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Jaipur visit is a trip to the culture city with forts and palaces. Visit to Jaipur city is equipped with historical monuments as Hawa Mahal and Nahargarh Fort etc. Jaipur is also an important shopping destination where a wide variety of souvenirs, handicrafts, textiles and jewellery are available.
Jaipur was founded in 1727. It is the first planned city of India. In 1853, when the Prince of Wales visited Jaipur, the whole city was painted pink to welcome him, from that day onwards the name pink city continues. In a recent international survey Jaipur was ranked the 7th best place to visit in Asia and in another poll it was ranked third among twelve major Indian cities.
There are several places of tourist interest in Jaipur: among Forts & Palaces;Hawa Mahal, Amber Fort, Jaigarh Fort, Nahargarh Fort, City Palace, Chandra Mahal and Diwan-e-Aam and Jal Mahal etc. Among temples; Birla Temple or Lakshmi Narayan Mandir, Govind Dev Ji temple, Moti Doongri temple, Galtaji, Swaminarayan Mandir and Jain Temple. There are monuments such as Jantar Mantar and Central Museum.
JAIPUR SIGHTSEEING PLACES
Hawa Mahal: This 'Palace of Winds' is the most recognizable monument of Jaipur that was built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh. This five-storied beautiful semi-octagonal monument has 152 windows with hanging latticed balconies. It is a blend of Rajput and Mughal architecture. It was designed for the royal ladies to watch and enjoy the processions and other activities without being seen the outsiders. The Hawa Mahal has tier after tier of 953 fine and small windows. The air circulating through these windows keeps the Palace perennially cool. The Hawa Mahal Palace overlooks one of Jaipur's main streets. The main entrance to the Hawa Mahal is through the safety door that opens into the spacious courtyard. At present it houses a museum also.
Jantar Mantar (Observatory): Jantar Mantar was a magnificent astronomical observatory that was built by Sawai Jai Singh in 18th century. It is the largest stone observatory in the world. This huge masonry instruments were used to study the movement of constellations and stars in the sky. It is a grand astronomical instrumental place to observe time; enormous sundial still provides accurate time, which is subject to daily corrections. This impressive stone observatory is equipped with 14 fixed geometrical instruments that were used for tracing the stars orbits. It was used for astronomy and at the time of eclipses, was used to find out the altitudes. It is a grand celebration of astronomical science and each instrument serves a particular function and gives an accurate reading. In 1848, it was declared a National monument.
City Palace & Museum: It is situated in the heart of the old City that occupies about one seventh of the old city area. It is known as core of Rajasthan, which is situated in the heart of the city. The Palace is now converted in a museum except for a one section where the erstwhile royal family still lives. The Palace cum museum is constructed in the fortified campus style and covers more than half of the old city.
City Palace museum has different sections dedicated to subjects like arms and ammunition, textile and costume, and art gallery. The palace is a blend of Rajput and Mughal architecture; it houses a seven-storied Chandra Mahal in the center, which affords a fine view of the gardens and the city. Diwan-E-Am (Hall of public audience) has intricate decorations and collection of manuscripts, Diwan-E-Khas (Hall of private audience) has a marble pawed gallery Mubarak Mahal has a rich collection of costumes and textiles. There is a Clock Tower near Mubarak Mahal. Sileh Khana has a collection of armory and weapons.
Amer fort: Amber Fort is located 11 km north to Jaipur. It is a blend of Hindu and Mughal architecture. This fort had been the capital of Kachchwaha Rajputs. Maharaja Man Singh built it in 16th century that sprawls on the hillside. Its construction was started by Raja Man Singh but completed by his descendant Jai Singh. Later, Sawai Jai Singh shifted the capital to present day Jaipur.
Amber fort is built in red sandstone and white marble; the palace complex has very interesting apartments. The old township of Amber lies at the foothills of the palace and has an old world charm. The rugged walls of this fort may not look beautiful from outside, but the interior is a virtual paradise and painted scenes of hunting and wars adorn the walls along with precious stones and mirrors set into the plaster. The palace complex is lavishly ornamented and displays the riches of Amer. The fort is remarkable as much for the majestic grandeur of its surroundings as for its sturdy battlements and beautiful palaces. The old city of Amer was the seat of power and bustling with life and prosperity.
