November 3, 2013
Today we were beginning our week long trip outside of Delhi. Our first destination is Japiur, a city in Rajasthan, where we would be celebrating the Diwali holiday. The trip took about 6 hours and when we arrived we were all excited to explore. The group split up and I chose to go to Galti Ji, the Monkey Temple. After driving under the city gate our auto stopped and was surrounded by monkeys, cows, pigs and goats. Ahead of us was a steep hill, and after buying some nuts for the monkeys, we started our ascent. We hired two “protectors” to tell us about the temple, the monkeys and make sure none attacked us. The Monkey Temple was awesome and it was thrilling to get so close to the monkeys and feed them. We witnessed monkey fights and saw baby monkeys clinging onto their mothers for dear life. After the temple we went back to the guesthouse and freshened up before dinner and the Diwali celebrations. When we were finished eating we all went up to the roof and spent hours setting off sparklers, fireworks, and firecrackers. I have never been much of a firework person but I was very excited to play around with the shutter speed on my camera to get some good shots of the lights and everyone dancing around. The entire city was setting of fireworks and we heard them going off until the early hours of morning. November 4, 2013
Today might have been the craziest touring day of my entire life. In twelve hours, we managed to see all of the most incredible sights in Jaipur. We met up with our auto driver Shake at 9:30 and he first took us into the Pink City to the Hawa Mahal, The Palace of the Winds. The Wind Palace was constructed in 1799 and has five floors containing 365 windows. The Palace is on the main city street and was built so that the royal woman could look out and observe everyday life without being seen from below. There are 365 windows so the royal women could sit at a different window each day of the year and the windows allowed for the strong winds to pass through the structure and keep the royal women cool. Our next stop was the Jantar Mantar Astronomical Observatory which exceeded my expectations with flying colors. I was blown away by the precise and genius tools. We got a new guide when we were inside and most of the stuff he told us just went right over my head. Jantar Mantar was built by Sawai Jai Singh, a Rajput king who built five facilities in different locations around India and this is the only working observatory. They had fourteen major devices for measuring time, predicting eclipses, tracking stars, and determining altitudes. All of the tools are fixed and work off of the suns shadow. The Jaipur Jantar Mantar has the world’s largest sundial measuring 90 feet high and has a two second accuracy, as determining the time of the day. It was so cool seeing how far the shadow moved just in the couple of minutes we were watching it! We then made a quick stop at Jal Mahal, the Water Palace, located in the middle of the Man Sagar lake. The palace is closed to visitors so we just had to look at it from ashore. After a quick lunch we moved on to visit a textile factory and market. The factory was closed but a man showed us how the products were made with stamps and used the stamps inverse to color objects in. He then showed us tons of products from bed spreads, to table cloths, purses, pashminas, and custom made suits. We all walked out with bags in our hands and our wallets a little lighter. Our next stop was to ride some elephants! Katie, Ben and I were on one and Cole and Sammy on another. The elephant ride was through the a small village area in the city and it was awesome passing by people homes while being at the level of their roofs. Everyone in the village was excited to see white people and they gathered around as we walked by and ferociously waved at us as we passed. After our elephant excursion we took a quick stop at the Kanak Vrindavan, a beautiful garden with simple fountains surrounding the greenery. Our final stop of the day was Nahargarh Fort, also known as Tiger Fort, to see the sunset. The fort is located in the Aravalli Hills and overlooks the pink city. On the way up the mountain, we got stuck behind a tour bus, which was having a very difficult time navigating through the narrow roads and avoiding the cattle in the street, that a huge amount of traffic formed behind it. When we got up to the fort we did not have time to go inside so instead we went on a short hike along the wall and found a spot we could climb up on and enjoy some snacks while looking out on the city. The view was fascinating and we ended up staying for hours just watching homes light up and fireworks go off around the entire city.
November 5, 2013
This morning we had to get back to some class work and we started off the morning with a fun little quiz. Yes, I am being sarcastic. We then had a visitor Paul Suit come and talk to us about his involvement in Made By Survivors. “Made by Survivors is an international nonprofit and social enterprise which employs and educates survivors of slavery and people at extreme risk, including many women and children living in extreme poverty.” Their program recruits survivors of slavery and provides emotional treatment, education, housing, and employment for women. Made by Survivors pays their employees’ fair wages enabling them to support themselves and often allows these women to make more money than their male partners. 100% of Made by Survivors profits are given back to the rescue, education, housing and healthcare of the women. We took an academic break and went out for an excursion to a Jain Temple, Albari Mosque and ended at Amber Fort and Palace. The fort is located on a hill and overlooks the Maota Lake. When we walked up the hill we saw a beautiful elephant in the courtyard and then walked up the sandstone stairs to enter the Palace. My favorite part of the palace was the Sheesh Mahal (mirror palace) covered with mirror mosaics from floor to ceiling and all across. After the palace we had some free time before dinner and our night session to plan for Bal Ashram.
November 6, 2013
On our way to Bal Ashram we made a quick stop at Jaipur Rugs, a handmade carpet company founded and run by a Babson alumni’s father. Jaipur Rugs has structured it’s business model to cut out the middlemen and instead directly works with the weavers. Japiur Rugs uses weavers in rural areas around India and goes as far as installing the looms in homes, educating weavers, installing electronic systems to track a rugs process and compensates weavers when rugs are complete. The average time to complete a rug is 3-4 months but some of the higher quality rugs take as long as 8 months. Jaipur Rugs is currently working with 40,000 artisans in 600 villages and 5 states in India.