Jaipur, the ‘Pink City’ of India was the former capital of the Kachhawahas. It was founded in 1727, by Sawai Jai Singh and was named after him. Jai Singh’s and was named after him. Jai Singh’s various talents and tastes are well exhibited in his dream city. The designing of the city was entrusted upon a young and talented Bengali architect, Vidyadhar Bhattacharya. Jaipur is perhaps the first planned city of India and was laid with great precision on the basis of principles of ‘Shilp Shastra’, the ancient Hindu treatise on architecture. The city was built in the form of a rectangle divided into blocks (Chowkries) with roads and avenues running paralledl to the sides. In 1863, Jaipur dressed itself in Pink to welcome Prince Albert, consort of Queen Victoria and the colour became an integral part of the city. Today, the city is a fine fusion of antiquity and modernity, excellent planning, unique architecture and colourful lifestyle of the city can excite even the most seasoned tourist. Jaipur is a shopper’s delight too, as a wide range of excellent handicrafts are available in the city.
After independence, Jaipur became the administrative and commercial capital of what was known as Rajputana, a suitable conclusion to the dreams of its founder Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, a man famed for his talents as a politician, mathematician, and astronomer. At age 13 he ascended the throne of the Kachchwaha Rajputs, a clan that had enjoyed tremendous prosperity and power as a result of their canny alliance, dating back to Humayun’s reign, with the Mughal emperors. It was in fact the emperor Aurangzeb, a fanatically pious Muslim, who—despite the fact that Jai Singh was a Hindu prince—named him Sawai, meaning “one and a quarter,” for his larger-thanlife intellect and wit. Having proved his prowess as a military tactician for Aurangzeb, increasing the emperor’s royal coffers substantially, Jai Singh felt it safe to move his capital from the claustrophobic hills surrounding Amber to a dry lake in the valley below. Begun in 1727 and completed in just 8 years, Jaipur was the first city in India to enjoy rigorous town planning according to the principles laid down in “Shilpa Shastra,” an ancient Indian treatise on architecture. The city is protected by high walls, with wide, straight avenues that divide it into nine sectors (apparently reflecting the nine divisions of the universe, resembling the Indian horoscope), each named after the commodity and caste who lived and practiced their specific skills here—the order and space was at the time a total revolution in Indian cities. Although these market names still provide some clue as to what was once found in the otherwise rather uniform rows of shops that line the streets, the overall significance of these historic divisions is today lost to the traveler on foot trying to negotiate the chaos of the filth-strewn streets and pushy traders. Despite the romantic nickname the “Pink City,” Jaipur is not one of Rajasthan’s most attractive cities, which is why, after taking in the centrally located City Palace (where the principal sights are located), it’s probably wise to concentrate on sites farther afield: Amber Fort, first royal residence of the Maharajas of Kachchwaha, lies 11km (7 miles) north; and popular Samode Palace is an hour’s drive away. But if the heat has you beat and the very thought of traipsing through another fort or durbar hall leaves you feeling exhausted, check out the shopping recommendations. A central repository for the region’s wonderful crafts, Jaipur is famous for its gems and jewelry, enamel- and brassware, blue pottery, embroidered leather footwear, rugs, tie-and-dye cotton fabrics, hand-blocked prints, fine Kota doria saris, and ready-made linens and home furnishings.
The major attractions and best bazaars lie within the walls of the Old City. Just south of the wall lies Mirza Ismail (M.I.) Road—running west to east, this major thoroughfare is where most of the primary retail outlets and a few good restaurants are located, and divides the city between the old (north) and new (south). The Old City is clearly distinguishable by its pink walls and ramparts, and the new by its modern shops. Station Road, Sansar Chandra Marg, and Bhagwan Das Marg all intersect M.I. Road. Along these you will find all the services you need, from travel agents and money-changers to ATMs, restaurants, and Internet cafes. Farther south (but still within walking distance), diagonally opposite both Ajmeri Gate and New Gate of the Old City, lie Albert Hall and the Museum of Indology.
Jaipur, the capital city of the north Indian state of Rajasthan, extends from latitude 26.55° in the north longitude 75.52° in the east. Jaipur would have been a part of the Thar Desert but for the protection afforded by the Aravalli Hills that from a barrier on one side.
The climate of Jaipur is extreme hot and humid summers and chilly winters. The maximum temperature during the summers (from April to July) reaches a high of around 45°C. On the other hand, winters have sunny and pleasant days and bitterly cold nights. Temperature can touch a low of around 5°C, mostly during the night.
