If, I were to transport you to a dream land where the the walls of the city were painted pink, where men and women were draped in some of the most brilliant colours that we have ever seen, would you like to come back from your sleep?
Ha ha, I would much rather that you woke up from such a dream and plan for a trip to Jaipur that so vividly matches the description of the dream sequence.
A lot has been written about Jaipur, so much that I have very little material to add on to what most people in the world know about the Pink City.In the early 1700s, Raja Jai Singh, the Second, decided to bring down his capital from Amer or Amber , from the hills , to the valley below.And, thus, Jaipur was born.
But, Jaipur did not turn pink for the next 100 years or so, when Raja Ram Singh , one of the descendants, of Jai, decided to put his stamp on the city with pink color.
A Town Planner’s Delight
Raja Jai Singh was a man ahead of his times and had a scientific temper and disciplined mind.He could foresee that with the passage of time, his newly formed city would draw multitudes of travellers,business men, jewellers and the lay public and the city would become a bustling one.So, he, with his architects and ministers designed a city that was a perfect square, intersected with streets crossing each other at right angles and allotted specific parts of the city to specifically skilled people.The drainage of the city was excellent so, there was little chance of water spilling on to the streets and the roads were wide enough for the traffic.You would be surprised to know that the width of the main roads in the Old Jaipur area is wide as much as 111 feet!
Another reason was to avoid the frequent attacks by Marathas who had gained strength after the death of Aurangzeb, the last prominent Mughal Emperor.As long as the Mughals were strong, nobody dared to make an expedition against Jaipur as the Mughals and the Rajas of this city were allies.But, once the decline of the Mughals started, Marathas started harbouring ambitions of controlling Jaipur and its wealth.
So, you had a specific part of the city reserved for jewellers, another one for the clothes merchants, one for traders of food and vegetables, another one for ironsmiths etc. Most of these sections still exist after all these 300 years and you will find descendants of all these craftsmen even today, plying with their trade.
For all those who want to know, the name of the chief architect is Pandit Vidyadhar Bhattacharya. A garden by his name , Vidyadhar ka Bagh still exists on the eastern peripheries of the city.
The King who gazed at Stars
Remember Galileo? Well, we had our own Galileo in the form of Raja Jai Singh who apart from being a the creator of Jaipur, was also the man behind some of the greatest observatories that the world has known.For, he set up observatories to track the movements of Sun, stars and planets in Jaipur, Delhi, Ujjain, Mathura, Varanasi and Agra.He was surely an amazing man, much ahead of his times.
Trust- the second name of Jaipur
Yup, that is what I mean 100 percent. Jaipur is known the world over for its countless jewellers who carve out some of the most intricate gold and silver jewellery. People pay them handsome money for getting these masterpieces and trust is one thing that is an unwritten part of the entire transaction. No jeweller will ever cheat his customer or over charge him or her.My mother , who is now nearing 80, depended entirely on the Jaipur jewellers for buying gold and silver and never in her entire life did she once complain of fraud or cheating.So, if you want to buy expensive jewellery in Jaipur, go ahead and buy it without any doubts regarding quality.
Most of the jewellers are based in Johari Bazaar, or the bazaar of Jewellers.
Have a sweet tooth ?
Head over to Rawat Mishthann Bhandar near the MI Road in the city.The store has a mouth watering variety of snacks and sweets and it would be a great experience for you and your family to indulge in those lip smacking yummies!
You can also drop in at Lakshmi Mishthann Bhandar, LMB for short, to have a hearty dinner or lunch. Located in the old quarters of the City, LMB has always been a favourite haunt of travellers.
Why was Jaipur painted pink?
Jaipur was an ordinary city till 1878 when the then king, Ram Singh decided to make the city more exciting to look at. He was aware that the British Prince of Wales was visiting the India shortly and the Prince would want to visit Jaipur too. Keen to show his city in a a unique manner, the king ordered all the buildings in the city to be colored pink.And thus,since then, Jaipur has remained pink.
Welcome to the Palace
The story of Jaipur would remain incomplete if I did not take you to the City Palace.Like the City Palace of Udaipur, the palace here in Jaipur has been converted into a museum that houses ancient arms, royal dresses and silverware. The ex royal family of the kingdom of Jaipur lives in the City Palace.
