Jaipur: The Pink Marvel City

Ideally we are here for the Jaipur Literature Festival. But we are allowed to bunk, right? What else do you expect with a wanderlust impacted person (my brother) as a co-traveller 😀

We had driven in from Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh and bunked the opening of the literature festival to explore Amer Fort and Jaigarh Fort, which were around 15 kms from Jaipur city. The third day of the literature festival, after attending the morning sessions we went to explore Chand Baori, which is some 95 kms from Jaipur. Finally on the fourth and final day of the Lit Fest we decided to explore the Pink City itself. We have been exploring the nearby areas but it would have been a pity to have stayed in the city for four days and to not have explored its historical marvels.

Jaipur – the capital of an Indian state (Rajasthan) who’s economy majorly relies on its tourism. But to be honest Jaipur is only a blur when you consider the historical marvels in the whole of Rajasthan. The capital is not definitely the best.

Rajasthan is possibly the only Indian state where you find so many historical monuments. The grandeur of Rajputana is truly magnificent and to give due credit to the government, the monuments are pretty well maintained. The government does make efforts to make it a good experience for the tourist. Kudos!

The good thing about being a tourist in Jaipur is that the places that are a must-see are close to each other (and the bad thing is that you don’t find reasonable restaurants here. We had a really tough time finding restaurants. Half of the the time we ate from McDonalds and when we did manage to find restaurants they were priced considering the rate of the dollar against the Indian rupee. Budget travelling to Jaipur, I don’t know. *sigh*) The must-see tourist places in Jaipur is in what is called the old part of Jaipur and this area is the reason why Jaipur is called The Pink City. This part of Jaipur was part of the earlier fortifications of the city and the gate is still well maintained, which is visible as we enter the city. Every shop and house in this part of the city is painted pink. And honestly, at the first glance I wondered, “If you lived here how would you manage to find your house? Everything is so identical.” It is said that you will find every shade of pink in this part of the city. Clearly the boyfriend’s in the city may have a very tough time, if the girl said, “2nd house vala nahi, 7th house vala pink scarf chahiye! ” (“Not the 2nd house pink, I want scarf which is the pink shade of the 7th house”) What fun!

Pink City Market – It’s a paradise for the street junkie shopper

Our first stop was to be City Palace. City Palace is a palace complex consisting of palaces, courtyards and gardens including the Chandra Mahal and Mubarak Mahal. It was the seat of the ruling royal family of the Kachwaha Rajput clan and still continues to be so. The palace was built between 1729 and 1732, initially by Sawai Jai Singh II, the ruler of Amber. He planned and built the outer walls, and later additions were made by successive rulers. A part of The Chandra Mahal is now converted into an extensive museum but the larger part remains the royal residence.

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The Chandra Mahal, which also houses a museum | PC: Tushar Pillai
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The Mubarak Mahal | PC: Tushar Pillai
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This magnificent entrance to the city palace is the perfect blend of Mughal and Rajput Architecture. It also gives us a peek into the religious tolerance of that era. Look at the Ganesha perched right in the centre of a darwaaza that screams Mughal. | PC: Tushar Pillai  

As we enter the palace complex, the grandeur is beyond scale | PC: Tushar Pillai

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The diwaan-e-khaas (where the king met his ministers, counsellors and other dignitaries of importance and took decisions | PC: Tushar Pillai

The palace complex is a reminder of the peaceful acceptance of the good and the co-existence various races shared in Hindustan. A visual treat of the mingling of Rajput, Mughal and European architecture | PC: Tushar Pillai

Our next stop was Jantar Mantar – The knowledge trove of the kings of Rajputana. This monument is said to be a collection of nineteen architectural astronomical instruments, built by the Rajput king Sawai Jai Singh. It has to its credit the world’s largest stone sundial, and is an UNESCO World Heritage site. The entire site is filled with stone and brass instruments which enables the observation of astronomical positions with the naked eye. There are 5 Jantar Mantar monuments in India of which this is the largest one.

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Purvajo Shat Shat Naman…(Ancestors, we bow to thee!) What intelligence and magnificence….we are just a speck these days.

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The world’s largest sundial | PC: Tushar Pillai

We were really hungry by the time we completed the stroll of these two gigantic structures. The third monument we had to visit was Hawa Mahal, which my co-traveller had already visited while I was at the Lit Fest. Today, we just glanced at the road side view of the 5-storeyed structure.

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The Hawa Mahal, Jaipur | PC: Tushar Pillai

Hawa Mahal is a high screen wall built facing the street of Jaipur, so that the royal women could observe the street festivals while being unseen from the outside. This palace is an extension of the City Palace. It was built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh. Its unique five-storey exterior is like a honeycomb of a beehive with its 953 small windows decorated with intricate latticework. The lattice was to allow royal ladies to observe the street below without being seen while the lattice would also allow cool air through the intricate pattern, air conditioning the whole area. 

I would want to go back to Jaipur to visit this lovely palace and also to indulge in street shopping and get some colourful artefacts. I love the colours of Rajasthan.

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Of the 5 storeys of the Jal Mahal only 2 seemed to be exposed, the other 3 are under water | PC: Tushar Pillai

This palace was not part of the Jaipur city tour but we noticed this one the next day  as we came back from Nahargarh Fort and were on our way to Ajmer. The palace is located in the middle of the Man Sagar Lake. This palace is said to have been inspired by Rani Padmavati’s Palace in Chittorgarh. The lake is said to be an artificial lake and what we see today is an highly renovated form of the palace. Jal Mahal is said to be a five storied building out of which four floors remain under water when the lake is full and only the top floor is exposed. We were running short of time and had a whole day ahead of us. So, we did not board the beautifully crafted boats which would have taken us to the palace. We just took in the serene beauty of this architectural wonder as the fog started lifting over Jaipur. We put this one too on the itinerary for the next Jaipur visit.

Though not the best in Rajasthan, but Jaipur is worth a visit. Infact a couple of them 🙂

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