely stunning at sunset.
- You need a wide angle lens to photograph Hawa Mahal, but also keep in mind that there will be weird shadows cast upon the building if you go too early in the day or too late. I had to visit it multiple times to make sure I captured it without a shadow.
- Jal Mahal is best at sunrise, sunset, or during the night. The key to capturing the reflection here, which I unfortunately didn't have time for, is to catch it when there is little to no wind. Traditionally the best time for that is going to be early morning.
- Head to Birla Mandir Temple for sunset. The glow the sun casts onto the white marble is breathtaking.
- Be wary, you aren't supposed to take photos inside of most of the temples.