The Pink City
A LABYRINTH OF fascinating bazaars, opulent palaces and historic sights, Jaipur is often called the "Pink City" because its prominent buildings are washed in this colour. Tradition and modernity exist side by side here. On its colorful streets, motor bikes jostle for space with camels, and turbaned village elders rub shoulders with youngsters in jeans. Stone guardian Jaipur's old walled area has the City at Hawa Mahal Palace, an astronomical observatory and bazaars that sell everything from shoes to Jewellery . Recent additions include a multi-arts centre, but the focal point remains the Hawa Mahal.
Places to Visit in Jaipur
Govind Dev Temple
The presiding deity of this unusual temple is the flute playing Lord Krishna (also known as Govind Dev). The image of this God originally came from the Govindeoji Temple in Brindavan. It was brought to Amber , then the capital of Jaipur's ruling family, in the late 17th century to save it from the iconoclastic zeal of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.
Chaugan Stadium Brahmpuri.
This large open area near the City Palace derives its name from chaugan, an ancient Persian form of polo played with a curved stick. The area was once used for festival processions and wrestling matches, as well as elephant and lion fights. Today the stadium, with its viewing pavilions, is the venue for the famous Elephant Festival held at the same time as the Holi celebrations.
A whimsical addition to Rajasthan's rich architectural vocabulary, the fanciful Hawa Mahal or "Palace of Winds" was erected in 1799 by the aesthete Sawai Pratap Singh (1778-1803), Its ornate pink facade has become an icon for the city. The tiered Baroque like composition of projecting windows and balconies with perforated screens is five storeys high room deep,with walls about 20 cm (8 inc)thick. Built of lime and mortar, structure was designed in a way to enable the veiled ladies of the harem to observe unnoticed the lively street scenes below. Dedicated to Lord Krishna, the Mahal, seen from afar , looks like the mukut (crown) that often adorns the God's head.
Government Central Museum
Also known as Albert Hall,this grand, multi-layered museum was designed by Sir Samuel Swinton Jacob, a master of the Indo-Saracenic style. The museum's ground floor displays decorative shields, embossed salvers in Jaipur's famous metal ware, and some good examples of local glazed pottery. A 9 m (30-ft) long phad (painted cloth scroll), depicts the life of Pabuji, a 14th-centUlY folk hero. The first floor has a fine collection of Mughal and Rajput miniature paintings. The museum's greatest treasure, one of the world's largest Persian garden carpets (dating from 1632), can be seen on request in the Durbar Hall.
City Palace Museum
OCCUPYING THE HEART of Jai Singh II's city, the City Palace has been home to the rulers of Jaipur since the first half of the 18th century. The sprawling complex is a superb blend of Rajput and Mughal architecture, Jaipur's coat of arms with open, airy Mughal-style public buildings leading to private apartments. Today, part of the complex is open to the public as the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum, popularly known as the City Palace Museum. Its treasures, which include miniature paintings, manuscripts, Mughal carpets, musical instruments, royal costumes and weaponry, provide a splendid introduction to Jaipur's princely past, and it's fascinating arts and crafts.
OF THE FIVE Observatories built by Sawai Jai Singh II, the one in Jaipur is the largest and best preserved; the others are in Delhi , Ujjain, Mathura and Varanasi. A keen astronomer himself, Jai Singh kept abreast of the latest astronomical studies in the world, and was most inspired by the work of Mirza Ulugh Beg, the astronomer-king of Samarkand. Built between 1728 and 1734, the observatory has been described as "the most realistic and logical landscape in stone", its 16 instruments resemble a giant sculptural composition. Some of the instruments are still used to forecast how hot the summer months will be, the expected date of arrival, duration and intensity of the monsoon, and the possibility of floods and famine.
Each floor of this seven storied palace extravagantly decorated and has a specific name according to its function. The palace is closed to the public.
