Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Jewel in the Crown; Buying Gems in Jaipur Is a Rite of Passage for Any Glamorous Traveller. Annabel Rivkin Joins the Gold Rush

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Jewel in the Crown; Buying Gems in Jaipur Is a Rite of Passage for Any Glamorous Traveller. Annabel Rivkin Joins the Gold Rush

Article excerpt

Byline: Annabel Rivkin

Driving in India is not for the faint-hearted. No one indicates, they just honk the horn to declare intention. Potholes abound and bulbously laden camel carts lumber along the dusty, litter-filled track where a hard shoulder might be. Brightly tasselled, painted and overloaded lorries choke and roar their way down motorways that sometimes come to an abrupt end amid roadworks and you find yourself bombing the wrong way down the highway. But I loathe flying, particularly on little planes, so Greaves (a locally plugged-in, high-end yet unflashy tour operator) gave us a tiny white car and a rather dear driver to get us from Delhi to Agra to Jaipur and back again.

I was determined to get to the Gem Palace in Jaipur. I love jewellery but I don't really have any. I notice other people's, I cut designs that I admire out of magazines with some idea that I might get them copied one day, but I can't afford London prices and, even if I could, would I? You can't scrimp on proper jewellery and there always seem to be things I need more than diamonds. This means I am not truly glamorous. Never mind.

On the way to Jaipur we stopped for a night in Agra, a dirty place with no infrastructure, a great deal of congestion, open sewers and little to recommend it nowadays beyond that 'teardrop on the face of eternity', the Taj Mahal. The Oberoi Amarvilas is the best hotel in the city and you are guaranteed a view of the pearly dome from your bedroom window.

Visit the Taj at dusk and at dawn and you may cry. This is the culmination of the Mughal obsession with architecture. The undiminished gleam of poetic perfection. Built by Shah Jahan as a tomb for his favourite wife Mumtaz, who died bearing their 14th child, the Taj Mahal has come to symbolise immortal love. Some say that Shah Jahan eked out his final days gazing dolefully at the Taj and pining. Others say that his death, aged 74, in 1666 was brought about not by grief but by an overdose of the 19th-century equivalents of cocaine and Viagra: opium and aphrodisiacs. In India, it seems, there are many sides to many stories.

We hit the road again for the six-hour drive into Rajasthan towards Jaipur. We drove through small towns with colourful little markets selling gladioli, fruit, generators, fried food, rice and saris. We headed into rural India where flat green fields are punctuated with the bright blossom of women at work. India is brutal but hopeful. For every abused mule there's a haughty, treasured camel. And for every desperate child there is a crowd of playful little cubs, rollicking their way home from school. You can't want India to be anything other than it is. And what it is is changing. Ravenously, ruthlessly, it is devouring opportunity. If you want the Raj, rent a DVD.

So to Jaipur and the Gem Palace, a jeweller that has served lovers of sparkle since the days of the Mughal emperors. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.