Jaipur

The origins of the beautiful city of Jaipur can be traced back to the 18th century, during the reign of Jai Singh II who ascended the Amber throne in 1699. Jai Singh II abandoned the hills of Amber in 1727 and started laying a perfect palace-city in the adjoining planes… Jaipur. This city became the capital of the post-independence state of Rajasthan. Though it is a bustling metropolis, it still retains its character and history … a beautiful fusion of yesteryears and modernity.

It is also called the Pink City because of the extensive usage of pink stone, which is locally abundant. Jaipur has massive forts, magnificent palaces, exquisite temples and marvelous gardens. All through, Jaipur has retained its strong Rajputana flavor… tempered by several influences - the Mughal being the most prominent. The region's strong cultural heritage is distinctly evident even today.

Sightseeing :

Amber Fort-Palace : Amber is a classic romantic Rajasthan fort-palace. Man Singh I started its construction in 1592 and it was completed by his descendant Jai Singh I. Its forbidding exterior belies an inner paradise where a beautiful fusion of Mughal and Hindu styles finds its ultimate refinement. Painted scenes of hunting and war adorn the walls with precious stones and mirrors set into the plaster. In the foreground is the Maota Lake with breathtaking reflections of the majestic Amber Fort-Palace. For an truly royal experience, visitor's can reach the fort through snaking pathways on elephant back.

Jantar Mantar : This is an open air observatory of outsized astronomical instruments. It is the largest and best preserved of the five observatories built by Jai Singh II in different parts of the country.

Jaigarh Fort : Named after Jai Singh II, the Fort is perched on a cliff and is surrounded by huge battlements with inside walkways offering stunning views on all sides.

Nahargarh Fort : This picturesque fort was built by Jai Singh II in 1734. It provides magnificent views down to the Man Sagar Lake. In the midst of this lake is a palatial duck blind which was used by the royal family for shooting parties.

Hawa Mahal : The ornamental facade of this "Palace of Winds" is a landmark in Jaipur. Its five-storey structure of pink sandstone encrusted with delicate trellis work and balconies has 953 niches and windows. It was built by Pratap Singh in 1799 and was a royal grandstand for the palace women.

Jal Mahal : A serene lake-palace, it was the summer resort of the royal family.

City Palace : A delightful blend of Mughal and traditional Rajasthani architecture. The City Palace sprawls over one-seventh of the area in the walled city. It houses the Chandra Mahal, Shri Govind Dev Temple and the City Palace Museum.

Other interesting sights: Central Museum; Museum of Indology; Lakshmi Narain Temple; Kanak Vrindavan; B.M. Birla Planetarium; The Rajmahal Palace; Rambagh Palace (now a luxury hotel).

Festivals :

The Gangaur Festival : This festival is held a few days after Holi and is celebrated in Jaipur on a grand scale in honor of Goddess Parvati. Primarily a festival for women, when married women pray for their husbands and unmarried ladies pray for a good husband. Festive processions are taken out, women draw water from wells, pick flowers and chant hymns to the Goddess Parvati.

The Elephant Festival : Also held at the time of Holi (March/April). Elephants are taken in a procession at this time.

The Teej Festival : Dedicated to Parvati, this festival celebrates the beginning of the monsoon. It is a major event in Jaipur during the months of July/August.

Excursions :

Gaitor : 15 kms from Jaipur, the Chhatris of Jaipur's rulers stand here amidst reverential silence. The cenotaph of Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, the founder of Jaipur, is the finest. A dazzling structure in white marble, its elegant dome is supported by twenty carved pillars. Other note-worthy cenotaphs are those of Pratap Singh and Madho Singh II.

Galta : 20 kms from Jaipur, a fine spot for a day's outing. The natural springs here are said to have curative properties. There are also several temples in the area, note-worthy among them is the temple of the Sun God. Galta is particularly beautiful after the rains, when the surrounding landscape is clothed in a carpet of green. Enroute to Galta from Jaipur, is Sisodia Rani Ka Bagh, a charming palace with a fine garden; a temple dedicated to Vishnu and one dedicated to Hanuman.

Bagru : 28 kms from Jaipur, this is a famous center of textile block-printing.

Samod : Located 40 kms from Jaipur, it is known for its palace which is now a heritage hotel.

Sanganer : 40 kms drive from Jaipur, Sanganer is famous for its textile block-printing, paper-making and Jaipur blue pottery. Hence, a 'must' for the avid shopper. For others, there are several temples and an old palace.

Tonk : 100 kms from Jaipur, this old town dating to the middle of the 17th century, resurrects a forgotten era. The new town is a colorful medley of painted mosques, mansions and colonial buildings. The Sunehri Kothi, or Golden Mansion, is particularly lovely, noted for its mirror work.

Tours :

Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation also provides economical and well-designed, package tours.

Tour I : Golden Triangle - This is a 3-day tour, every Friday. Delhi-Sariska-Jaipur-Bharatpur-Fatehpur Sikri-Agra-Delhi.

Tour II : Hawa Mahal Package - This is a 3-day day tour, every Tuesday. Delhi-Agra-Fatehpur Sikri-Bharatpur-Deeg-Sariska-Jaipur-Delhi.

Tour III : Mewar Package - This is a 6-day tour, every Saturday. Delhi-Jaipur-Chittaurgarh-Udaipur-Ranakpur-Ajmer-Pushkar-Delhi

Shopping :

Jaipur is also home to exquisite handicrafts, marble statuettes, ivory carvings, beautiful textile prints, delicate jewelry and semi-precious/precious gems and stones. Shopping in the old bazaar at twilight, in the shadows of the City Palace, can be magical in this romantic city.

Hawa Mahal City Palace Amber Fort
Nahargarh Fort Jaigarh Fort Access & Accomodation
Rajasthan