Jaipur, the ‘Pink City’ of India was the former capital of the Kachhawahas. It was founded in 1727, by Sawai Jai Singh and was named after him. Jai Singh’s various talents and tastes are well exhibited in his dream city. The designing of the city was entrusted upon a young and talented Bengali architect, Vidyadhar Bhattacharya. Jaipur is perhaps the first planned city of India and was laid with great precision based on principles of ‘Shilp Shastra’, the ancient Hindu treatise on architecture. The city was built in the form of a rectangle divided into blocks (Chowkries) with roads and avenues running parallel to the sides. In 1863, Jaipur dressed in pink to welcome Prince Albert, consort of Queen Victoria and the color became an integral part of the city. Today, the city is a fine fusion of antiquity and modernity, excellent planning, unique architecture and colorful lifestyle of the city can excite even the most seasoned tourist. Jaipur is a shopper’s delight too, as a wide range of excellent handicrafts is available in the city.
City Palace Complex: It was built between 1729 and 1732 by Sawai Jai Singh in the heart of the old city area. The complex is surrounded by a high wall and is divided into a series of courtyards, gardens and other buildings. It is a splendid fusion of Rajput and Mughal styles of architecture. The magnificent Chandra Mahal occupies the center stage and is still the residence of the erstwhile ruling family. The outer courtyards have architectural beauties like Mubarak Mahal, Sarvatobhadra, Diwan Khana and Pritam Niwas. These have been converted into a museum known as the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum. The most interesting exhibits at the city palace include the two huge silver urns known as urns Gangajalis, which are placed outside the Diwan-i-Khas or the ‘Hall of Private Audience’. These were used by Sawai Madho Singh during his trip to England in 1902. The silver urns find mention in “Guinness Book of World Records”, as being the largest silver objects in the world.
Govind Devji Temple: Near Chandra Mahal is dedicated to Lord Krishna.
Jantar Mantar: This open-air observatory is set outside the gateway of the City Palace Complex. It was built in 1728, by Sawai Jai Singh Il and is one of the five observatories built by him. The first being at Delhi in 1724, followed by observatories at Jaipur (1728); Ujjain (1734); Varanasi (1737) and Mathura (1738).
Hawa Mahal or ‘the Palace of Winds’: It was built in 1799, by the poet king Sawai Pratap Singh for the royal ladies to enjoy the procession and day to day activities from the cool confinement of this majestic facade. The five-storeyed semi-octagonal structure has 953 niches and 152 windows, with overhanging latticed balconies, curvilinear roofs, domes, and spires.
Swargasuli or Isar Lat: This imposing minaret was built by Sawai Ishwari Singh in 1749, to commemorate a grand victory. It dominates the skyline on the western side of the Tripolia Bazar and affords a fine view of the city.
Ram Niwas Garden: The beautiful garden near Ajmeri Gate was built by Sawai Ram Singh in 1868. It sprawls across an area of four acres and has a zoo, a bird park, a playground, an exhibition ground, and a gymnasium.
Govt. Central Museum (Albert Hal): The magnificent building built in Indo-Saracenic style is set in the lush m Ram Niwas Garden. It was designed by Sir Swinton Jacob and inaugurated in 1863, by Prince Albert. Albert Hall was opened in 1887 as a public museum and now functions as the State Museum of Rajasthan.
Ravindra Manch: It is also located within the Ram Nivas gardens. Rajasthani dance music and plays are held here in the evenings. There is also a small art gallery exhibiting works of well known modern artists and the sculptors of Rajasthan.
Dolls Museum: It is situated on the J L Nehru Marg, Near Police Memorial and has a rich collection of beautiful dolls from all over the world.
Birla Planetarium, Birla Auditorium &Convention Centre: It is the part of the Birla Science and Technology Centre at Statue Circle. The Audio-Visual display at the planetarium with the help of a computerized projection system is educative and entertaining. There is an interactive science museum, a library, a computer center, an information processing, and dissemination cell, etc. The state-of-the-art main auditorium is one of the largest in the country, with a seating capacity of 1,350.
Galtaji: This ancient Hindu pilgrim site associated with sage Galava nestles amidst low hills. The sacred site is studded with temples, pavilions, and holy kunds. The temple of Sun God built by Diwan Kriparam is the most important shrine of Galtaji.
Birla Mandir or Lakshmi Narayan Temple: The magnificent temple just below Moti Doongri is noted for its excellent architecture and exquisite carvings on white marble.
Gaitor: The royal crematorium at the foothills of Nahargarh fort has cenotaphs and memorials of various distinguished members of the royal family of Jaipur.
Maharani ki Chhatri: It is the funeral place for royal ladies and is located just before the Ramgarh road crossing. Some exquisitely carved cenotaphs can be seen here.
Kanak Vrindavan Garden Complex: The beautiful temple-garden complex lies on Jaipur – Delhi highway, near Jal Mahal. It is a popular excursion and picnic point.
Ghat ki Guni: This scenic narrow gorge along the Agra road has beautifully landscaped gardens built during the 18th and 19th centuries. The important ones are – Sisodia Rani Gardens & Palace and Vidhyadhar Garden.
Jal Mahal or ‘The Water Palace’ (6 kms.): This summer resort of the erstwhile royal family was built by Sawai Pratap Singh in 1799, amid picturesque Man Sagar lake on the way to Amber.
Amber (11 kms.)
It was the capital of Kachhwaha’s of the old state of Dhundhar for over six centuries, before the birth of Jaipur. The mighty Amber fort stands atop a range of craggy hills overlooking the Jaipur Delhi Highway. The fort is a fine blend of Rajput and Mughal styles and is noted for its sturdy battlements and beautiful palaces. The original palace was built by Raja Man Singh, while the successive rulers contributed to the development of the place in their way. The majestic Amber Palace complex Is approached through an imposing gateway called ‘Ganesh Pol”‘. It has magnificent halls, pavilions, gardens and temples built by Raja Man Singh, Mirza Raja Jai Singh and Sawai Jai Singh, over a span of about two centuries. The main sites here include Diwan-i-Am or the Hall for the Public Audiences’, Sukh Niwas or the Hall of Pleasure, Jai Mandir or the Hall of Victory’, Sheesh Mahal or ‘HaH of Mirrors, Diwan-i-Khas or the Private Meeting Hall’ and Jas Mandir or ‘Hall of Glory’ etc. The sacred Shila Mata Temple adjacent to the Singh Pole is dedicated to Shila Mata (an aspect of Goddess Kali), the patron goddess of the royal family.
Jagat Shiromani Temple: The beautifully carved shrine is located at the foothills of the Amber Palace. It enshrines an idol of Lord Krishna and is regarded as one of the marvels of Indian temple architecture.
Jaigarh (15 kms.)
This hill-top fortress overlooks the palaces and the old town of Amber. It was built by Maharaja Jai Singh II in 1726 and is among the few fortresses of medieval India which are still preserved, almost intact. Within its rugged bastions are beautiful palaces, and gardens. Jai Ban’, the world’s biggest cannon on wheels is placed here. It has a 20 ft long barrel and the wheels are 9 ft. in diameter.
Nahargarh (15 kms.)
It is the third hilltop fort guarding the Jaipur city and was initially built by Sawai Jai Singh in 1734 and later enlarged by Sawai Ram Singh.
The small town is famous for the beautifully carved Jain temples and palace ruins. It is also renowned for hand block printed textiles and hand -made paper.
Samode (40 kms.)
This quaint village is known for the Samode Palace of the Nathawat family. It is now a famous heritage hotel. Other attractions are Samode Garden and Samode Haveli.