There is an unmistakable air of whimsy mixed in with historic royalty in Jaipur. It was evident the day I arrived as the evening sky was buzzing with kites, leftovers of the prior week’s Kite Festival. Easily mistaken for birds, some of these kites would eventually land in trees and electrical lines adding to the colorful landscape that is India.
Glittering sunlight dampened by the dust give the city an earthy amber tone, though it’s nickname “Pink City” comes from the buildings being painted pink in anticipation of the Prince Albert’s arrival more than one hundred years ago. Somehow the nickname, like the pink terracotta walls, has stuck.
Jaipur may not be one of the largest Indian cities, but it could easily be one of the busiest in terms of tourism. With its many forts and historic sites celebrating the kingdom of Rajasthan, it’s hard not imagining what life was like centuries ago. I couldn’t help thinking that when I came across a small doorway hidden amongst the chaos of tourists at Amer Fort. Built in the sixteenth century along a mountain ridge, the fort has several courtyards and pavilions connected by underground tunnels. Could this doorway lead to secret passage?
Jaipur is a known hub for artisans and handicrafts and you would be remiss not to take advantage of the shopping. Textiles of cotton and silk, as well as woodwork and blue pottery can be found at many local shops and boutiques.
To try my hand at block printing, I went Studio Bagru for a workshop. It was there I met Jeremy Fritzhand, an American expat who is passionate about the traditional methods of block printing and provides a workspace for designers and artisans to come together to keep this centuries old tradition alive.
As I leave the Pink City, with an extra suitcase filled with souvenirs, I carry with it just some of the magic of Jaipur. It’s this connection to the past that is leading it gallantly into the future.