JAIPUR, INDIA. Jaipur is in Rajasthan, the Land of the Kings, and India's most colorful state. Jaipur is home to the Pink City. Within the walled old city are three sights of primary interest to tourists: the Hawa Mahal, the City Palace, and the Jantar Mantar. The Hawa Mahal is a pink sandstone building built to enable the women of the royal household to view the city five stories below through numerous small shuttered windows. The City Palace, a blend of Rajasthani and Mughal architecture, is home of the Maharaja. Near the City Palace is the Jantar Mantar, an celestial observatory begun by Jai Singh in 1728. One of the most striking instruments is the 27 meter high sundial.
Jaipur also provides some welcome attractions outside of the Pink City. I got a 65 minute Ayurvedic (an ancient form of Indian herbal medicine and healing) head, face, and body massage at Kerala Ayurveda Kendra (700 rupees; $16). A similar massage back in the U.S. would run ten to twenty times this amount. Scented oils are expertly applied and massaged over you from head to toe by the masseur. In the end, hot towels are used to remove the oil. It was a fabulous and relaxing massage—worth every rupee. Nearby is the Raj Mandir Cinema. This is the place to see a Hindi movie in India. There is only one screen which seats 1500 people. I saw Rang De Basanti, a film about making a documentary of British India, with a subplot concerning the accident prone Russian MIG-21 fighter jet. It was a three hour film in mostly Hindi, with a 10 minute intermission halfway through. The film had a strong anti-government theme, which the Indian audience largely applauded.