Rajasthan - Jaipur Pink City
Jaipur or the Pink City was founded in 1727 by
astronomer-King Sawai Jai Singh, one of the greatest rulers of the Kachhawaha
clan, and designed by architect Vidhyadhar Bhattacharya. The pink colour was in
imitation of the red sandstone buildings of the Mughals. The city was
considered a marvel of town planning and attracted merchants and craftsmen to
areas which were earmarked for them. Many of the traditional crafts patron by
the 18th century rulers continue till today. So there are streets which are
famous for jewellery, tie-and-dye, enamel work or pottery, leather work and
stone carvings. In the Pink city, as in many parts of India, the ancient and
the modern co-exist in harmony.
The traffic in Jaipur is chaotic as cars
and buses vie for space on the roads with camels, bullock carts and the ever
increasing tribe of cyclists. The desperate policemen try to control the deluge
of traffic, often by putting across a chain when the traffic light turns red,
but you may still see scooter riders and cyclists ducking below the chain and
jumping the lights.
The palace is in the heart of the city (popularly
called City Palace), and around it, neatly laid, are the commercial and
residential areas. A fortified wall with seven gates girdles the city. It was
built to protect the city from invading armies as well as the wild animals in
the thick jungles on the city's outskirts. Today the city has grown beyond the
fort walls and continues to grow. It is best explored on foot.
erstwhile royal family still lives in the City Palace which houses the
seven-storeyed Chandra Mahal, Mubarak Mahal, the Diwan-i-Am and
the Diwan-i-Khas. The Museum is definitely worth a visit. It houses an
exquisite collection of carpets, the finest porcelain and a rare collection of
arms and paintings. It is here that you can see a huge pair of silver
containers - the largest single pieces of silver in the world.
Across the road from the City Palace is the Jantar Mantar,
one of the five observatories built by Sawai Jai Singh. The astronomical
instruments, carved out of stone, continue to give accurate information even
after nearly 300 years! Hawa Mahal or the 'Palace of Winds' is one of
the most unusual structures built by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh. It has over
900 niches or windows from which the ladies of the court conveniently watched
the activities on the street without being observed.
Outside the walled
city is the large Ram Niwas Garden with the Albert Hall Museum in
its centre. While the museum has a rich collection of ivory and stone
sculptures, paintings and carpets, Ram Niwas Bagh houses one of the oldest zoos
in the country.
Around Jaipur are several excursion areas. These include
Maharani ki Chattri, where the last rites of the royal ladies were
conducted; Gaitor, the funeral ground of the rulers of Jaipur, nestling
at the foot of the Nahargarh hills; Jai Mahal, a lovely palace set in
the Man Sagar Lake, where the royal duck shoots were organised; and
Sisodia Palace and Garden - well laid and housing several galleries,
pavilions and beautiful murals depicting scenes from the life of Lord