Jaipur, the pink city or city f victory was founded in 1727 by Maharaja Jai Singh II, a Kachhwaha Rajput, who ruled from 1699-1744. Being a brainchild of the Maharaja, he took special interest in the designing, planning and execution works of Jaipur. The city has been divided into nine blocks of which two are kept for the City Palace Complex and other state buildings, whereas the other seven blocks were earmarked for the public. The city was encircled by the city wall, which opened at seven gates or darwazas. In 1728,, Maharaja Jai Singh II built the remarkable observatory, which is still one of Jaipur's main attractions.
Jaipur Tourism Information
WHAT TO SEE & DO
The principal attraction of the Old City of Jaipur is its City Palace (see below), nearby Jantar Mantar (also described below), and much-photographed Hawa Mahal (Palace of Wind). Built by Sawai Pratap Singh in 1799, Hawa Mahal (daily 9:30am–6pm; Rs 5/10¢ entry, Rs 30/70¢ camera) is principally a five-story facade of 593 latticed-stone screened windows, behind which the ladies of the palace could view the city without being seen. You can walk along the corridors that line the windows, which are mostly one room thick, but the building’s principal attraction is the facade, which can be viewed from street level (entrance from Tripolia Bazaar, Police HQ lane). Also within the city complex, opposite Chandra Mahal, is Govindji Temple (daily 5–11am and 6–8pm), the most famous in the city and dedicated to Lord Krishna, Jai Singh II’s favorite deity. The Krishna image was brought here from Brindavan in the late 17th century; devotees are allowed only a glimpse of it seven times a day. In the new part of the city lies Ram Niwas Bagh, the city garden, which houses a depressing zoo and aviary. At the heart of the garden lies Albert Hall, which houses the Central Museum (& 0141/257-0099; daily 10am–4:30pm; Rs 35/75¢; cameras not allowed). Designed by the prolific architect and past master of the hybrid Indo- Saracenic style of architecture, Swinton Jacob, this is of principal interest from an architectural point of view, and a slow turn around the building in a car will suffice for many. That’s not to say that the exhibits are devoid of interest—the eclectic collection covers a wide range from musical instruments to bottled organs, and the tiny terra-cotta figures demonstrating myriad yoga positions are worth a look. A short drive due south lies the even stranger Museum of Indology (& 0141/260-7455; daily 9am–6pm; Rs 40/90¢, Rs 100/$2.30 camera, Rs 500/$11 video), where an incredible selection of objects—all collected in one lifetime by the writer Acharya Vyakul—has been crammed into countless dusty display cases in every nook and cranny of his house. The collection is as eclectic as they come, including a map of India painted on a grain of rice, misprinted rupees, a 180-million-year-old fossil, a letter written by Jai Singh, and the Gayatri Mantra written on a single strand of hair. It’s a great shame more money is not available to edit and present this collection professionally. On M.I. Road, near the Panch Batti intersection (where you’ll see a statue of Sawai Jai Singh II) is Raj Mandir (& 0141/237-9372 or 0141/236-4438)—one of the most over-the-top cinemas in the country. This is the place to watch a Bollywood blockbuster, though you will need to book tickets in advance to avoid waiting in line for hours. If the film is a new release, book a day in advance (daily 10am–2pm and 3–6pm). If you don’t fancy sitting through 3 hours of Hindi melodrama, request that the doorman let you in for a sneak peak; he may oblige for a Rs 20 (45¢) tip if the hall isn’t packed. Or arrive a few hours before the film, purchase your ticket, and kill time over a coffee and a pastry across the street at Barista, while you browse books on Rajasthani art and architecture, magazines, and bestsellers. Or you can visit the McDonald’s next door—if only to people-watch a typical middle-class family or young collegians enjoying their Maharaja Macs and other uniquely Indian McDonald’s fare. The most disappointing attraction in the city is Jawahar Kala Kendra. Designed by the Indian architect Charles Correa in 1993, it has enjoyed exposure as a great example of contemporary Indian design and is celebrated as a center for the arts, with large exhibition spaces and studios for artists. Although the architecture may impress some, it is now all but empty of artists, and the exhibition spaces contain little more than a few broken chairs and the mattress of a homeless student—which may pass for art in the minds of the Turner Prize judges, but looks very much like a failed project. CITY ESCAPES If the populous nature of Jaipur gets to be too much, take a