JAIPUR

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Jaipur was the hypotenuse of the Golden Triangle, and the one that we had given the least thought to.  It was described as clean, but not too clean, big, but not too big…having fortresses, palaces, temples, mosques, and wide avenues, in short, everything that an indian city should have, and in easy proximity to the capital.  This description it sounded like a respectable redoubt of Indian burgherdom.  But this was unfair.  The city is princely, and the symbols of the old Rajput power still dominate the exquisitely jumbled old city.  It is a city of shopkeepers, and handicraft stalls stretch for countless blocks towards the walls of the City Palace.

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Since we spent only a night and Boxing Day in the city, we took in only the textbook sites, and this without the redoutable Amber Fort.  But, the city gave a pleasant account of itself.  The lanes, wider than those of other cities, being laid according to an eighteenth-century plan, were fine for enjoying the tumultuous traffic that can only be experienced as an idyll in southern Asia.  Beyond the rooftops were we were invited by a retiring priest, the city stretched out along palace towers and pinnacles to the dusty hills of Rajputana with its fortresses and redoubts.  The interior of this province was our next destination.

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As we headed through the stacks of weavers and cloth dyers towards the Jal Mahal, the faint din of Christmas music tussled with the strains of the adnan from a small courtyard mosque, and the Lata Mangeshkar’s upper octaves ricocheted against Burl Ives.  Christmas in India was decidedly festive, but the festival here was probably unphased by the dictates of the calendar.

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