The Walled city- Jaipur

Jaipur is much more than just the Pink city of India. It is a rich amalgamation of modernization and preservation of the past cultural heritage. It is divided into two distinct cities- the new  and the old. It is the old city which is referred to as the pink city as under government’s rule all houses of this city has to be painted pink in color. Moreover this is probably the only city in the entire State which is surrounded by a huge wall; thus making the wall engulf the whole city . If you ever want to visit Jaipur it is advisable that you take some time in hand to cover all the tourist spots of the place. But unfortunately, I had only one day in hand. Nevertheless even with one day one can cover most of the places worth seeing and also do some fabulous shopping. The only trick is wake up early!

When you are going for a city tour you must try and arrange for a vehicle otherwise it becomes very difficult to travel from one place to the other especially if you have come for the first time and have no tourist guide with you. Right before entering the old city one can locate the Albert Hall Museum which stands as a remnant of a meeting held between Sir Albert and the then Maharajah of Jaipur during the British era.

ALBERT HALL MUSEUM

On entering the old city two things stand out clearly. One, the big gates of the city inviting you to explore its rich culture and two, the color of the houses , shops, hospitals, hotels etc; every single house is painted pink. The very first monument which you can see is the Hawa Mahal. It is a facade palace built mostly on pillars. It is said that in earlier times when the kings and his men would pass through the city gates the Queen , maids and the ladies of the royal family would get together in the Hawa Mahal to get a glimpse of the King and his men.  Also, during extreme summer days the Queen enjoyed the cool breeze by sitting near the windows of the Hawa Mahal.

HAWA MAHAL

Further down the road you get to see the Jal Mahal. It is a palace built completely on water. The reason why it does not sink is that it is equally distributed above and under water . There is only one way to reach the Palace- a boat ride. It earlier used to serve as the summer house of the Maharajah’s . Though now it is under reconstruction and closed for tourist viewing . Today it serves only as a museum.

JAL MAHAL

After the Jal mahal comes the main attraction of this part of the city -the forts. There are two different forts to be seen- the Amber Fort/ Amer Fort at the foot of the hills while the Nahargarh Fort is on top of the hill. Amber Fort is divided into two distinct parts- the residential part and the storing place of the artillery. From the gates of the Fort to the main residential Fortress one can travel via car, tourist buses, local buses, motor cycles or opt for elephant rides. I was told by my guide that within a span of fifteen to sixteen kilometres one can find over three hundred temples inside the city. It is a pleasant scene when all the guests going to Amber Fort are greeted by traditional musicians playing folk music on their instruments outside the  Residential Fortress gates. One can see vendors trying to persuade tourists to buy caps, hats, postcards and other little curios.

TRADITIONAL MUSICIANS
AMER FORT 

 The temple in the fortress is what greets every visitor first on their arrival. Many monkeys too visit this temple and food is sometimes left for them to eat. However many tourists also opt not to go for the temple and see it from outside as these monkeys can sometimes become a nuisance stealing food, money, specs, etc.

MONKEYS WAITING TO WELCOME YOU
TEMPLE IN AMER FORT

Going further up the fort one sees the Diwan-i-Aam or the Hall of public audience where the king used to listen to the common people. The common people of the city were allowed only till this point. From hereon started the private palace of the Kings and Queens . The entire palace is an architectural marvel. There are few distinct pieces of artwork which you must not miss.

THE RESIDENTIAL PALACE, AMER FORT 
  • The wall carvings and patterns on the roof of most of the doors and rooms of the palace have been made by gold. Interestingly, if you stand outside the room and watch the patterns they appear to have been made with yellow paint but only when you step inside can you understand that it is pure gold.
    GOLD PATTERNS 
  • The Sheesh Mahal or the Hall of Mirrors is intricately designed by making designs and patterns from mirrors of all shapes and sizes. In fact if you stand any where near this hall you can see your reflection and find at least a hundred  copies of yourself on the walls.Earlier Sheesh Mahals were the features of the Queens quarters. It is very famous in Mughal architecture and can be found in almost all forts made by them. 
    SHEESH MAHAL
  • Adjacent to the Sheesh Mahal there are wall carvings made out of a single slab of marble. This I personally call the Wall of Illusions. What from far can be seen as a pretty pattern of flowers and butterfly is not actually so. One can see the head of a snake, the tail of a fish and a lion and a scorpion all camouflaged within one single carving.
    WALL CARVINGS
  •  The artificial lake cannot be missed at all.  This lake was actually built in the form of a reservoir which stored rain water for future use. This lake not only served as a man- made wonder but also as a means of providing natural air conditioning to the palace in summer months. Water from this reservoir was also used to give water to the kings garden and promote saffron plantations within a platform built on the lake to grow saffron .
    ARTIFICIAL LAKE WITH SAFFRON CULTIVATION

Apart from these are the King and the Queen’s quarters, their recreational spots, their servants quarters, courtyards, kitchens and tourist shops .

Leaving the Amber Fort one has to take a steep road ascending further up the hill to the Nahargarh fort. Though not much is to be seen in the entire fort but it houses Jaivan the biggest Cannon in the world. It is said that it was fired only once by the Maharaja and after the destruction that it made, it was decided that it will never be fired again. This fort is a museum for the variety of strategic arms that were used by the Maharajah’s in various battles. It displays cannons, guns, pistols, gun powder making factory , shields, swords and the like. Further ahead is the Bhool Bhulaiyya where you tend to get lost amidst the various small and narrow lanes, by lanes, alleys, rooms and doors. There are also some puppet shops and food stores where one can eat while watching a puppet show. Photography is restricted in many parts of this fort.

JAIVAN CANNON

The Jantar Mantar is a solar observatory set up by the king of Jaipur. Till date it gives the accurate sense of time to the people. It was built  when time was measured looking at the suns rays and the shadows. The dial and the sun rays were the two important instruments to show the time in this observatory. Today with all sorts of modern gadgets and instruments like watches and observatories one may find technical faults at times; but the readings of the Jantar Mantar  are not wrong.

Your last but not the least destination should be the City Palace of Jaipur or the current residence of the Maharajah of Jaipur. It is a huge complex fragmented into two halves. While seventy per cent of the campus is opened to tourists in the form of City Palace Museum , around thirty per cent of the complex is retained by the king as his private property. In fact the revenues collected by the tourist visits are given directly to the King and the Government has no part to play in the whole system. It would take another post in itself to discuss the City Palace .

After sightseeing comes the time for food ! There are many hotels and restaurants built in the area. Most of these hotels offer both traditional Rajasthani  food and not so traditional foods as well. With lots of foreigners visiting the city everyday  the hotels have adjusted to make all its customers happy and satisfied. Thus where one would find Dal Baati Churma in the hotel one would also find drumsticks and Mughlai food. There are lots of roadside inns, hotels and restaurants to choose from and one would not be left hungry for long.


We save the best for the last and that is shopping! When in Rajasthan you must take a piece of bandhni ghaghras, lehengas, skirts etc. The Kurtis and Salwars are also made in traditional hand embroideries and prints. Block print is another famous technique used here. Leheriya sarees and dupattas are also quite in fashion. Jaipur is famous for its blue pottery. You get jewelries, coasters, plates, etc made in blue pottery with exquisite hand painted and hand carved designs.Hand made paintings of animals and Kings and Queens are also very unique to this part of the country. It is desirable to take few as it serves as great gift items.

More until next time . Signing off for now!

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