The Enthralling Pink City – Jaipur

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Jaipur the capital and largest village in the state of Rajasthan, was founded in 1727 by Maharaja Jai Singh II, the ruler of Amer after whom the city is named. Jaipur is a popular tourist destination and serves as a gateway to other tourist destinations in Rajasthan such as Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Udaipur.

The city, known better now as the ‘Pink City’ because of the color of the stone exclusively used for the construction of all the structures, is an enthralling historical city and the gateway to India’s most flamboyant state.

The city’s colourful, chaotic streets ebb and flow with a heady brew of old and new. In the midst of this mayhem, the splendours of Jaipur’s majestic past are islands of relative calm evoking a different pace and another world.

At the city’s heart, the City Palace continues to house the former royal family; the Jantar Mantar, the royal observatory, maintains a heavenly aspect; and the honeycomb Hawa Mahal gazes on the bazaar below. And just out of sight, in the arid hill country surrounding the city, is the fairy-tale grandeur of Amber Fort, Jaipur’s star attraction.

City Palace

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A complex of courtyards, gardens and buildings, the impressive City Palace is right in the centre of the Old City. The outer wall was built by Jai Singh, but within it the palace has been enlarged and adapted over the centuries. There are palace buildings from different eras, some dating from the early 20th century. Despite the gradual development, the whole is a striking blend of Rajasthani and Mughal architecture.

Amber Fort

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This magnificent fort is largely made up of a royal palace, built from pale yellow and pink sandstone and white marble, and divided into four main sections, each with its own courtyard.

To reach the fort you could either walk or if you’re in the mood to be adventurous, even ride an elephant through Suraj Pol (Sun Gate), which leads to the Jaleb Chowk (Main Courtyard.

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From Jaleb Chowk, an imposing stairway leads up to the main palace, but first it’s worth taking the steps just to the right, which lead to the small Siladevi Temple , with its gorgeous silver doors featuring repoussé (raised relief) work and the Diwan-i-Am (Hall of Public Audience), which has a double row of columns, each topped by a capital in the shape of an elephant, and latticed galleries above.

The Jai Mandir (Hall of Victory) is noted for its inlaid panels and multimirrored ceiling and the Sukh Niwas (Hall of Pleasure), with an ivory-inlaid sandalwood door and a channel that once carried cooling water right through the room. The fort boasts a picturesque view of the Maota Lake below.

Jantar Mantar

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Adjacent to the City Palace is Jantar Mantar, an observatory begun by Jai Singh in 1728 that resembles a collection of giant bizarre sculptures. Built for measuring the heavens, the name is derived from the Sanskrit yanta mantr, meaning ‘instrument of calculation,’ and in 2010 it was added to India’s list of Unesco World Heritage Sites.

Jaipur’s founder and ruler, Jai Singh was keep on the science of astronomy. He decided to construct the observatory and sent scholars abroad to study foreign methods of construction. Apart from Jantar Mantar, the largest and best preserved structure which was restored in 1901, he built five observatories in total. The others are located in Delhi, Varanasi and Ujjain while no traces of the fifth, the Mathura observatory, remain.

Hawa Mahal

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Jaipur’s most distinctive landmark, the Hawa Mahal is an extraordinary, fairy-tale, pink sandstone, delicately honeycombed hive that rises a dizzying five storeys. It was constructed in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh as a high screen wall built so the women of the royal household could observe street festivals while unseen from the outside. . The top offers stunning views over Jantar Mantar and the City Palace one way, and over Siredeori Bazaar the other.

The Mahal also features a small museum with miniature paintings and some rich relics, such as ceremonial armour, which help evoke the royal past.

Chand Baori

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Chand Baori is a step-well situated in the village of Abhaneri near Jaipur in the Indian state of Rajasthan. It is one of the oldest and most attractive landmarks in Rajasthan and was built by King Chanda of the Chauhan Dynasty between AD 800 and AD 900 dedicated to Hashat Mata, Goddess of Joy and Happiness. The state of Rajasthan is extremely arid, and the design and final structure of Chand Baori was intended to conserve as much water as possible. At the bottom of the well, the air remains 5 or 6 degrees cooler than at the surface, and Chand Baori was used as a community gathering place for locals during periods of intense heat. One side of the well even featured a pavilion and resting room for the royals.

Air India Express flies to and from Jaipur to various international destinations.

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