If you stay in Delhi NCR, a drive to the heritage city of Jaipur is a must for a lot of reasons. The drive of around 280 km in itself is enchanting along the NH48. The moment you cross the NCR limits, the essence of Rajasthan starts unfolding in front of you, be it the camel carts or the richly colored turbans of the menfolk. In about 6 hours you reach the capital of Rajasthan.
Do you know why Jaipur is called the Pink City ?The Old City is dotted with buildings painted in Teracotta Pink and this was done to welcome and impress HRH Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (who later became King Edward VII, Emperor of India), in 1876. on his visit to India. The colour denoted respect, honour and hospitality. Jaipur forms part of the west Golden Triangle circuit along with Delhi & Agra. Jaipur is home to many important historic places of visit and bustling markets. Modern city is outside the walled city which has 7 gates - Chandpole, Surajpole, Ajmeri Gate, New Gate, Sanganeri Gate, Ghat Gate, Samrat Gate and Zorawar Singh Gate. The wall encircles the old city.
Have a look at some of the important places of visit we explored...
One of the most iconic monuments of Jaipur, Hawa Mahal was built by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh in the year 1799. Built with pink and red sandstone, the five-storeyed palace literally means 'Palace of Breeze', with each floor having its own significance. The palace has 953 windows decorated with detailed latticework. The lattice work made the palace cool even during summers. The intention of creating this marvelous architecture was to enable royal ladies to see everyday life of common people and festivals; without being seen by the public since the 'purdah' system was in force. One would see that the palace is in the form of crown. Ever wondered why? This was due to the pure devotion of the Maharaja towards Lord Krishna.
Open on all days from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a popular tourist spot, Amer Fort is located atop a hill in an area of four square km located 11 km from Jaipur in Amer (and appx. 25 minutes drive from Hawa Mahal). Remember Jodha of Jodha Akbar? After watching the movie Jodha Akbar, I was interested to see this piece of history more eagerly. The fort has huge ramparts, cobbled paths and a lot of gates. The fort overlooks Maota Lake, the main water source for the fort. This palace was the place of residence for Rajput Maharajas and their families until Jai Singh II decided to move to the new city of Jaipur and built a new City Palace. This fort has Diwan-i-Khaas, Diwan-i-Aam, Sheesh Mahal (the must see in the Fort) and Sukh Niwas where air blows over flowing water and provides cool climate. The Amer Fort is said to be connected to the adjoining Jaigarh Fort through an underground passage. Main entry to the fort is through Suraj Pol. This fort should not be missed on account of its architecture and marvelous interior work that truly reflects the Rajput style of construction. One can recollect having seen most of the fort in Bollywood movies.
Open on all days from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Overlooking the Amer Fort and Maota Lake, this fort was built by Jai Singh II in 1726 to protect Amer Fort and its complex. Covering a distance of 3 km from north to south and a width of 1 km, structurally it is similar to Amer Fort and I like said before, this fort is connected to Amer fort through a secret channel. We skipped visiting this Fort more or less on account of this and I still regret on this! There is an abundance of iron ore surrounding Jaigarh Fort, thus the place became one of the world's most efficient cannon foundries. Within the fort's territory, there are two temples dating back to 10th & 12th century respectively. This fort also houses the Jaivana Cannon which was World's largest cannon at the time of it's manufacture in 1720. It is advisable to move out of the fort before dark as Nahargarh sanctuary is nearby and wild animals roam around in the dark. The fort is considered to be 'The Fort of Victory' as it was never conquered.
Open on all days from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Situated in the heart of the city and established by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II in 1727, City Palace currently serves as the house of royal family of Jaipur. This complex has many buildings, restaurants and galleries. The Museum trust was created by the last titular Maharaja, Brigadier Sawai Bhawani Singh. There is a clock tower also within the premises. Royal clothes, Arms, show pieces and photo gallery is housed in the palace. Two huge silver vessels with a capacity of 4,000 litres is displayed in the palace which was commissioned by Sawai Madho Singh II for carrying Ganga water to drink on his trip to England in 1902.
