JAIPUR: THE PINKCITY
The picturesque capital of Rajasthan, Jaipur is colour washed pink – colour associated with hospitality in Rajput culture.
Built in 1727 A.D. by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, Jaipur displays a remarkable harmony and architectural splendour. The ancient heart of the Pink City still beats in its fairy-tale palaces, rugged fortresses perched on barren hills and broad avenues that dot the entire city. The only planned city its time, Jaipur is encircled by a formidable wall.
A young Bengali architect, Vidyadhar Bhattacharya formalized the city's plans in a grid system. The wide straight avenues, roads, streets, lanes and uniform rows of shops on either side of main bazaars were arranged in nine rectangular city sectors (Chokris), in accordance with the principles of town planning set down in the `Shilpa Shastra' - an epochal treatise on the Hindu architecture.
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 marvellous heritage hotels, once the residence of Maharajas, are worth admiration. Not to mention the ambling camels and cheerful people in multi-hued costumes that make your trip to the pink city a memorable one.
In the heart of the old city is the former royal residence built in a blend of the Rajasthani and Mughal styles. The carved arches are supported by grey-white marble columns ornate with floral motifs in gold and colored stones. Two carved elephants in marble guard the entrace. The retainers whose families have served generations of rulers serve as guides.
The palace houses a museum with a superb collection of Rajasthani costumes and armory of Mughals and Rajputs including swords of different shapes and sizes withy chased handles, some of them inlaid with enamel and embellished with jewels and encased in magnificent scabbards.
The palace 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 Sawai Jai Singh II to study astronomy in detail.
A stone observatory. Largest of Jai Singh's five remarkable observatories. Its complex instruments, whose settings and shapes are scientifically designed, represent the high points of medieval Indian astronomy.
The most striking of these are the Ram Yantras used for gauging altitudes.
Built in 1799 A.D., the Hawa Mahal or
Palace of Winds is a major Rajput landmark. This five storey building along the main street of the old city is in pink splendor with semioctagonal and delicately honey combed sandstone windows.
The monument was originally conceived with the aim of enabling ladies of the royal household to watch the everday life and royal processions of the city.
Govind Devji Temple:
The most popular spireless 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 patron deity- Govind Devji, originally installed in a temple of Vrindavan, was reinstalled here by Sawai Jai Singh II as his family deity.
Swargasuli (Isar Lat):
The highest tower dominating the sky line on the western side of the Tripolia Bazaar. It was built by Sawai Ishwari Singh in 1749 A.D. to commemorate a grand victory.
Ram Niwas Bagh:
A lush spacious garden with a zoo, an aviary, a greenhouse, a herbarium, a museum and popular sports ground.
It was built by Sawai Ram Singh II in 1968 A.D. as a famine relief project. The Albert Hall – fine example of Indo-Sarcenic style of architecture designed by Sir Swinton Jacob, was opened later with an exquisite collecton of sculptures, paintings, decorative wares, natural history specimen, an Egyptian mummy and the celebrated Persian carpet.
Recently, the Rabindra Manch with an auditorium, a modern art gallery and an open air theatre, has been added to promote cultural events.
Pretty dolls from various countries are on display in the compound of the school for deaf and dumb children, near the Police Memorial.
BM Birla Auditorium:
The Planetarium offers unique audio-visual education and entertainment with its modern computerized projection system. For school groups concessions are available. Closed on last Wednesday of every month.
An ancient pilgrimage center, lying beyond the gardens amidst low hills.
, pavilions and holy kunds (natural spring and reservoirs) along with lush landscape make it a delightful spot. The small temple of the Sun God, built by Diwan Kriparam on the top of the highest peak is visible from all parts of the city.
The exquisite Jain temple on the Agra road has some of the most beautiful 19
century paintings in Jaipur style on its walls.
Moti Doongri and
Lakshmi Narayan Temples:
Moti Doongri is a privately owned hilltop fort built like a Scottish castle. The Ganesh Temple at the foot of the hill and the marvelous
Temple built in marble a few years back, are also noteworthy.
The full-length exquisitely carved statue of Sawai Jai Singh in white marble in the center of the circle was erected under the newly planned scheme area to pay homage to the founder of Jaipur.
Beautiful memorials to the queens, Maharani-ki-Chhatri are near the Ramgarh road corssing on the
Amber Road. The
, Jai Mahal built by Sawai Jai Singh I, is a fascinating spot at the center of the Man Sagar Lake.
The Kanak Vrindavan Complex of fine temples and gradens has been recently renovated to their pristine perfection. To the west of this road is the royal crematorium at Gaitore in a narrow valley with some spectacular cenotaphs of all the Jaipur rulers except Sawai Ishwari Singh who was cremated outside the
. Most imposing is the `chhatri' of Sawai Jai Singh II with intricate carvings and a graceful shape.