Jaipur district, 15 km (9 miles) SW of Jaipur
This colourful town is famous for its blockprinted cotton. Today most of its printers and dyers belong to a guild, with retail outlets selling reasonably priced fabrics. Sanganer owes its success as a printing centre to a rivulet whose waters have a mineral content that fixes dyes. Sanganer is also a centre of handmade paper, and of ]aipur's renowned, hand-painted Blue Pottery, of which vases and tiles with delicate Persian, Turkish and Indian designs are made. Tucked away in the old walled town is the impressive llth century Jain Sanghiji Temple.Sanganer is now a busy suburb of Jaipur city and houses the city's airport.
Jaipur district. 10 km (6 miles) E of Jaipur
This picturesque gorge cradles Galta Kund, an 18th-century religious site with two main temples and a number of smaller shrines. Its seven sacred tanks, fed by natural spring water, are said to have curative powers. Two pavilions on either side of the complex have well-preselved frescoes. The Surya Temple, high on the ridge, provides spectacular views of Jaipur.
Sisodia Rani ka Bagh
Jaipur district. Purana Ghat. 6 km (4 miles) E of Jaipur.
This terraced garden was laid out in the 18th century for Sawai Jai Singh II's second wife, who married him on the condition that her son would succeed to the throne. To escape the inevitable palace intrigues, the queen moved to a more private home outside the walled city. Her little double-storeyed palace, decorated with lively murals, is surrounded by beautiful gardens. It is today a popular location for Indian films.
Jaipur district. 40 km (25 miles) E of Jaipur.
Ramgarh is the site of one of the earliest Kachhawaha fortresses. The fort was built by the dynasty's founder, Duleh Rai (r.l093-1135), who also built a temple dedicated to the goddess Jamvai Mata, now visited by thousands of devotees. Ramgarh Lodge, on the northern bank of a man-made lake, is an elegant French villa-style hunting lodge built in 1931 for the Jaipur royal family. It is now a pleasant heritage hotel with one of the best polo grounds in the country.
Jaipur district. 9 km (6 miles) NW of Jaipur
The forbidding hill-top fort of Nahargarh ("Tiger Fort") stands in what was once a densely forested area. The fierce Meena tribe ruled this region until they were defeated by the Kachhawahas. Its fortifications, strengthened by Sawai Jai Singh II, were subsequently expanded by successive rulers. Madho Singh II added a lavish palace called Madhavendra Bhavan for his nine queens. Laid out in a maze of terraces and courtyards, it has a cool, airy upper chamber from which the ladies of the court could view the city. Its walls and pillars are an outstanding example of arayish, a form of plaster work that is hand polished with a piece of agate to produce a marble finish.
Jaipur district. 8 km (5 miles) N of Jaipur
The marble cenotaphs of the Kachhawaha kings are enclosed in a walled garden just off the Amber road. This area was chosen by Sawai Jai Singh II as the new cremation site after Amber was abandoned. Ornate carved pillars support the marble chhatris erected over the platforms where the maharajas were cremated. One of the most impressive cenotaphs in the complex is that of Jai Singh II himself. It has 20 marble pillars carved with religious and mythological scenes and is topped by a white marble dome. The most recent cenotaph was erected in 1997 in memory of Jagat Singh,the only son of Sawai Man Singh II and Gayatri Devi.
Jaipur district. 8 km (5 miles) N of Jaipur.
During the monsoon, water fills the Man Sagar lake, and the Jal Mahal ("Water Palace") seems to rise from it like a mirage. Built in tlle mid-18th century by Madho Singh I, it is inspired by the Lake Palace at Udaipur, where the king spent his childhood. It was later used for royal duck-shooting parties, and a variety of water birds are still seen here. The terraced garden, enclosed by arched passages, has an elegant semi octagonal tower capped by a cupola in each corner.
Jaipur district. 12 km (8 miles) NW of Jaipur
Legendary Jaigarh, the "Victory Fort", watches over the old capital of Amber. One of the few surviving cannon foundries is located here. It's most prized possession is the monumental 50-tonne Jai Van, cast in 1726 and said to be the world's largest cannon on wheels. Ironically, despite its impressive size, the cannon have never been fired.