Highlights of Jaipur
Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan, India’s most colourful and flamboyant state, a place where bicycle rickshaws, elephants and camels compete with swarms of motorbikes and brightly painted buses for space on the overcrowded roads.
The city was named after its founder, the warrior and astronomer Jai Singh who commenced work on building this well planned city in 1744. In 1876 the Maharaja Ram Singh had the entire old city painted pink to welcome the Prince of Wales on a royal visit, resulting in its popular title of the “pink city”. Today all residents of the old city are required by law to maintain the pink façade of their buildings.
Jaipur is well known for its gemstones on which much of its original wealth was founded as well as fabric, jewellery and handicrafts. The city has many interesting attractions both in and around the city including the City Palace, Jantar Mantar, the Hawa Hahal (Palace of the Winds) and perhaps most impressive of all the Amber Fort.
Jaipur is conveniently close to the tiger reserve at Ranthambore and combines nicely as an essential part of the wildlife and cultural circuit of Rajasthan.
City Palace – this complex is a striking blend of Rajasthani and Mughal architecture. The palace has a fascinating armoury as well as an art gallery full of fascinating historical pictures and costumes formerly worn by the royal family of Jaipur. In the open courtyard are two enormous silver vessels, reputed to be the largest ever built, which were commissioned by Maharaja Madho Singh 11 to carry water from the River Ganges to England during a royal visit.
Part of the palace continues to house the royal family.
Great Bazaar Walk – guided by a local expert you will walk through the old city bazaar. A tour here takes you through a labyrinth of colourful alleys where skilled artisans make puppets, bangles and other local handicrafts.
You will pass through the jewellery market, some interesting Havelis (local mansions) and the bangle shops of Maniharon ka Rasta and the flower sellers near Choti Chaupur.
Hawa Mahal – known as the Palace of the Winds is located in the heart of the city.
The five story, pink, sandstone building was designed to allow the ladies of the royal household to observe the life of the city and watch its many processions whilst remaining unseen in the building. The palace has 953 windows and niches.
Jantar Mantar – this collection of large structures is the best preserved of a series of five observatories created by the warrior and astronomer Jai Singh around 1728.
Designed for the observation of astronomical positions with the naked eye, the astronomical observatory is still in use and has been given World Heritage Status.
Amber Fort – located just outside the city, the Amber Fort was constructed in 1592 by a tribe called the Meenas and dedicated to the mother goddess Amba. Perhaps the best known feature of this fort is the “Hall of Mirrors”. When the royal family were in occupancy, a single candle could be lit at night, which reflected in thousands of tiny mirrors, illuminating the entire hall.
The popular elephant-back trip ascending the steep slope to the top of the fort provides wonderful views over the city and original city walls.