INDIA
2001


"In the Python's Grip"

Jaipur, Rajesthan State

 

Map of Rajasthan & Madhya Pradesh States, northwest India showing primary and secondary locations
(click on map for enlarged view)

Jaipur is the capital of Rajesthan state in the west of India. Founded in the 18th Century and, also known as the Pink City, it is a beautiful city surrounded by desert and semi-desert. One of my abiding memories of Jaipur was driving in or out of the historic walls in the early morning and watching the camel trains slowly come and go as they must have done for hundreds of years. There are many arcitectural delights including the imposing Hawa Mahal or Palace of the Breeze. Several of the buildings in Jaipur are listed as World Heritage Sites.

When we finally arose after our epic journey from the Chambal River we were greeted by a pair of snake charmers in the Rambagh Palace hotel foyer, working with a "Pakistan black" cobra (Naja naja) and an Indian rock python (Python molurus). These tourist snake charmers seemed very different to the poor rural snake charmers we had met in other locations.

Jaipur snake charmers with their charges

Whilst in Jaipur I was filmed driving an auto-rickshaw, very badly, and then journeying through the city on an elephant, an exercise that caused at least one accident as startled car drivers stopped concentrating on where they were going and knocked equally bemused motorcyclists into street-side stalls, spilling fruit and veg all over the road, to be pleasure of the elephant.

Riding an elephant through the streets and past the famous Hawa Mahal

We also visited the Galwar Bagh monkey temple where the director Hugo was keen to explore the reaction of Rhesus macaque monkeys (Macaca mulatta) to a python.

Galwar Bagh, the monkey temple near Jaipur
General views of monkey fun at Galwar Bagh
Rhesus macaque monkeys (Macaca mulatta) show their contempt for the film crew and the 'python'
Terry and Mark Stokes buying favours from monkeys with bananas
Terry and Hugo do a sound check Thomas and Pradeep prepare the 'python'

 

We obviously could not risk using a real python so our Producer Thomas, has arranged for a fake 3.0 m python (Python draftexcluderus) to be produced. My task was to drag the cloth python (which looked more like an anaconda), attached to a long length of string, past groups of monkeys and discuss their reactions on camera. The monkeys treated the 'python' with the contempt it deserved, ignoring it completely. Only one monkey even approached the 'python' flicks its tail and wandered off in distain. I think this is the singlemost silliest thing I did in four entire series' of O'Shea's Big Adventure. Even the resident monkey expert, Dr Reena Mather, avoided getting in front of the camera during the filming, and wisely so.

After two luxurious nights at the Rambagh Palace hotel we were off into the sticks again.