Amber is the classic romantic fort palace. You can enjoy elephant rides from the bottom of the Amber fort to the hilltop. By standing in the hilltop you can see the excellent views of Maota Lake. Some of the fascinating sightseeing inside the fort includes Raj Mahal, Suraj Pol, Diwan-e-Aam, Ganesh Pol, Jai Mandir, Sohag Mandir, Singh Pol, Shila Mata temple, and Palace of Man Singh I etc.
Sheesh Mahal / Palace of Mirrors: It is one of the most spectacular sights in the Amber Fort. It is a big hall that is adorned with thousands of tiny mirrors; this palace is renowned for the craftsmanship exhibited by the artisans. It is said that during the reign of the royalty, the glow of a single candle would be enough to illuminate the entire hall.
Chandra Mahal/ Moon Palace: This seven-storied palace is one of the highlights of the City Palace trip. You may visit the residence of Bhavani Singh, the present king of Jaipur; it is a blend of Hindu and Mughal architecture. Every floor has a distinctive name and a trait. The ground and first floor of the palace houses Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum. This museum has an extensive collection of art, carpets, enamelware, costumes, paintings and 15th century weapons.
'Sukh Nivas' or Hall of Rest on the next floors comprises the drawing and dining room of the Maharaja. They are lavishly furnished with Mughal miniatures, European silver, glass dining tables and peep holes decorated with gold leafs, for ventilation.
On the fourth floor is Shobha Niwas; adorned with hundreds of colored mirrors that produce a stunning effect when the light falls on them.
The fifth floor is the 'Chhavi Nivas' or Hall of Images, the royal retreat during the monsoons. It has blue and white painted walls and a polished floor made of eggshell stucco.
The sixth floor with its mirrored ceiling and stucco floor has rows of double columns, which offer commanding views of the rugged hills and the surrounding city.
The Mukut temple, on the top of the palace, is the crowning glory of the Chandra Mahal.
Chand Pol: The beautiful layout of the pink city was based on the ancient Vaastu ideology and is built within the hefty walls that are connected through three ancient gates - Chand Pol, Ajmeri Gate and Sanganeri Gate. These gates secured the old city and were opened at dawn for the public.
Diwan-e-Aam: Diwan-e-Aam literally means 'Hall for a public audience' has now been converted into an art gallery. It was built in 1760. The hall is decorated with magnificent chandeliers, ornamental painted ceilings studded with semi-precious stones. There are typical Jaipur designs and motifs adorn ornate pillars while its walls are intricately painted in shades of deep red and gold. The art gallery displays Maharaja’s collection of Persian and Indian miniatures, life-size portraits of the royal families and rare manuscripts. Its library has great Indian epics like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata along with the works of Abul Fazal and other talented artists of Emperor Akbar’s court.
Mubarak Mahal: This palace is the splendid architectural wonder of the 19th century. The Rajput nobility built it. It is a beautiful two-storied Haveli with huge courtyards. The palace has been constructed in the traditional Rajput style with murals and frescos adorning the walls. The opulence of that era reflects through the ornamental pillars and teak furniture.
Jaigarh Fort: Jaigarh fort is a rugged structure built in 1726 by Sawai Jai Singh situated 15 Kms from the north of Jaipur. Its structure is similar to Amber Fort. It is standing on a hilltop, overlooking the palaces and city of Amer. The world’s biggest cannon on wheels- the Jaivana is positioned here that weighs 50 tones and has 20 feet long barrel. This fort is known for housing the largest canon, which was fired only once. Other attractions in the Jaigarh Fort include three water tanks, a museum, and breathtaking views of the city from the top.
Central Museum OR Albert Hall Museum: This graceful building was founded in 1876 by Prince Albert hence it is also known as Albert Hall Museum. This museum was built under the supervision of Lt. Swinton Jacob. It is located in the Ram Niwas Garden. It is an imposing stone structure executed in the Indo-Persian style of architecture. It has a rare collection of archaeological and handicraft pieces. It consists many courtyards, pillars and arches.
Nahargarh Fort: Nahargarh fort located 15 Kms from Jaipur. It is one of the three forts built by Maharahja Jai Sawai Singh, the ruler of Jaipur. The fort cresting a hill about 600 ft. above the city, was built in 1734. The walls of the fort run along the ridge that consists architectural beauties like Hawa Mandir and Madhvendra Bhawan. You see some ruined parts of the forts but it still provides exquisite views of ancient monumental legacies of India. The fort glitters under moonlight to the best of its charm.
