Jaipur, popularly known as the Pink City, is the capital of the state of Rajasthan. It has, long been established, on tourist itineraries as the third corner of India's Golden Triangle, just 300 kilometres southwest of Delhi, and 200 kilometres west of Agra. The old city of Jaipur is partially encircled with seven gates - the major gates are Chandpol, Sanganeri, and Ajmeri. The 'pink city' label, applies specifically, to the old walled quarter of the Rajasthani capital, while in the northeast of the town, glorious palaces and temples, in an assortment of styles, spanning centuries, are scattered throughout the, predominantly, urban area.
The city owes its name, its foundations and its careful planning, to the great warrior - astronomer Maharaja Jai Singh II. His predecessors, had enjoyed good relations with the Mughals, and Jai Singh was careful to cultivate this alliance. In 1727, with Mughal power on the wane, Jai Singh decided to move down from his capital hillside fortress at Amber, to a new site on the plains. A Bengali architect Vidhyadhar Bhattacharya designed the city, using the principles of town planning, as laid down in the Shilpa Shastra, an ancient Hindu treatise on architecture. He built the City Palace, and the largest stone observatory in the world, employing the same principles.
What to See
Jaipur is a tourist's delight. It is an extremely colourful city, and in the evening light, the pink and the orange buildings exude a magical glow, which is complemented by the vibrantly attired Rajasthanis. Camel drawn carts are characteristic of Jaipur's passing street scene.
The most magnificent palaces of the city, are the Hawa Mahal and City Palace.
Adjacent to the City Palace is the Jantar Mantar, an observatory begun by Jai Singh in 1728. Jai Singh's passion for astronomy, was even more notable, than his prowess as a warrior. The Jaipur observatory is the largest, and the best preserved of the five observatories he built. The others are in Delhi, Varanasi and Ujjain. The observatory at Mathura, has now disappeared.
Located in the Ram Niwas gardens, in the south of the old city, is Central Museum, which houses portraits of the Jaipur Maharajas, a collection of costumes, and woodwork from various parts of the state, and other miniatures and artworks. There is also a zoo, and an art gallery, located in the Gardens.
There are a lot of attractions near Jaipur, and on the Jaipur - Amber road. About 11 kilometres out of Jaipur, Amber was once the ancient capital of Rajasthan. The Amber Fort is a stunning piece of Rajput architecture.
The Cenotaphs of the royal family are at Gaitore, 6.5 kilometres from Jaipur, on the road to Amber. Opposite the Cenotaphs, is the Jal Mahal Palace, in the middle of a lake, and reached by a causeway. Nahargarh Fort is 6.5 km away, and is floodlit at night. Jaigarh Fort, built in 1726, is within walking distance of Amber.
About 50 km north of Jaipur, is the small village of Samode. The beautiful Samode palace, located in the village, is worth a visit. Other places of interest to the tourist are, the Temple of Sun God at Galta, Sisodia Rani palace and gardens, Vidyadhar's garden, Balaji and Sanganer.
When to Visit
The best time to visit Jaipur is between October and March.