trip to Amber Fort (see below), which can be covered in a few hours. Do bear in mind, however, that even here the crush of people can be exhausting, particularly over weekends; try to get here as soon as it opens. Time allowing, you may want to include a visit to Jaigarh Fort (daily 9am–4:30pm; Rs 30/70¢; City Palace entry ticket includes Jaigarh), whose walls snake high above Amber, creating a crenelated horizon. Built for defense purposes by Sawai Jai Singh II, it has a number of buildings, gardens, and reservoirs as well as the world’s largest cannon on wheels and the only surviving medieval cannon foundry, but its principal attraction is the panoramic view across Amber. On the way to Amber you’ll see the turnoff for the imposing hilltop fort of Nahargarh (see “Sunset over Jaipur,” above). Just below it is Gaitor (free entry; Rs 10/25¢ camera), a walled garden that houses the marble chhatris—erected over cremation platforms—of the Kachchwaha rulers. Needless to say, the most impressive one belongs to Jai Singh II. Farther along Amber Road you will see Jal Mahal, a lake palace originally built by Sawai Pratap Singh in 1799, who spent much of his childhood at Udaipur’s Lake Palace. Sadly, Man Sagar Lake is dry from the protracted drought, stripping it of much of its romance. If it’s romance you’re after, take a leisurely drive to Samode Palace (see “Where to Stay,” below; lunch Rs 500/$11) where, after touring Diwan-i-Khas and Diwan-i-Am, you can enjoy tea in the lovely courtyard, where bold sparrows will attempt to nibble your biscuits. Or—even better— book a table at Rajvilas for dinner (see “Where to Dine,” later in this chapter). East of Jaipur (8km/5 miles), on the road to Agra, you will find relative peace and fresh air at Sisodia Rani Gardens (& 0141/268-0494; daily 8am–6pm; Rs 5/10¢). Constructed by the Kachchwaha kings during the 18th and 19th centuries, it comprises terraced gardens with painted pavilions, the largest being Sisodia Rani Ka Bagh, built by the ever-prolific Jai Singh II for his Sisodia queen in yet another clever alliance—this time with the Rajputs from the Udaipur region. Her small palace—the perfect retreat for royal intrigue—has been featured in a number of Bollywood movies. Behind the gardens, a flight of stairs leads to a temple dedicated to Hanuman, the monkey god—hundreds of monkeys descend here at 4pm when the priests feed them. A little farther along the Agra road is pretty Galta, a gorge filled with sacred kunds (natural pools or reservoirs), all fed by pure spring water that falls from a rock resembling a carved cow’s mouth, and surrounded by temples.
This open air observatory is set outside the gateway of the City Palace Complex. It was built in1728, by Sawai Jai Singh II and is one of the five observatories built by him. The first being at Delhi in 1724, followed by observatories at jaipur (1728); Ujjain (1734); Varanasi (1737) and Mathura (1738).
Jantar Mantar Living proof of the genius of Sawai Jai Singh, this medieval observatory (built 1728–34) is the largest of its kind in the world, and the best preserved of Jai Singh’s five observatories. Whether or not you understand how the instruments are read, the sheer sculptural shapes of the stone and marble objects and the monumental sizes of many (like the 23m-high/74-ft. Samrat Yantra, which forecasts crop prospects based on “the declination and hour of the heavenly bodies”) are worth the trip and make for great photographs. The observatory looks more like a modern art exhibition or sci-fi set—hard to believe these instruments were constructed in the 18th century and remain functional. Some are still used to forecast how hot the summer will be, when the monsoon will arrive, and how long it will last. There are 18 instruments in all, erected between 1728 and 1734 by Sawai Jai Singh—many of his own invention. Try to get here before the sun gets too hot. You can hire a guide at the gate for Rs 150 ($3.40), but you’ll do far better booking Jaimini Shastri (see “Guided Tours,” earlier in this chapter); be sure to book him well in advance. Tip: If you want to see how the instruments work, avoid coming on an overcast day—almost all the instruments require sunlight to function. Follow signs from city palace. Rs 10 (25¢), Rs 50 ($1.15) still camera, Rs 100 ($2.30) video. Daily 9am–4:30pm.
Amber (or Amer) Fort
Amber Fort and Palace was originally built by Raja Man Singh and subsequently developed by Sawai Jai Singh. The major attractions are Sheela Devi Temple, Sheesh Mahal (Hall of mirrors), and Jai Garh Fort, a few kilometers from the city centre, which was built for the defense of the town and has one for the world's biggest cannons on wheels. It has a rich collection of arms weapons.
