JAIPUR THE PINK CITY
Planned by Vidyadhar Bhattacharya, Jaipur holds the distinction of being the first planned city of India. Renowned globally for its coloured gems, the capital city of Rajasthan combines the allure of its ancient history with all the advantages of a metropolis. The bustling modern city is one of the three corners of the golden triangle that includes Delhi, Agra and Jaipur.The story goes that in 1876, the Prince of Wales visited India on a tour. Since the colour pink was symbolic of hospitality, Maharaja Ram Singh of Jaipur painted the entire city pink. The pink that colours the city makes for a marvellous spectacle to behold. Jaipur rises up majestically against the backdrop of the forts Nahargarh, Jaigarh and Garh Ganesh Temple.Jaipur traces back its origins to 1727 when it was established by Jai Singh II, the Raja of Amber. He shifted his capital from Amber to the new city because of the rapidly-growing population and an increasing water scarcity. Noted architect Vidyadhar Bhattacharya used the established principles of Vastu Shastra to build the city.
PLACES TO VISIT AND EXPLORE IN JAIPUR
1. Amer Fort:
Amber (pronounced Amer) is at a distance of about 11 kilometres from Jaipur. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it was the bastion of the Kachwahas of Amber, until the capital was moved to the plains, to what is today Jaipur. The palace, located in craggy hills, is a beautiful melange of Hindu and Mughal styles. Raja Man Singh I began construction in 1592 and the palace, which was built as a strong, safe haven against attacking enemies, was completed by Mirja Raja Jai Singh. The contrast between the harsh exterior and the inviting interior couldn’t be more surprising. Made entirely of red sandstone and white marble, visitors are left spellbound by the magnificence of the palace that utilities carvings, precious stones and mirrors. The splendour of the palace is enhanced by the breath-taking vista of the Maota Lake in front. The palace is nearly seven centuries old and has a legendary past. Originally a small structure that the Rajputs won from the Meena tribes, it was later transformed into the grand Amber Palace.
2. Hawa Mahal:
Hawa Mahal, literally the Palace of Winds, was built in 1799 by the poet king Sawai Pratap Singh as a summer retreat for him and his family. It also served as a place where the ladies of the royal household could observe everyday life without being seen themselves. This unique five-story structure is a blend of Hindu and Islamic architecture, and the exterior, with its small latticed windows (called jharokhas), resembles the crown of Lord Krishna. The windows also serve as an air-conditioner of sorts, blowing cool air throughout the palace, making it the perfect retreat during summers. Built from pink sandstone, the Hawa Mahal is Jaipur’s iconic landmark and visitors can view its complete magnificence from outside, from across the road. However, it is also possible to climb right up to the top for a wonderful view from the windows. Today, the Mahal is maintained by the Archaeological Department of the Government of Rajasthan and also houses an archaeological museum in the courtyard.
3. City Palace:
Located deep within the walled city, the City Palace Complex was conceived and built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, the founder of Jaipur. A beautiful fusion of Mughal and Rajput architecture, the palace is still home to the last ruling royal family which lives in a private section of the palace. Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II is credited with building most of the structures, but it was expanded upon by later rulers as well. The City Palace Complex includes the Mubarak Mahal (the palace of reception) and the Maharani’s Palace (the palace of the queen). Mubarak Mahal now houses the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum and displays a vast and unique collection of royal costumes, delicate Pashmina (Kashmiri) shawls, Benaras silk saris, and other dresses with Sanganeri prints and folk embroidery. The clothes of Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh I are also on display. The Maharani’s Palace, surprisingly, has an interesting display of very well-preserved Rajput weaponry, some dating back to the 15th century. Other than the arms, the palace is adorned with beautiful paintings on the ceiling that are well-maintained.
4. Jal Mahal:
One of the most wonderful sights in Jaipur is the beautiful Jal Mahal or Lake Palace. The light, sand coloured stone walls and the deep blue of the water make for a wonderful contrast. The palace appears to float in the centre of Man Sagar Lake, where its magnificent exteriors can be enjoyed by tourists.
5. Nahargarh Fort:
Nahargarh Fort sits proudly on a ridge of the Aravalli Hills, creating an impressive northern backdrop to the city of Jaipur. It was constructed during the reign of Jai Singh in 1734, and was later expanded in 1868. Nahargarh, which means abode of tigers, was a formidable barrier, defending Jaipur against attacking enemies. Within its walls, the fort houses Madhavendra Bhawan, the summer destination for the members of the royal family. Built by Sawai Madho Singh, the palace has 12 matching boudoirs for the queens, at the head of which is a suite for the king. They are all connected by corridors decorated with delicate murals. Even today the palace is a favored spot for local picnickers. The fort looks brilliant when floodlit at night. Overlooking the city, it presents a glittering view of the city lights.
