colourful and vibrant capital of the State of Rajasthan is popularly known
as the 'Pink City' because of the pink-coloured buildings in its old city.
it sits on a dry lakebed in a somewhat arid landscape, surrounded by barren
hills surmounted by forts and crenellated walls. The city owes its name,
foundation and careful planning to the great warrior-astronomer Maharaja Jai
Singh II (1693-1743). In 1727, with Mughal power on the wane, Jai Singh
moved down from his hillside fort at nearby Amber to a new site on the
plains. He laid out the city, with its surrounding walls and rectangular
blocks, according to principles set down in the Shilpa Shastra, an ancient
Hindu treatise on architecture. It is one of India most well planned cities
with wide straight avenues, roads, streets and lanes in a grid system.
walled old city is in the northeast of Jaipur, while the new parts are
spread to the south and west. The main tourist attractions are in the old
city. the principle shopping centre in the old city is the Johari Bazaar
(Jewellers Market). There is a timeless appeal to Jaipur's colourful bazaars
where one can shop for Rajasthani handlooms and trinkets. Beautifully laid
out gardens and parks, attractive monuments and marvelous heritage hotels
are worth admiration. Not to mention the ambling camels and cheerful people
in multi-hued costumes who make a trip to the pink city a memorable one. The
Jaipur Vintage Car Rally held annually in the month of January has become a
big draw for car lovers, sports lovers, vintage beauty lovers and tourists
alike. A keenly contested event, this rally is an inimitable display of
well-maintained cars of yesteryears.
Hawa Mahal -or the Palace of Winds, built in 1799 is
the major landmark of Jaipur. This 5-storey building that overlooks the main
street of the old city, is a stunning example of Rajput artistry with its
pink semi-octagonal and delicately honeycombed sandstone windows. It was
originally built to enable the ladies of the royal household to watch the
everyday life and processions of the city.
Palace Complex -located in the heart of the old city, the City Palace
occupies a large series of courtyards, gardens and buildings. The palace is
a blend of Rajasthani and Mughal styles. The sons of the last Maharaja and
his family still reside in a part of the palace. Before the palace proper is
the Mubarak Mahal or Welcome Palace built in the late 19th century by
Maharaja Madho Singh II as a Reception centre for visiting dignitaries. It
now forms part of the Maharaja Sawai Mansingh II Museum, containing a
collection of royal costumes and superb shawls including Kashmiri pashmina
(goat's wool). Other exhibits include armory of Mughals and Rajputs
including swords of different shapes and sizes with chased handles, some of
them inlaid with enamel and embellished with jewels and encased in
Other interesting features of the complex
are the Diwan-I-Am or the Hall of Audience, with its intricate decorations
and manuscripts in Persian and Sanskrit. The Diwan-I-Khas or Hall of Private
Audience, with a marble-paved gallery and the exquisite Peacock Gate in the
Chandra Mahal courtyard. Outside the buildings are kept enormous silver
vessels in which the former Maharaja used to take the holy water of the
Ganges on his trip to England. The complex also has an Art Gallery with an
excellent collection of miniature paintings, carpets, royal paraphernalia
and rare astronomical works in Arabic, Persian, Latin and Sanskrit, acquired
by Maharaja Jai Singh II to study astronomy in detail.
Mantar - located next to the entrance to the City Palace is this
Observatory, built by Maharaja Jai Singh in 1728. Jai Singh's passion for
astronomy was even more notable than his power as a warrior. This is the
largest and best preserved of the five observatories that he built. The
others are at Delhi, Varanasi and Ujjain. The fifth, the Muthura observatory
is destroyed. The complex is a collection of curious instruments, each
having a specific purpose such as measuring the positions of stars,
altitudes and azimuths and calculating eclipses. The most striking
instrument is the sundial with its 27m high gnomon.
