Jaipur, India

We've now seen orange, red and black carrots (at bottom).

Revered cows have the run of any street.

One of India’s many holy men

Mothers and children in a rickshaw

One of Rajasthan’s traditional dresses

Hand-embroidered and mirrored details of a Rajasthan skirt

Sireh Deori Bazaar

Roof-top architecture

Pretap Singh was a devotee of Krishna and dedicated Hawa Mahal to him. Some say the structure looks like the crown worn on Lord Krishna’s head.

The Baroque-styled, ornate Hawa Mahal remains open for the public to climb to the top of the five floors for a view of Sireh Deori Bazaar below.

Finished in 1799, the showpiece of Jaipur – Hawa Mahal (or Palace of Winds) – remains the top attraction.

Hawa Mahal: built for the covered women of Pratap Singh’s harem. The one-room deep, tiered balconies and protruding windows allowed these women to watch the lively street scenes and state functions without being seen.

Jaipur is known for locally produced blue pottery traditionally in a blue and white floral pattern. But with the influx of tourists, many other patterns have evolved.

21 Jan 2001 – Driving on dismally maintained, narrow, bumpy, potholed, crowded roads sometimes causes enormous stress in my shoulders. While in Jaipur, my stone shoulders, plus several local ads plugging The Kerala Ayurvedic Health Center led me there. A young 20-something doctor took my pulse and prescribed oil, herbs and massage to alleviate all stress. One can only hope….

Pizichil is the therapy that most impressed me. About four to five liters of medicated oil, “selected according to the body constitution” is poured over the entire body, while light massage is administered by two attendants. Reputedly, this aids the skin, muscles and nervous tissues and rids of metabolic wastes through the skin, also retarding the aging process and relieving rheumatic and joint pains. If only this could be true.

Upon entering the treatment room, not anticipating Elizabeth Arden décor, but neither expecting a dented, tin pot warming oil on an old hot plate, I found a long, narrow wooden table without cushion. One of the two female attendants told me to disrobe and I felt a bit uncomfortable as they watched, even though they were about to massage every area of my body.

Then I moved up onto the hard, black table where the two women performed a glorious 30-minute, deep massage with oil. Then administering Njavarakkizhi therapy, they used using heated cotton pouches filled with herbs soaked in oil rubbed rigorously along my neck, shoulders and back for about 10 minutes. This calmed and soothed, but I doubt the therapy “enhanced physical consistency and reinforced nerves, relieved sports injuries and joint pains”, as the center’s literature suggest.

By now a third woman had entered the steamy room preparing and heating the liters of camphor oil, which would soon be poured and massaged over my body, front and back. What an experience I would repeat again and again! Using heated towels dripping in oil, the massaging women covered my body with oil and as soon as a towel lost any heat, the third woman made another almost burning one available for my body. Four magical hands worked knots, kneaded spots and rubbed muscles. So much oil surrounded me that for a few fleeting moments I felt no table under me. My feet and shoulders absolutely adored the layers and layers of liquid offering me relaxation and restoration. I was doused in oil for 20 minutes and I loved it.

When the two women completed the heavy oil treatment, I realized the third woman preparing the towels in warm oil also had been disposing of it, since little of the 4.5 liters remained on the table. The two massaging women used steaming towels to remove most of the oil remaining on my body and one even combed out my extremely oily hair.

After dressing and feeling a bit sticky in my clothes, I gave each woman 200 rupees, only about US$4 but a large tip in this part of the world. The women showed outright joy. The treatment total was 2800 rupees (less than US$60), a steal for a rare experiences. And, walking out of the therapy clinic, my shoulders felt soft as putty.


Hawa Mahal