Amber (or Amer) Fort Amber was the capital of the Kachchwahas from 1037 to 1727, when Sawai Jai Singh II moved the capital to Jaipur. The approach is through a narrow pass, and the fort, an imposing edifice that grew over a period of 2 centuries, is naturally fortified by the Aravalli Hills, making it an ideal stronghold. It’s a stiff 20- minute climb to Suraj Pol (Sun Gate), beyond which lies a beautiful complex of palaces, halls, pavilions, gardens, and temples. Either travel by car or pretend you are of royal blood and ascend on elephant-back (Rs 450/$10) for one to four riders; if you want to take pictures of the elephants, they pose for you for Rs 25 to Rs 50 (55¢–$1.15). After entering Jaleb Chowk through Suraj Pol (more elephants take riders for a turn around the courtyard), dismount and take the flight of stairs up through Singh Pol (Lion Gate) to Diwan-i-Am (Hall of Public Audience), a raised platform with 27 colonnades. Opposite you’ll see the ornately carved silver doors leading to Shila Devi Temple, which contains an image of the goddess Kali, the appropriate family deity for the warring Rajput Kachchwaha. Massive, three-story, intricately decorated Ganesh Pol (Elephant Gate) leads to the private apartments of the royal family, built around a Mughal-style garden courtyard. Sheesh Mahal (Mirror Palace)—covered in mirror mosaics and colored glass—would have been the private quarters of the maharaja and his maharani, literally transformed into a glittering jewel box in flickering candlelight. Above is Jas Mandir, a hall of private audience, with floral glass inlays and alabaster relief work. Opposite, across the garden, is Sukh Mahal (Pleasure Palace)—note the perforations in the marble walls and channels where water was piped to cool the rooms. South lies the oldest part, the Palace of Man Singh I. If you want to explore the old town and its many temples, exit through Chand Pol, opposite Suraj Pol. Note: As is the case elsewhere, the press of bodies and noise levels can seriously detract from the experience—try to get here at 9am to avoid the heat and crowds and, if possible, avoid visiting on weekends.
Anokhi Museum While you are in the Amber Fort area, take time to stop at this recently opened little gem. You may be told the museum doesn’t exist, but persist by asking for Biharji Temple and looking for a pink haveli nearby. Anokhi began as an arts-and-crafts movement 30 years ago, and in this beautifully designed museum you can admire the textile traditions the movement has helped preserve. Each room is dedicated to a different style of fabric printing, displayed in glass cases along with artisans’ implements. End your visit with a cuppa tea at the pleasant cafe and a stop at the expensive but exquisite museum shop
City Palace Complex
It was built between 1729 and 1730 by Sawai Jai Singh in the heart of the old city area. The complex is surrounded by a high wall and is divided into a series of courtyards, gardens and other buildings. It is a splendid fusion of Rajput and Mughal styles of architecture. The magnificent Chandra Mahal, occupies the centre state and is still the residence of erstwhile ruling family. The outer courtyards have architectural beauties like Mubarak mahal, Sarvatobhadra, Diwan Khana and Pritam Niwas. These have been converted into a museum known as the Maharaja Sawai man Singh II Museum. The most interesting exhibits at city palace includes, the two huge silver urns known as Gangajalis, which are placed outside the Diwan-i-Khas or the ‘Hall of Private Audience’. These were used by Sawai Madho Singh during his trip to England in 1902. The silver urns find mention in “Guinness Book of Worlds”, as being the largest silver objects in the world. Govind Devji Temple near Chandra Mahal is dedicated to Lord Krishna.
Hawa Mahal or the ‘Palace of Winds’
It was built in 1799, by the poet king Sawai Pratap Singh for the royal ladies to enjoy the procession and day to day activities from the cool confinement of this majestic façade. The five storeyed semi-octagonal structures have 953 niches and 152 windows, with overhanging latticed balconies, curvilinear roofs, domes and spires.
Swargasuli or Isar Lat
This imposing minaret was built by Sawai Ishwari Singh in 1749, to commemorate a grand visitor. It dominates the skyline on the western side of the Tripolia Bazar and affords a fine view of the city.
Ram Niwas Garden
The beautiful garden near Ajmeri Gate was built by Sawai Ram Singh n 1868. It sprawls across an area of four acres and has a zoo, a bird park, a play ground, exhibition ground and a gymnasium.
Govt. Central Museum (Albert Hall)
The magnificent building built in Indo-Saracenic style is set in the lush Ram Niwas Garden. It was designed by Sir Swinton Jacob and inaugurated in 1863, by Prince Albert. Albert Hall was opened in 1887 as a public museum and now functions as the Sate Museum of Rajasthan.
Jaipur Tour Information
It is also located within the Ram Nivas garden. Rajasthani dance, music and plays are held here in the evenings. There is also a small art gallery exhibiting works of well known modern artists and the sculptors of Rajasthan.
It is situated on the J L Nehru Marg, near Police Memorial and has a rich collection of beautiful dolls from all over the world.