Open on all days from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
This is a palace built in middle of Man Sagar Lake. This palace is known for its Rajput style of architecture. On the eastern side is Man Sagar dam with Nahargarh hills providing the background. Towards the lake edge, there is Kanak Vrindavan valley housing a temple complex. Opposite the lake are Chhatris & Cenotaphs which were built over the cremation area of Kachhwa rulers. There is a cenotaph of Jai Singh II (founder of Jaipur City) as well. The palace is a 5 storied architecture with 4 floors submerged under water, when the lake is full. Note: Jal Mahal can be viewed by the public only from a distance from a pathway or take a boat to stroll around the Mahal.
ALBERT HALL MUSEUM
Also known as Government Central Museum, this museum is one of the oldest museums of the state. Maharaja Ram Singh originally wanted this to be a town hall but his successor Madho Singh II changed it into a museum. The foundation stone of this building was laid after the visit of King Albert Edward VII . This museum houses coins from ancient India period - Mughal period & Delhi Sultanate rule. This museum also houses an Egyptian Mummy along with a lot of interesting artefacts like paintings, jewelry, carpets etc. Jaipur city zoo and bird park is located near this museum.
Open on all days from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m, 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Out of the five Jantar Mantars built by Sawai Jai Singh II, the one at Jaipur is the biggest of them all. This is also a UNESCO World Heritage site and has 19 instruments in all. This masterpiece was constructed to predict the movement of moon, sun and planets, thus allowing to put together an astronomical table. Tourists from Delhi NCR will be familiar with one located on the Parliament Street. Noon is the best time to visit this place as the readings of all the instruments can be well understood.
Light and sound show is also organised by the management. After having visited this place, one would definitely wonder as to how the people of that era were so scientifically inclined and brought out such accurate instruments that gave out readings to near precision.
Open on all days from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm
Also known as Laxmi Narayan Mandir, Birla Mandir was built by BM Birla Foundation in 1988, dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Vishnu. It is located in Tilak Nagar area near Moti Dungari hill. Like all the other Birla Mandirs in India, this temple is made of sparkling white marbles and has three towers which has a reference to three main faiths in India. The temple has a modern design and is beautifully maintained. During night, the temple is lit to its full glory which imparts it's beauty to the night skyline of Jaipur. From the temple precincts, one can look at Maharani Gayatri Devi fort and palace which is located just behind the temple. This temple also has images of Virgin Mary, Confucius and Socrates on the outer wall.
Timings - 8:00 am to 12:00 pm, 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Note: All the important monuments charge a nominal entrance fee. Check for the ticket prices at the respective counters.
We also visited Chokhi Dhani which offers authentic Rajasthani delicacies and offers a splendid view of Rajasthani folk culture. I will separately post a write-up on Chokhi Dhani.
Other eatables not to be missed in Jaipur are Ghevar, Pyaz ki Kachori, Mirchi pakodi & Gatte ki Sabzi.
Trip to Jaipur is indeed incomplete without the shopping experience. One could shop at Johri bazar for jewelry and gems. Bapu Bazar, the most famous market is popular for colourful textiles, puppets, handicrafts and footwear (especially Mojdis/Jutis) and is a one stop destination for all Jaipuri items. Jaipur is famous for its Sanganeri hand block printed textiles and bedsheets. Reach out to Tripolia Bazar for lac bangles and jewelry. Just near to Hawa Mahal is the Sireh Deori Gate market known for its quilts, blankets, home decor and mouth-watering snacks. Kripal Kumbh is known for its blue pottery. Now you know the shopping hotspots in Jaipur.
A visit to the capital city of Rajasthan will surely leave you spellbound. The city has it all; a perfect blend of traditional bygone era and modern amenities. Home to majestic structures, sumptuous Rajasthani food and lots to shop for, Jaipur is one place which will draw you to visit it again and again.