6. Nahargarh Biological Park:
Nahargarh Biological Park, a part of the Nahargarh sanctuary is located about 12 km from Jaipur on the Jaipur-Delhi highway. It encompasses a large area of 720 hectares and is situated under the Aravalli range. The Park is famous for its vast flora and fauna, and its main aim is to conserve it. It also doubles up as a great place to educate people and conduct research on existing flora and fauna. At Nahargarh Biological Park, ornithologists can expect to see over 285 species of birds, of which, the most popular is the white-naped tit, which can only be found here. When you visit the Park, make sure you also head to Ram Sagar, which is a famous among bird watchers and makes for a great spot to catch different varieties of birds. While here, you can stay at well-equipped and famous places such as Ganga Vilas, Gopal Vilas and Lalit Vilas, which were famous with the maharajas of the yore as hunting lodges. The Nahargarh Zoological Park is also worth a visit and houses animals such as Asiatic lions, Bengal tigers, panthers, hyenas, wolves, deer, crocodiles, sloth bear, Himalayan black bear, wild boar, etc.
The zoo is open from 15th March – 14th October between 8.30 am to 5.30 pm and from 15th October – 14th March between 9.00 am to 5.00 pm. It is closed on Tuesdays so make sure you plan your visit accordingly.
Ticket Cost- As Applicale
7. Jaipur Zoo:
Located at a walking distance from the ‘Albert Hall Museum’ in Jaipur, the ‘Jaipur Zoo’ also known as the ‘Zoological Garden’, is a famous tourist attraction, especially amongst kids. Spread across a sprawling area of 33 acres, the Zoo was established under the rule of Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II in 1877. Home to various species of mammals, birds and reptiles; you can spot tigers, panthers, cheetals, hyenas, spotted deer and a variety of colorful birds including white peacock, parrots, babbling lorry and other migratory birds. The crocodile breeding ground in the Zoo is one of the best in the country and is a huge crowd puller. Another interesting attraction of the Zoological Garden is its museum exhibiting the unique wildlife of Rajasthan. All in all, a great place to spend half a day amidst tranquil environs and natural greenery. Kids, nature lovers and bird watchers will definitely have a memorable time observing the animals and birds here.
8. Jantar Mantar Observatory:
Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Jantar Mantar in Jaipur is considered to be the largest of the five astronomical observatories built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, the founder of Jaipur. It contains sixteen geometric devices, designed to measure time, track celestial bodies and observe the orbits of the planets around the sun. It also houses the Interpretation Center that helps the tourists to understand about the working principles & chronology of the observatory.
9. Chokhi Dhani:
Located at a distance of 20 km. from Jaipur, ‘Chokhi Dhani’ is an ethnic village themed resort that was established to preserve the art and ethnicity of vibrant Rajasthan. Visited by thousands of tourists every year, this is a great place to get a glimpse of true Rajasthani culture. Always beaming with an aura of festivity where you can indulge in camel and elephant rides, watch heart-rendering acrobat performances, dance with Rajasthani folk dancers, enjoy a colourful puppet show, get an insight in your future by a palm reader, try your hand at a dart game, take a romantic boat ride on the ‘Tal Talaiya’ village lake or relish a sumptuous and authentic Rajasthani meal – Chokhi Dhani will never leave you disappointed. For an incredible shopping experience, head to ‘Kalagram’ or the ‘Artisans Village’ inside the complex where you can shop for Rajasthani handicraft items, ethnic jewellery, traditional tie-n-dye fabric and much more. The Chokhi Dhani resort also offers its visitors with options to spend a night in village houses made of mud and hay, equipped with all modern amenities. A stay in these huts is a lifetime experience giving you a feel of a pure village life. With a soothing ambience, plethora of entertainment activities and mouth-watering Rajasthani cuisine, a visit to Chokhi Dhani is much recommended for every tourist in Jaipur.
10. Colorful Bazaar:
No trip is complete without indulging in the local shopping experience. ‘Johri Bazaar’ is a shopper’s delight where you can continuously go on shopping for the ethnic ornamental silver, gold and gemstone jewellery of Rajasthan. ‘Gopalji ka Rasta’ is a narrow street in the Johri Bazaar famous for its jewellery adorned with meenakari work. Don’t forget to drop by at the famous ‘Laxmi Mishthan Bhandar’ to give yourself some rest and to relish on the famous Kachoris of Jaipur. If you are looking for traditional Jaipuri quilts, bed spreads and cushion covers with popular Sanganeri prints, ‘Bapu Bazaar’ is the best area to explore. ‘Tripolia Bazaar’ is another great market that specializes in brassware, lac bangles, bandhni tie-n-dye fabrics, rugs and carpets. For a wide variety of Marble handicraft items, head towards the ‘Chandpol Bazaar’. Traditional Jaipuri ‘Jootis’ await you at the ‘Nehru Bazaar’ bustling with its wide collection of colourful mojris.