Friday, May 15, 2009

Jaipur, the Pink City

From Udaipur we proceeded towards Jaipur and by distance this is the longest distance we traveled in a single day on this trip. This city is the capital of Rajasthan. The visually charming city is built in 1727 A.D. by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh Ji. The city is also built of pink stucco, an imitation of sandstone. The houses, shops and havelis through out the city are all pink. The only planned city of its time, Jaipur is encircled by a formidable wall. Even this wall and the huge gateways guarding the entrance to the city are all in pink. Hence the name 'the Pink City'.

The city displays a remarkable architectural treat. It is known for its beautiful palaces, rugged fortresses built on barren hills. Once the palaces of Maharaja's are now the heritage hotels and are excellent place to stay and experience royal splendor. Apart from these there are plenty of beautiful gardens and attractive monuments throughout the city.

There are several monuments in the city and let us visit few of them and the remaining in subsequent post.

Hawa Mahal

The world famous landmark of Jaipur, Hawa Mahal is located to the north of the city's main road intersection, the Badi Chaupad. Built in 1799 by Sawai Pratap Singh is the best known specimen of fanciful architecture. it is an integral part of the City Palace though standing away from the main complex. At first glance it looks rather whimsical in design. When looked from the roadside, it appears as mere facade. But there is much more than meets the eye.

It is a five storied architecture and is constructed of red and pink sandstone, highlighted with white quakeee quick lime. The side facing the street outside the palace complex has 953 small windows, and the breeze (hawa) which circulates through these windows gives the palace its name, and keeps it cool even in hot months.

The entrance opens onto a courtyard with a double-storied building on three sides, and one on the eastern wing with three more stories, which is just one room wide. There are no stairs to reach the upper floors, only ramps.

City Palace

Strategically located in the heart of the Pink City of Jaipur, the architecture is an imposing blend of traditional Rajasthan and Mughal art. Sprawling over the one-seventh of the walled city, it is divided into a series of courtyards, gardens and buildings. It is home to several palatial structures like the Chandra Mahal, Shri Govind Dev Temple, Mubarak Mahal, and the City Palace Museum.

Mubarak Mahal, built by Maharaja Madho Singh, is one of the more important palaces inside the City Palace Complex. It has a beautifully carved marble gate with heavy brass doors on either side of this gate. Beyond this gate, lies the 'Diwan-E-Khas'- a meeting place where the Maharajahs used to entertain a select few. Shri Govind Dev Ji temple is highly revered by the erstwhile royal family. Sawai Man Singh Museum was founded in 1959 by Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II. The exhibits comprise of the ancestral collections built up by the successive rulers of Ajmer and Jaipur.

Jal Mahal Palace

An 18th century pleasure palace, hovering over Mansagar Lake, is noted for its convoluted design and magnificent structural design. Situated across the cenotaphs, there is a land bridge that leads one to the Jal Mahal Palace.

In the next post we shall visit other remarkable monuments of the city.

P.S: December is the month when lot of tourists land in Rajasthan. So if you really want all the arrangements to be done properly this has to be done before October end.

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