Sisodia Rani ka Bagh: Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II built this magnificent palace garden in 1710 for his queen. It is situated on the Jaipur-Agra road at a distance of 10 km from Jaipur. The garden was commissioned by the queen of Jai Singh II, Sisodia queen as a refuge to escape to from the incessant politicking and court intrigues. The garden is beautifully landscaped and has murals depicting scenes from the life of Lord Krishna. At a short distance away from Sisodia Rani Ka Bagh are natural springs and temples of Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva, and Lord Hanuman.
Galtaji: This is an ancient Hindu pilgrimage center that is famed for its natural springs. It is huge temple complex that hosts a plethora of pavilions with domed roofs. There are numerous pavilions and temples, which are visited by devotees and tourists. A beautiful ravine in the midst of the scenic low-lying hills surrounds it. It crests the ridge over a picturesque gorge and provides an impressive view of the city. The temple of Galtaji is made with pink stones. It is located within the City Palace complex and the main temple is dedicated to the Sun God. The exterior of this temple is decorated with beautiful carvings and detailed paintings.
Moti Doongri: This is a swanky palace that is the current residence of Rajmata Gayatri Devi. The royal residence is private property but Ganesh and Lakshmi temples at the foothills are open to the public and devotees. Sawai Man Singh II renovated this palace to look like a Scottish Castle. The uphill palace of Moti Doongri was originally a fortress.
Gaitor: It is located at the foothill of Nahargarh, 8 Kms from Jaipur. In Gaitor, you can see the marble and sandstone cenotaphs of the ancient Jaipur rulers. Jai Singh II built these gracefully carved cenotaphs in white marble.
Jal Mahal: It is a pleasure palace built in the 18th century. It is set against the rolling Nahargarh hills, 6 Kms on the way to Amer. The palace is built in the middle of the Man Sagar Lake and was meant to be used for the royal duck shooting parties. You may approach to Jal Mahal through a causeway situated in the middle of Man Sagar Lake. Although Jal Mahal is a five-storied palace but its first four floors are submerged under water. The Man Sagar Lake is also a bird watcher’s paradise as it attracts a variety of local and migratory birds. The royal family cenotaphs can be seen across the palace.
Samode Palace: This beautiful palace now converted into a luxury hotel located at a short distance from Jaipur. It has a 4000-year-old history. It is famed for its exquisite grandeur and notable architecture. You may also visit Samode Fort, Samode Bagh and Durbar tent, which remain popular sightseeing spots. The surrounding Samode village still retains old world charm and folk arts.
Laxmi Narayan Temple/ Birla Mandir: This beautiful temple is built of pure white marble with intricate carvings. It is a popular tourist attraction. The corporate giant Birla Foundation built it that is one of the largest industrial dynasties in India. It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi, his consort. The chief deity is constructed out of a single piece of marble beautifully. This temple also houses many deities, with an exquisite image of Lord Ganesha. The temple is ornate with beautiful carvings and rich sculptures from of Hindu mythology. This famous temple is located close to Moti Doongri.
Akshardham Temple: This is the picturesque and artistically built shrine that is feast for the eyes of visiting devotees. This temple is dedicated to Lord Swami Narayana. It is known for brilliant sculpture and exquisite idols. You may also have a glimpse of cultural heritage of India while visiting this temple.
JAIPUR FAIRS & FESTIVALS
There are several fairs and festivals celebrated with great enthusiasm in Jaipur. Some of the important ones are as follows
Gangaur Festival; It is a significant festival of Jaipur. It is especially meant for the women. Gangaur festival is widely acclaimed and celebrated throughout the state of Rajasthan. The word Gangaur is derived from two words, 'Gan' and 'Gauri' which are synonyms of 'Siva' and his consort 'Parvati' respectively.
Kite Festival; It is a popular festival of Jaipur. Kite flying is enjoyed by people of all age groups. However, 14 January, the day of Makar Sankranti, makes the official day for flying kites in Jaipur. People make most out of the festival by flying kites for the whole day.
Teej Festival; It is one of the most popular festivals of India. It is widely celebrated, but its real charm can be found only in Jaipur. Teej celebrates the arrival of monsoon, after the scorching sun of summers.