Birla Planetarium, Birla Auditorium and Convention Centre
It is the part of the Birla Science Circle. The audio visual display at the planetarium with the help of computerised projection system is educative and entertaining. There is an interactive science museum, a library, a computer centre, an information processing and dissemination cell etc. The state-of-the-art main auditorium is one of the largest in the country, with a seating capacity of 1,350.
This ancient Hindu pilgrim site associated with sage Galava nestles amidst low hills. The sacred site is studded with temples, pavilions and holy kunds. The temple of Sun God built by Diwan Kriparam is the most important shrine of Galtaji.
Brila Mandir or Lakshmi Narayan Temple
The magnificent temple just below Moti Doongri is noted for its excellent architecture and exquisite carvings on white marble.
The royal crematorium at the foot hills of Nahargarh fort has cenotaphs and memorials of various distinguished members of the royal family of Jaipur.
Maharani Ki Chhatri
It is the funeral place for royal ladies and is located just before the Ramgarh road crossing. Some exquisitely carved cenotaphs can be seen here.
Kanak Vrindavan Garden Complex
The beautiful temple-garden complex lies on Jaipur – Delhi highway, near jal Mahal. It is a popular excursion and picnic point.
Ghat ki Guni
This scenic narrow gorge along the Agra road has beautifully landscaped gardens built during the 18th and 19th centuries. The important ones are – Sisodia Rani Gardens and Palace and Vidhyadhar Garden.
Jal Mahal or the ‘Water Palace’ (6km)
This summer resort of the erstwhile royal family was built by Sawai Pratap Singh in 1799, in the midst of picturesque Man Sagar Lake on the way to Amber.
Fairs and Festivals in Jaipur
Makar Sankranti (14th jan.)
Devotees take a holy dip in the kunds of Galtaji. The day is also marked by kite flying competitions and the Jaipur sky is filled with colourful kites.
Elephant Festival (mar. – Apr.)
It is celebrated during the occasion of Holi, the festival of colours, at the Chaugan stadium, City Palace complex.
Gangaur (March to April)
It is one of the most important festivals of Rajasthan. Women worship Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati during this time. In Jaipur, a silver and gold palki (carriage) of Gauri (Goddess Parvati) is taken out in a traditional colourful procession of animals, animal driven carts, chariots, bands of musicians, athletes and wrestlers. The procession commences from Zanana Deorhi of City Palace and passes through Tripolia Bazar, Gangauri Bazar, Chaugan and finally converges at Talkatora Lake, where the image of the deity is immersed in the lake.
Teej (July / August)
It marks the advent of rainy season and the union of Lord Shiva and Parvati. Married women pray for the long life and well being of their husbands and young girls pray for a nice life partner during this time. A colourful procession similar to the Gangaur procession is taken out from City Palace during this time. << Click to Book Your Tour Online>>
Sisodia Rani Ka Bagh
Along the road to Agra, through a narrow gorge in the south-eastern corner of the walled city, several landscaped gardens were constructed by the kings and important courtiers in the 18th and 19th centuries. The largest and he most famous amongst these is a garden built by Sawai JaiSingh II for his Sisodia Queen - The Sisodia Rani-ka-Bagh. It consists of tiered multi-level gardens with fountains, watercourses and painted pavilions. Amongst others, the best-preserved one is Vidyadhar-ka-Bagh, constructed by the builder of the city, Vidyadhar, with shady trees, flowing water, an open pavilion and suites of living rooms.
The Western skyline is dominated by the extensive parkotas (walls), watch-towers and gateways of Jaigarh. It is one of the few military structures of medieval India preserved almost intact containing palaces, gardens, open and covered reservoirs, a granary, an armoury, a well planned cannon foundry, several temples, a tall tower and a giant mounted cannon, the 'Jai Ban' which the largest in the country.
Beyond the hills of Jaigarh, stands the fort of Nahargarh like a watchful sentinel guarding Sawai Jai Singh's beautiful capital. Much of the original structures are now in ruins, but the lovely buildings added by Sawai Ram Singh II and Sawai Madho Singh II in the 19th century are preserved in a good condition. Some of the rooms provide the most spectacular view of the city below.
Pushkar, just 11 kilomeres from Ajmer comes alive during Puskar Fair, when people from all over Rajasthan converge at Pushkar with their cattle stock. Pushkar Fair is regarded as one of the largest camel festivals in the world. Celebrated in the month of October-November, the Pushkar Fair attracts domestic as well as foreign tourists to Pushkar in Rajasthan.
If you are in Jaipur during March, the Elephant Festival is the event to enjoy. It is a wonderful sight to watch the beautifully decorated elephants catwalk in front of a large number of spectators.
Jaipur Distance Guide
|Jaipur||to||Sawai Madhopur||172 Km|