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 Moti Doongri. 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.
Attractions & Places to Visit and Explore in Jaipur
Amber, located about 11 kilometres from Jaipur, sits amidst picturesque and rugged hills. It incorporates both Rajput and Mughal architecture. Constructed by Raja Man Singh I in the late 16th century and completed by Mirja Raja Jai Singh, the fort is made of red sandstone and white marble.
Jaipur City Palace
The City Palace is a splendid example of the foresight that Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II had. As the founder of Jaipur, he took pains to create a magnificent walled city that encloses marvels such as the City Palace. The palace is a beautiful blend of Mughal and Rajput styles of architecture. The previous royal family continues to reside in one section of the palace. Located within the walls of the City Palace, Chandra Mahal is a seven-storeyed tower. However, the ground and first floors have now been given over for the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum.
The Palace of Winds was constructed in 1799 by the poet-king Sawai Pratap Singh. The five-storied structure is made of pink sandstone and has 356 intricately carved jharokhas (windows). It was designed for the women of the royal family to sit in privacy while observing life on the street.
The 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 fourteen geometric devices, designed to measure time, track celestial bodies and observe the orbits of the planets around the sun.
The northern frontier of Jaipur is fortified by Nahargarh Fort. Situated on a rough crest of the Aravalli range, the fort, which literally means ‘abode of the tigers’, was built in 1734 by Jai Singh to further defend Amber. Later, in 1868, the fort was extended to its present size.
Albert Hall Museum
The building gets its name from The Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the inspiration for its design. The exquisitely built Albert Hall is housed in the centre of Ram Niwas Garden. Sir Swinton Jacob (who is also the mastermind behind many other palaces in Rajasthan) conceptualised and designed it using styles from the Indo-Sarcenic architecture and the Prince of Wales laid the foundation stone of the building in 1876. The museum displays a wide range of metal objects, wood crafts, carpets, stone and metal sculptures, arms and weapons, natural stones and ivory goods. It also houses a large collection of miniatures from Bundi, Kota, Kishangarh, Udaipur and Jaipur schools of art.
Of the three hilltop forts that overlook the city of Jaipur, Jaigarh is perhaps the most magnificent of them all. About 15 kilometres from Jaipur, it was built by Sawai Jai Singh II sometime in the early 18th century amidst the arid, rocky and thorn-scrub covered hills. Despite its ancient construction, it still retains most of its imposing citadel appearance. Visitors can see the world’s largest canon – Jaiban, at the fort.
Lakshmi Narayan Temple
The Lakshmi-Narayan Temple, also known as the Birla Temple, is a comparatively newer temple built by the Birlas (a noted industrialist family). The temple, constructed entirely of white marble, is home to the deities of Vishnu and his consort Lakshmi.
Just off the Jaipur-Amber road is Gaitore, where the former Maharajas of Jaipur are entombed. The chhatris (cenotaphs), made of white marble display the distinctive Rajput style of architecture. The open pavilions with ornate domes are supported by delicately sculpted pillars. The crematorium is located in the middle of yellow sandstone hills. The décor and extravagance of a particular chattri is meant to reflect the stature and prowess of the ruler it contains. The most graceful and beautiful chattri at Gaitor is that of Maharaja Jai Singh with 20 carved pillars. Tourists are especially drawn towards it because of its intricate carvings.
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.
Sisodia Rani Palace and Garden
Sisodia Rani Palace and Garden is located 8 kilometres from Jaipur on the Agra road. Laid out in Mughal style, it is painted with the legends of Radha and Krishna. The garden is multi-tiered and has fountains, water courses and painted pavilions. Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II built it for his Sisodia queen.
Located near Sisodia Garden, this is yet another beautiful garden which is a must-see for visitors. It is named after Vidyadhar Bhattacharya, the Chief Architect of Jaipur.
Central Park is a large green zone right in the centre of Jaipur that offers city dwellers a spot for a moment of respite. Conceptualised and built by the Jaipur Development Authority, it is Jaipur’s largest park. It houses a lush garden, the Polo Ground and a golf club. However, the highlight of the park is India’s first all-day-and-all-night monumental National Flag which also happens to be the country’s tallest flagpole.
Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing
At a mere ten-minute walk through the cobbled streets of Amber lies the Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing. Located in a magnificently restored haveli (mansion), the museum displays a varied selection of block-printed textiles alongside images, tools and related objects – all chosen to provide an in-depth look into the complexity of this ancient tradition.
Rising from the middle of Jaipur is a small pearl-shaped hill called Moti Doongri. At the top of the hill sits an exotic palace – a replica of a Scottish castle – which is the private property of the royal family. The highlight of Moti Doongri is a famous and auspicious temple of Lord Ganesh located at the foothill.
Govind Devji Temple
The Krishna temple is a rare spire-less temple and houses the idol of Govind Devji that Sawai Jai Singh brought from Vrindavan. The deity, worshipped by the erstwhile royal family, is also revered by the Hindus in Jaipur and nearby areas.
Galtaji is an ancient pilgrimage centre in Jaipur. Set amidst low hills and packed with locals and tourists alike, the attractive spot has temples, pavilions and holy kunds (natural springs and water tanks). Visitors to Galtaji will come across the complex of Ramgopalji temple, locally called the Monkey temple (Galwar Bagh). It gets this moniker because of a large group of resident monkeys. The green landscape and chattering monkeys add to the delight of the area. On top of the hill is a small temple dedicated to the sun god, called the Surya Mandir. Constructed by Diwan Kriparam, the temple can be seen from anywhere in the city.
Ram Niwas Garden
This historical garden was built by Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh in 1868. Located in the heart of the city, the garden houses the Albert Hall Museum (now known as Central Museum), a bird park, a zoo, the Ravindra Rang Manch theatre, an art gallery and an exhibition ground.
Located at the foothills of Nahargarh hills on the way to Amber, Kanak Vrindavan is popular among the locals for picnics. The beautifully landscaped garden houses an intricately carved temple, several terrace sites, marble columns and lattices, making it a dream location for film shoots as well.
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.
How to Reach here
The Jaipur International Airport is called Sanganer Airport. There are domestic flight connections to and from Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Jodhpur, Udaipur and several other places. There are also international flights from Jaipur to Dubai and Muscat as well. A convenient way to travel to Jaipur is by road. Regular service of AC and Deluxe buses is available from all major cities in Rajasthan. Jaipur is connected via rail from Delhi, Agra, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, etc.