The Capital of the modern state of Rajasthan, Jaipur is a modern city built according to the specifications laid down in ancient architectural texts. Known as the pink city on account of the flush colour of its sandstone palaces, it is a major centre for handicrafts. Its former capital, Amber, consists of fortifications with an interesting rang of highly decorated public and private apartments.
Jaipur, the 'Pink City', has been the capital of erstwhile Jaipur state since its inception in 1727 AD, It was founded by Sawai Jai Singh II, a great ruler as well as renowned mathematician and astrologer. Vidhyadhar Bhattacharya, designed Jaipur as per the Hindu treatise, Shilp Shastra. In 1876 Jaipur dressed itself in pink to welcome Prince Albert, consort of queen Victoria, and earned the epitaph 'Pink City'. The excellent handicrafts of Jaipur are exquisite gold jewellery enameled or inlaid with precious stones, blue pottery, carving on wood, stone & ivory, block print & tie & dye textiles, handmade paper etc.
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-than-life intellect and wit. Having proved his prowess as a military tactician for Aurangzeb, growing 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.
Places to See:
Located to one side, but a part of the City Palace complex, Hawa Mahal is best viewed from the street outside. If is were not for the bustling bazaar all around, it would have been easy to mistake it for a film set, so exquisitely is it proportioned, and so incongruous is its delicacy. Hawa Mahal consists of five tiers of corridors on the inside, with pierced screen windows that overlook the street below. It is believed the women of the royal zenana would sit concealed behind these screens to see life in the city beyond the walls of the palace.
As may be expected, the City Palace complex lies at the heart of the city. Getting in is simpler than it once was. Though the erstwhile maharaja and his family and close friends use the triple-arched Tripolia Gate to enter their section of the palace, most visitors are ushered in through Atish Pol which is located close to the royal stables, cross from here to Chandni Chowk or Moonlit Square and then on to Gainda ki Deorhi. At the heart of the complex is seven-tiered Chandra Mahal where the erstwhile royal family is still in residence, though only a small part of the apartments are occupied.
A stone observatory, part of the city palace complex, Jantar Mantar is one of several other astronomical observatories created by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh 2nd (other are in Delhi, Banaras, Ujjain). These concrete masonry instruments were used to measure everything from altitude to time, and map the movement of the planets and the stars. Jai Singh 2nd had a passion for astronomy and used astronomical inventions from different of these observatories, the largest of which in is Jaipur.
Ram Niwas Bagh:
A lush spacious garden with a zoo, an aviary, a greenhouse, a herbarium, a museum and popular sports ground. It was built by Sawai Ram Singh 2nd in 1868 A.D. as a famine relief project. The Albert hall, fine example of Indo Sarcenic style of architecture designed by Sir Swinton Jecob, was opened later with an exquisite collection of sculptures, paintings, decorative wares, natural history specimen, an Egyptian mummy & celebrated Persian carpet. Recently, the Rabindra Manch with an auditorium, a modern art gallery and an open air theatre, has been added to promote cultural events.
Laxmi Narayan Temple ( Birla Mandir ):
A new temple, also known as Birla Temple, built entirely of marble, this is a showcase of the continuing skill of the mason and the sculptor.It is very famous for its architure, Lots of pilgrimage visit this place from different parts of India & Abroad.
BM Birla Planetarium:
The planetarium offers unique audio-visual education and entertainment with its modern computerized projection system. For school groups concessions are available. Closed on last Wednesday of every month.
Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum:
Located within the city palace complex and nestled amidst old buildings, temples and the palace quarters, this museum was founded in 1959 by Maharaja Swai Man Singh II.
Festivals in Jaipur:
The Gangaur festival is the most important local festival of Rajasthan and is observed throughout the state with great fervour and devotion by womenfolk who worship Gauri, the consort of lord Shiva. Gan is a synonym for Shiva and Gauri which stands for Gauri or Parvati who symbolizes saubhagya (Marital Bliss). Gauri is the embodiment of perfection and conjugal love which is why the unmarried women worship her for being blessed with good husbands, while married women do so for welfare, health and long life of their spouses and a happy married life.
Elephant Festival, Jaipur:
The elephant festival gets underway in the month of Phalgun (March) on the eve of Holi, the festival of colours. The festival begins with a procession of elephants, camels, horses and folk dancers.
Jaipur offers one-of-a-kind shopping experience with its rich treasure of bewitching jewellery, beautiful gems, semi precious stones, Kundan and Minakari work (enamel work on gold). Beautiful cotton fabrics including Sanganeri prints, tie-and-die and fine kaoa 'Doria' saris are the best buys for women. The exotic blue pottery, enamel ware and brass ware, make excellent souvenirs and gift items. The city is also famous for woollen carpets and cotton rugs.
How To Reach:
By Air : Jaipur has its own airport, and is well connected to all other tourist and business centres.
By Rail : The city is well connected by trains with all the major places in India.
By Road : An excellent connection to Delhi by Shatabdi Express and the Pink City Express. Other connections to Jaipur are from Bikaner, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Ahemadabad, Secunderabad and Lucknow. Road A network of reasonably comfortable tourist buses, run by road corporations of Rajasthan, Haryana and others.