A labyrinth of fascinating bazaars, opulent palaces and historic sites, Jaipur is often called the “Pink City” because its prominent buildings are washed in this color. Tradition and modernity exist side by side here. On its colorful streets, motorbikes jostle for space with camels, and turbaned village elders rub shoulders with youngsters in Jeans. Jaipur’s old walled area has the City Palace, an astronomical observatory and bazaars that sell everything from shoes to jewelry. Recent additions include a multi-arts centre, but the focal point remains the Hawa Mahal.
Sightseeing Places in Jaipur, Rajasthan
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, 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, 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 resembling 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.
A whimsical addition to Rajasthan’s rich architectural vocabulary, the fanciful Hawa Mahal or “Palace of Winds” was created in 1799 by the aesthete Sawai Pratap Singh. Its ornate pink façade has become an icon for the city. The tiered Baroque-like composition of projecting windows and balconies with perforated screens is five storey high but just one room deep, its walls not more than 20 cm thick. Built of lime and mortar, the structure was designed in this way to enable the veiled ladies of the harem to observe unnoticed the lively street scenes below. Dedicated to Lord Krishna, the Hawa Mahal seen from afar looks like the mukut that often adorns the god’s head. Visitors can climb up the winding ramp to the top, and a gateway towards the west leads into the complex.
The fort palace of Amber was the Kachhawaha citadel until 1727, when their capital moved to Jaipur. Successive rulers continued to come here on important occasions to seek the blessings of the family deity, Shila Devi. The citadel was established in 1592 by Man Singh I on the remains of an old 11th century fort, but the various buildings added by Jai Singh I are what constitute its magnificent centerpiece.
Legendary Jaigarh, the “Victory Fort”, watches over the old capital of Amber. One of the few surviving cannon foundries is located here. Its 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 has never been fired.
The forbidding hill-top fort of Nahargarh 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.
How to reach Jaipur
The airport is named Sanganer Airport. There are local flight links with Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, etc. and a solitary transnational flight to Dubai.
Well linked with Delhi, Agra, Mumbai, Chennai, etc.
A handy mode of transport is by road. Steady bus facility of AC and Deluxe Coaches are accessible.
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