‘As I grew up hearing about the stories of valiant kings so called ‘rajas’ and their kingdom always fascinated me. It was my hidden desire to experience such royal treat personally. Finally, the much awaited moment arrived when I got a chance to visit the royal city ofJaipur also famous as ‘the pink city’. The sprawling malls and the bullock – cart felt like a whirlwind of old culture mixed with modern developments. The rich heritage, splendid fortresses, culture and architecture, majestic palaces and beautiful havelis is a treat for the visitors.
It is the largest city of Rajasthan and is India’s first planned city. It was established in 1727 by Jai Singh II. It was the capital of former kachwaha rulers. This city has many majestic palaces, forts, the exquisite handicrafts and marvelous pieces of jewellery to boast of! The best time to visit Jaipur is between Octobers to march. The must see places of Jaipur are:-
It’s an 11 km. drive from the city of Jaipur and the most famous fort. It was built in 1592 by Raja, Mann Singh. I decided to experience the majestic fort in a regal style. I hired an elephant and a mahout and decided to go for the elephant ride. Elephant ride to the top of the fort is one of the most popular activities of Jaipur. As the majestic animal rides its way up the ramparts of the fort, it makes you let go of your wild side. A colorful decorated elephant trodding its way up to a fort makes for a quintessential photograph depicting rich Indian culture. The ten – minute walk uphill left me mesmerized. The main entry to the fort is ‘suraj pol’ or ‘sun gate’ righteously confirming its name as it faces the east where the sun rises. There is a famous temple ‘Shila devi’ right at the entrance in the main grounds. The deity worshiped here is, warrior goddess Amba from which Amber fort draws its name. The deity is called shila Devi as it is carved from a single stone, or shila. The ornately decorated silver covered doors of the temples are an impressive sight and the ganesha’s statue made of single piece of coral is the biggest, I have ever seen. Though photography is strictly prohibited here, still the pictures of temples, its deities are crystal clear in my mind till now. This fort shows a seamless fusion of both Islamic and Rajput architecture. Sheesh mahal or chamber of mirrors used to be the pleasure palace of maharaja’s of Jaipur , Jas mandir with its floral ceilings, Diwan – e – aam (hall of public audience), Diwan- e – khas (hall of private audience), sukh niwas leave you transfixed. The serenity of lush gardens, well manicured and floral array, artistic archways, elaborate doors add to the richness of the beauty of this fort. The fort situated on a hilltop overlooking Lake Mayota captivates your heart. The stories of sheesh mahal, the harem, the kesar bagh, the courtyard etc. Kept me engrossed and the place which I expected to be done within a couple of hours ended up with almost a day!!!
It is believed to have derived its name from the words - yantra (instrument) and mandir (temple) meaning – a temple of instruments. Quite easy accessible as it is located in the heart of the city, just opposite to the city palace. Built by the Rajput king sawai jai Singhand completed in 1735 Ce. The most striking is the samrat yantra (the giant sundial), which is the world’s tallest sundial at 27 meters and has a shadow movement speed of 6 cm per minute. It is the most advanced observatory having instruments to predict eclipses, track the location of stars, and determine the exact orbit of the earth around the sun. It is an apt blend of heritage and astronomy. It’s surprising to see such a remarkable observatory in that era, the precisions these instruments worked on is truly commendable.
I was welcomed by an over whelming complex of exquisite palaces, the perfectly manicured gardens and beautiful courtyards overlooking the decorative art and carved doorways. It’s a blend of mughal and Rajput architecture with magnificent European style of architecture. It’s here, where you can seldom brush across a living maharaja of jaipur and members of royal family as it is the official residence of maharaja of jaipur, who lives inChandra mahal. In 1959, the palace opened its doors to the general public and international visitors. Some parts have been turned into a museum. The entrances have been given certain names to mark their importance such as udail pol (atish pol) – main entrance, - tripolia gate – reserved for royal family virendra pol – close to Mubarak mahal, ridhi-sidhi pol (auspicious palace) diwan – e – khas houses the enormous silver jars, called gangajal, used for keeping sacred water of river Ganges (gangajal). The flag of the maharaja flies on top of the Chandra mahal indicating that king is in the palace. When the king is away, the queen’s flag is hoisted.
This place certainly tops the list in luring the visitors as it reasonably justifies three key aspects – dedication, purpose and creativity. Maharaja Sawai pratap Singh built this structure in 1799 resembling the crown of lord Krishna made of peacock feathers. He dedicated this amazing masterpiece to lord almighty. The king was a follower of ‘purdah’ system so Hawa mahal allowed the royal ladies to witness everyday life in the street below through 953 small jharokhas (windows) and also allowing the coolest breeze to flow across the corridors and the rooms.
The fort stands majestically along the edges of the aravalli hills along with the jaigarh fort, amber fort and their long walls mounting like a serpent. These forts are interconnected, thus providing the city a strong defense system. The view of the city spread below from this fort is truly mesmerizing. According to the locals there is a story behind the name of fort and I had a chill run down my spine. Originally this place was called as “sudarshangarh”. Soon, this place was haunted by the spirit of Nahar Singh Bhomia, who by endless efforts of a tantrik posed two conditions to leave this place. One was that a temple be built in his memory within the fort premises and other that the fort should be named after him. Thus the fort got its name – nahargarh… the fort had plush forest resources so king would go for hunting very often. Cannons at the entrance s of the fort offer a majestic look. The royal bath of the queens provides a regal touch to the fort. The jaivara cannon is the world’s biggest wheeled cannon ever made. Located at the jaigarh fort of jaipur cast in 1720, during the reign of maharaja sawai jai Singh II of jaipur. It must have been pretty difficult to transport this cannon to the top of the hill.