Jaipur had much to celebrate this week. The Kanvar Yatra and the Teej Festival coincided in an explosion of music and colour that saw the Pink City at its festive best. Natural Mystic intern, Hannah, went to join the fun.
My first taste of the festivities began within moments of leaving my hotel. As my rickshaw passed under the majestic Chandpol gate, entering the bustling bazaars of the walled Old City, I was confronted by a sea of orange. Saffron-clad men and women filled the avenue as they made their way, singing and dancing, to the Shiva temple. The spectacle was a representation of the Kanvar Yatra, an annual Hindu pilgrimage to the holy waters of the Ganges River undertaken by devotees of Lord Shiva. We came to a halt in the crowd and the next thing I knew, several henna-decorated, bangled hands were pulling me from the rickshaw and I was being invited to dance with the other ladies at the centre of the throng. The atmosphere of excitement was so infectious that I felt not at all self-conscious as I tried to keep pace with the beat being laid down by the drummers. The women clapped and twirled with gusto and confetti filled the air.
It was a fantastic introduction to the Rajahstani capital, which continued to live up to its flamboyant reputation as the day wore on. I spent the morning viewing relics of Jaipur’s regal past. The City Palace, a complex of colourful courtyards and grand buildings, is an island of calm at the heart of the lively Old City. The maze of astronomical instruments that constitutes the Jantar Mantar is a fascinating testimony to the advanced level of scientific knowledge in the late 18th century. However, the famous Hawa Mantal stole the show with its fairy-tale, honeycomb structure and pink standstone walls. You are transported back in time as you wander its breezy passages and peer out its latticed windows.
Jaipur’s famous Teej festivities kicked off that evening from Tripoliya gate. The festival commemorates Lord Shiva’s union with Goddess Parvati, whom is worshipped on this day by women seeking conjugal happiness. Women also rejoice the arrival of the monsoon, dressing up in green finery and sitting on flower-bedecked swings. Crowds in their thousands started arriving in Tripoliya bazaar at least an hour before the legendary procession was due to begin and the air buzzed with anticipation. At six o’clock exactly, the music began and the festival was truly underway. Kalbeliya, Algoza, Bahrupia, Gair and Chakri performers, three brass bands, over forty elephants, bullock carts bearing canons, cavalry horses and camels all featured. This really is a great one for the kids: children could barely contain their excitement as they were invited to join the dancers in the procession. The palanquin of Goddess Parvati provided the finale. Truly spectacular.
Between sightseeing, I escaped the heat and bustle at the tranquil Samode Haveli. A Natural Mystic favourite, this intimate heritage hotel features a stunning central courtyard, a mural bedecked dining hall and a huge turquoise pool. The perfect compliment to the lively city, guests can sip sherbat on the expansive Indian daybeds, unwind in the state-of-the-art spa or enjoy a cocktail at the poolside bar. The outstanding service ensures that your stay is a truly comfortable one.
Fancy a once-in-a-lifetime luxury trip to Jaipur? Check out the following section of our website: http://www.natmystic.com/tailor-made-holidays/india-holidays/rajasthan-in-style/