Sisodia Rani Garden has tiered multilevel gardens with fountains, water channel and painted pavilions and suites of living rooms.
Among others, Vidhyadhar-ka-Bagh is the best preserved one, with shady trees, flowing water, an open pavilion. It was built by the planner of the city, Vidhyadhar.
Former capital of the Kachhawaha rulers of the old state of Dhundhar for seven centuries. Very little of the early structures survive now.
Amer Palace and Shila Mata Temple : A beautiful complex of palaces, halls, pavilions, gardens and temples built by Raja Man Singh, Mirza Raja Jai Singh and Sawai Jai Singh over a period of about two centuries still stand in magnificent state.
The palace complex emerges dramatically from the placid waters of the
and is approachable only through a steep path. Tourists often ride on the elephant back to the Singh Pol and the Jaleb Chowk. Two flights of stairs rise from one end of the chwok, one leading to the
and other to the palace complex.
The image of the patron goddess, worshipped by thousands of devotees, was brought from Jessore in
East Bengal (now in Bangladesh) by Raja Man Singh, to be installed here.
A spectacular pillared hall-Diwan-e-Aam and a double storeyed painted gateway. Ganesh Pole dominate the front courtyard. An elegant tiny garden in Charbag style beyond the corridors, has Sukh Niwas to its right and Jas Mandir to its left. The latter combines the Mughal and Rajput architecture, seen in its beautiful interior with intricately carved Jali screens, delicate mirror and stucco work and painted and carved dadoes. The well proportioned Mohan Bar or Kesar Kyari in the center of the
Maotha Lake and the Dilaram Bagh at its north end provides a spectacular view of the palaces above.
Once a settlement of nobles, craftsmen and common folks, the city of Amer is now in ruins.
The remnants of its rich past are the beautifully carved and planned
, a Krishna temple associated with Meerabai, an ancient
and a magnificent step-well, Panna Mian-ka-kund.
One of the few military structures of medieval
India, retains its ancient splendour in palaces, gardens, reservoirs, a granary, an armory, a well planned cannon foundry, several temples, a tall tower and a giant mounted cannon- the Jai Ban, one of the largest in the country are preserved here.
The extensive parkotas (walls), watch tower and gateways of Jaigarh dominate the western skyline.
A sentinel to the
Pink City is Nahargarh Fort, situated beyond the hills of Jaigarh.
Although much of it is in ruins, the lovely building added by Sawai Ram Singh II and Sawai Madho Singh II provides interest to the fort.
Sanganer (14 kms.):
Located on the Tonk road. In addition to its ruined palaces, Sanganer has exquisitely carved Jain temples. The town is entered through the ruins of two tripolias (Triple gateways).
The town is an important center for crafts industry and produces some of the finest hand printed textiles from units of block and screen printers. This textile is popular all over the country and aborad.
Bagru (35 kms.):
On the Ajmer Road, the ground level fort is still in good shape. It is noted for its hand printed handloom industry using simple techniques.
The designs of these handlooms are less complicated and are in earthy hues.
Ramgarh Lake (32 kms. North East):
A huge artifical lake created by constructing a high bund amidst tree covered hills. While the temple of Jamwa Mata and the ruins of the old fort are some of its antiquities, its beautiful landscape, especially during monsoons, makes it an idyllic picnic spot.
Samod (40 kms.
The beautiful Samode Palace, has been rebuilt and renovated and provides a fine example of the Rajput haveli architecture and is an ideal spot for outings.
Bairath (86 kms. on the Shahpura –
An important historical place with the excavated remains of a circular Buddhist temple – unique in Rajasthan and the earliest known temple in India. Bairath also has relics of the Mauryan, Mughal and Rajput periods.
A mint constructed by Akbar, a beautiful Mughal garden and a remarkable monument with painted chhatris and walls built by Jahangir are other attractions.
Abhaneri (128 kms. north east off the Agra Road near Bandikui) :
A famous 7
century A.D. temple of Harshad Mata and the step-well known as Chandra Baodi are of interest. Two Jain temples are also present, which were built at a later period.
Sambhar (94 kms. west):
The largest inland salt
lake of India known for the holy Devayani Tank, the palace and the Naliasar nearby.
Jaisinghpura Khor (12 kms. off the
Amer Road) :
One of the settlements of the Meena tribe, it has a formidable fort, a Jain temple and a step-well amid lush surroundings.
Madhogarh-Tunga (40 kms. on the
Bassi-Lalsot Agra Road) :
Tunga was witness to a historic battle fought between the Jaipur forces and the Marathas. The fort is nestled amidst beautiful mango orchards.