Of particular interest to visitors to the City Palace is a huge silver cauldron that was used by a king to store the holy water of Ganga while on his way to London! In older days, Indians leaving their country for foreign travel invariably carried the holy water of River Ganga or Ganges for drinking purposes.
A Queen as a cover girl
Yes, Jaipur has the unique distinction of having its Queen on the cover page of Vogue and numerous other international titles. She was ranked among the top 10 most beautiful women in the world by Vogue.Her name was Gayatri Devi.
Born to the royal family of Cooch Behar, India, Gayatri was later married off to the young prince of Jaipur, Sawai Man Singh.The dashing prince had 2 wives already and didn’t mind the young and desirable Gayatri Devi becoming his third wife.
Man Singh was a dashing young man and served in Independent India’s army. He was an avid polo player and passed away in the 1970s in a polo accident.
The Queen lived a long life and passed away in 2009 after leading an eventful 90 years.She had a charm and enigma that very few people possess.In the mid 1970’s when Indira Gandhi, the then Indian Prime Minister declared a state of Emergency, Gayatri Devi was among the very few ex royalists who protested the move.She was imprisoned by the government for her opposition.
For much of her life, she used to live at Moti Doongri, an old castle near the Rajasthan University on the Jawahar Lal Nehru Road.This castle is private property and is closed to the general public.
Do you want to see her and hear her speak?
Laxmi Narayan Temple
Don’t miss visiting this temple while you are in Jaipur.
Made of marble, this temple is simply poetry cast in stone! May I also describe it of having made of cheese? It is that intricate.
Built by one of the richest families of the world, the Birlas, the temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is designed according to the principles of North India temple architecture.
The Prince of Wales Museum
The visit of Prince of Wales was immensely valuable to Jaipur for another reason- the setting up of the Prince of Wales/Albert Hall Museum.
Situated in the Ramniwas Bagh, the museum is a splendid building incorporating the Indian and Saracenic styles of architecture.The purpose behind the setting up of this building was to acquaint and interest the average Jaipur citizen of the art and craft and local customs of the people of India.Indians were also to be exposed to the ancient Babylonian and Egyptian civilizations by this museum.Do not miss this destination while in Jaipur.
And if you have kids, drop in to the zoo that is just next door to the museum.
A fortess haunted…Jaigarh
Once you are done with the city of Jaipur, head over to Jaigarh, the ancient fort that overlooks the city, Jaigarh.
Built by another Raja Jai Singh, Jaigarh provided the defensive cover to the world famous palace of Amer or Amber.But, why am I talking of Jaigarh? It is rumoured that in the late 1970s, the fort of Jaigarh had yielded immense treasures to the then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi.It is also rumoured that all that money was quietly siphoned off by Ms. Gandhi to her bank accounts. Of course, this rumour remained a rumour.
Jaigarh houses an immense canon, Jaivana, which has never been used except once.The range of this canon is said to be 40 kilometres!
Jaigarh can be reached via the Jaipur Delhi highway and is nearly 10 kilometres from the city.
And finally, Amber!
We finally reach Amber, the ancient capital of the Kachhwaha clan of the Rajputs.Both the Jai Singhs that we have talked about earlier belong to this clan.
Amber is actually a palace and was earlier ruled by another clan, Meenas more than 1000 years ago.An enterprising young Rajput lad, Kakildev sought refuge under the Meena king and later, when time was ripe , overthrew his master and usurped the kingdom and occupied the Amber palace.
Since then, Amber has been the seat of power of the Kachhwahas until 1727, when Jai Singh, the Second, decided to establish the new city of Jaipur.
Many of the buildings of the present day Amber have been the creation of the extremely energetic Man Singh, the First, who was the commander of Akbar’s army.The palace has some of the most beautiful buildings within its premises such as Sheesh Mahal or the palace of Glass.Amber should be on your “must visit” list when travelling to India.
How to reach Jaipur
It is well connected to major Indian cities like Mumbai , Delhi , Udaipur by road , train and air. It is well connected to Agra by train and road.
Rajasthan Government does a fantastic job of providing travel and stay services through its website; www.rtdc.in
Best time to visit the city is from October till March.
How do you like this post, my friends? please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want my help in knowing more about the city.