Devji Temple -is the most popular spire-less temple of Jaipur dedicated
to Lord Krishna. It is located in the central pavilion of the Jai Niwas
Garden to the north of Chandra Mahal. The image of the presiding deity
(originally installed in a temple of Brindavan) was reinstalled here by
Maharaja Jai Singh II as his family deity.
about 100m above Jaipur city to the east is an ancient temple dedicated to
the Sun God. A deep temple-studded gorge stands behind the temple and there
are good views over the surrounding plains. Pavilions and holy kunds
(natural spring and reservoirs) along with lush landscape make it a
Museums & Galleries -there are a
couple of interesting museums and galleries in Jaipur. The Central Museum,
housed in the architecturally impressive Albert Hall in the Ram Niwas Public
Gardens has sections on natural history, tribal wares, dioramas depicting
Rajasthani dances, decorative arts, costumes, and musical instruments. The
Museum of Indology is an extraordinary private collection of folk art
objects and other bits and pieces of interest. There is everything from a
map of India painted in a rice grain to manuscripts (one written by Mughal
Emperor Aurangzeb), tribal ornaments, fossils, old currency notes, clocks
and much more. Near the Ram Niwas Public Gardens, in an old theater is
Jaipur's Modern Art Gallery. The Juneja Art Gallery has an excellent
collection of contemporary paintings.
-located 11km north of Jaipur, this was the ancient capital of the
Jaipur State. Construction of the fort-palace was begun in 1592 by Maharaja
Man Singh, the Rajput commander of Akbar's army. It was later extended and
completed by the Jai Singh before the move to the plains. The fort is a
superb example of Rajput architecture, stunningly situated on a hillside and
overlooking a lake, which reflects its terraces and ramparts. The Fort is a
beautiful complex of palaces, halls, pavilions, gardens and temples.
Centuries of disuse have not withered their pristine beauty. Notable
structures include the Diwan-I-Am (Hall of Public Audience), a pillared hall
with latticed galleries. The Jai Mandir or Hall of Victory is noted for its
inlaid panels and glittering mirror ceiling. The Sukh Niwas or Hall of
Pleasure has an ivory inlaid sandalwood doorway. The Shila Mata temple has
the image of the patron deity Kali, a form of goddess Durga. The temple is
still in use. The best way of experiencing the majesty of the Bygone era is
by taking an elephant ride to the top of the fort.
The city of
Amber sprawled below the Fort, once a settlement of nobles, craftsmen and
common folks, is now mostly is ruins. The remnants of its rich past are the
beautifully carved and planned Jagat Shiromani Temple, a Krishna temple
associated with Meerabai, an ancient temple of Narsinghji and a magnificent
step well, Panna Mian-ka-kund.
Jaigarh - located near Amber, this imposing
fort built in 1726 by Jai Singh was opened to the public in mid 1983. The
fort was never captured and hence has survived virtually intact through the
centuries. Its splendour can be seen in its palaces, water reservoirs,
gardens, puppet theatre, several temples, a granary, an armoury, a well
planned cannon foundry, the Diwa Burj watch tower and Jaya Vana, the giant
canon. It offers great views over the plains from the tower.
-also known as the Tiger Fort, overlooks the city from a sheer ridge to
the north. Located about 8km from Jaipur, the fort was built in 1734 as a
sentinel to the Pink City. Although much of it is in ruins, the lovely
buildings added by Sawai Ram Singh II and Sawai Madho Singh II provides
interest to the fort.
Royal Gaitor -is the site of the
cenotaphs of the royal family and is located just outside the city walls.
The cenotaph of Maharaja Jai Singh II is particularly impressive.
-located about 16km south of Jaipur, this town is entered through the
ruins of two tripolias or triple gateways. In addition to its ruined
palaces, Sanganer has exquisitely carved Jain temples. the town is noted for
its hand made paper and block-printed fabrics.
Samode - located
about 40km north of Jaipur is a small village nestled among rugged hills
dominated by its famous and beautiful Palace . although strictly speaking,
it was not owned by a ruler but a nobleman. This palace was owned by the
Rawal of Samode. The highlight of this building is the exquisite
Diwan-I-Khas, which is covered with original paintings and mirror-work. The
Palace has been rebuilt and renovated and provides a fine example of the
Rajput Haveli architecture. The sleepy village, with its local artisans
producing printed cloth and glass bangles, nestles within its old walls. The
palace has now been converted into a heritage hotel.
Itinerary: DELHI / MANDAWA / BIKANER /
JAISALMER / JODHPUR / JAIPUR / AGRA / DELHI
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