Ch. 32, a Luncheon at the Maharani’s Palace
Atithi Devo Bhawah (Consider the guest as God)—from ancient Hindu scripture
When the Maharaja of Jaipur heard that Edward, Prince of Wales, was going to visit his city in 1853, he decided to roll out the red carpet, Indian style. To wit: He ordered the entire city painted the color of Indian hospitality—pink. At the time Sawai Ram Singh ordered the redecorating, Jaipur was under the protection of Great Britain, so it is well that the Maharaja showed his hospitality so remarkably.
And pink it remains today, by law. Own a building within the old walled city and it must be pink.
Today, the Pink City is our destination. We will have lunch at the Maharani’s City Palace. Jaipur has grown far beyond the ramparts and fortified gates (all pink) of the old city, and our coach drives through the streets outside them until we arrive at one of the seven gates, which stands wide open to all.
|This lady is eating breakfast.|
|As a street dog waits hopefully for a bite, I catch the lady's eye and motion with my fingers to my mouth and point at the dog, asking that she feed him. She smiles and nods. We drive on.|
We drive along the gridded streets of this well-planned city which was founded in 1717, and acknowledged as the best planned city on the Indian subcontinent. When we arrive near the City Palace, Dinesh gives us time to explore several of the museums on the grounds.
|One of seven fortified gates into the old city.|
I make a fast circle through the arts and crafts building, and go looking for the military armaments museum. I wind up lost again, climb a narrow stairwell that reeks of urine and has suspicious stains in all the corners. I was pretty sure this was moisture seeping from the cement or stone.
Eventually, I find the right place, wander through the exhibits, then go back to the courtyard to people watch.
|My ticket gives me entrance to the various museums.|
|The presence of these costumed men were arranged by Vantage, but they still wanted tips.|
|Made of colored rice and marigolds.|
An elephant arrives. Turns out, it’s for us. The elephant and a group of musicians escort us to the palace gate where two ladies adorn us with necklaces.
First, we assemble in a beautiful dining room where family portraits adorn the furniture.
Then, into the palace.
After a tour through part of the palace, we are escorted to the lawn where an elaborate luncheon is served.
|Our path is lined with marigolds.|
|Detail of one of the tablecloths.|
|Appetizer, seafood "tots".|
|Appetizer, fried ground lamb with mint chutney.|
|Grilled fish with lemon butter sauce.|
|Mugh Shahi Korma--chicken in yoghurt with spices|
|Laal Maas--lamb curry|
|Methi Mungodi--small pasta with moong lentils|
|Deewani Paneer--fresh cheese in sauce|
|Subz Biryani--rice with assorted veggies|
|Daal Hariyali--I'm not sure what this is. Daal or dal means lentils, and hariyali means green, so perhaps this is lentils with spinach and somehow it turned red.|
|My very reasonable plate.|
|My plate with naan.|
|The monkeys kept us entertained until the groundsmen ran them off.|
|Gulab Jamun--This seems to be a favorite dessert, soaked in sweet syrup. From Wikipedia: It is made mainly from milk solids, traditionally from freshly curdled milk. In India, milk solids are prepared by heating milk over a low flame for a long time until most of the water content has evaporated. These milk solids, known as khoya in India and Pakistan, are kneaded into a dough, sometimes with a pinch of flour, and then shaped into small balls and deep fried at a low temperature of about 148 °C. The balls are then soaked in a light sugary syrup flavored with green cardamom and rose water, kewra or saffron. These days, gulab jamun mix is also commercially available. Gulab jamun is often served at weddings and birthday parties.|
|This is how I knew what I was eating. Name cards at each chafing dish.|
|Black Forest cake--more frosting than cake, but good.|
|And live entertainment.|
Tomorrow, we leave Jaipur for New Delhi. We have a couple things to do first, though, not the least of which is facing the evil scale back in my hotel room.
I’ll miss this city.
|A parked cow.|
|Note the potty-training. No pants|