The Lure of the Ancient and the Vibes of Royalty that can be felt at India’s Pink City

With the colour pink showcasing its shimmering hue in almost every avenue of Rajasthan’s capital city, Jaipur also exhibits its finest shades of ancient royalty even today with the palaces and other infrastructure of the erstwhile Rajput kings and queens standing tall in pride amongst the awestruck people goggling over its brilliance. If you are the one who like to soak yourselves in a present day fairytale scenario, Jaipur is the perfect place to visit. Meanwhile, shopaholics will also have a whale of time in the pretty historical Pink City of India as the place is full of unique remarkable souvenirs like blue pottery, wooden handicrafts and Rajasthani puppets in addition to colourful embroidered clothes and things of glitter like meenakari, kundan jewellery along with other varieties of precious and semi-precious ornaments.

Some of the important landmarks of tourism of Jaipur which should not be missed for world while on a tour of sightseeing-

Amber Fort

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A classic example of Rajasthani architecture which attracts hordes of tourists and is one of the most popular and stunning memorabilia of ancient Rajput royalty is the Amber Fort. Built by Raja Maan Singh I in 1592, Amber Fort is made of sandstone and marble and comprises of a series of gates, courtyards, halls and gardens covered with high ramparts. As the palace is situated on a hilltop and overlooks the Maota Lake at the forefront, it looks quite like the castles of the fantasy tales. Although Amber Fort is located in the town of Amer, which is located about 11 kilometres from Jaipur, people always make a point to go there to admire its beauty. To reach the entrance at the top, you can either walk uphill, ride on elephant back, go by jeep, golf cart, or take your vehicle. Out of the four courtyards in the palace, the first is the Jaleb Chowk which was used by the soldiers of yore for conducting trainings or practice. The second courtyard houses the Diwan-i-Aam or the Hall of Public Audience featuring a number of intricately ornate pillars.  The third courtyard has two buildings separated by an ornamental garden constructed in the Mughal style. One of the buildings is known as Diwan-i-Khaas or the Hall of Private Audience. It is the most attractive feature of Amber Fort as it has designs of intricate mosaic work in glasses or mirrors. Known as Sheesh Mahal, the extraordinary fact of this hall is that if someone burns two candles here, then the reflection converts that small light into thousands of stars. The other building of the third courtyard is known as Shukh Niwas or the Hall of Pleasure where the king reportedly enjoyed with his ladies. The rear part of Amber Fort or the fourth courtyard had the palace of the king and the zenana ie. Women’s Quarters. A sound and light show narrating the history of Amber Fort is also shown near the lake.

Hawa Mahal

Source : Times of India

Unlike Amber Fort which is located quite far away from the main public streets and is a bit difficult to access, Hawa Mahal is located at the heart of India’s Pink City at Badi Choupad area. Another classic construction of the Rajput royalty, the best thing about the location of Hawa Mahal is that you can goggle over the large number of honeycomb shaped and beautifully carved windows from the car itself while driving by the streets of Jaipur. It was built by Sawai Pratap Singh in 1799 as an extension to the Royal City Palace to allow the royal ladies of the Rajput families to enjoy the scenes of the streets without being seen by the general public. As the practice of the Purdah System was religiously followed in those days, the five-storeyed sandstone palace was constructed for the royal ladies in the form of Lord Krishna’s crown because Sawai Pratap Singh was an ardent devotee of the Lord. The windows which are the most attractive feature of Hawa Mahal are 953 in number. Despite the large number of windows, each of them are the size of a peep hole. The interiors of the monuments have colourful glassworks and the narrow hallways have ramps instead of steps as it was used to ferry queens in palanquins. If you want to get a perfect bird’s eye view of India’s Pink City in a royal way, the Hawa Mahal is the ideal place for you to visit. The design of the monument literally seem to give you a brief picture or story in your mind about the lifestyle of the Rajput royalty.

Jantar Mantar

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An architectural masterpiece of ancient astronomical observatory, Jantar Mantar was constructed by Sawai Jai Singh II in 1734. Although the conglomeration of fixed stones and large structures may appear as just another example of infrastructure of the times gone by, these are in reality some of the old astronomical instruments that was used to measure the movement of celestial objects and depict the occurrence of astronomical events in space. Among the nineteen ancient astronomical instruments present in Jantar Mantar, the most famous and interesting one is the Samrat Yantra which is the world’s largest stone sundial. The Jantar Mantar was constructed due to Sawai Jai Singh II’s vast interest in astronomy. The name jantar is derived from yantra a Sanskrit word, meaning “instrument, machine”, and mantar from mantrana also a Sanskrit word meaning “consult, calculate.” Therefore, Jantar Mantar literally means ‘calculating instrument’. To get detailed information about each structure in Jantar Mantar, a local tourist guide is absolutely necessary as he / she can only relate the scientific purpose and the ways in which each astronomical instrument was used. It is a must-visit place in your Jaipur itinerary as it will give you a sneak peek of the usage of science in days of yore.

 City Palace

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With a pretty conglomeration of Rajput, European and Mughal style of architecture, the City Palace is a finest masterpiece that was built under Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II after he moved his court to Jaipur from Amber in 1727. Although it houses the present day royal family of Jaipur, it is one of the most visited places by tourists while on sightseeing tours of Jaipur. Built out of red and pink sandstone, this palace has vast courtyards surrounded by several arched smaller palaces. From the gorgeous outfits that are on display at Mubarak Mahal to the royal weapons and their mode of transportation that are housed at Sileh Khana and Baaghi Khana respectively, you can get a to review the regalia of the Rajputs under one roof at the City Palace. The public and private assembly halls known as Diwan-e-Aam and Diwan-e-Khaas are also not to be missed as the richness is shown in full spendour here right from the king’s throne, the courtiers’ chairs and the presence of gigantic crystal chandeliers in addition to the decorative walls, doors and floors.

Jal Mahal

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The Rajputs have not only created architectural marvels on land but they have left their glory behind on the surface of water too. Located on the Amer-Jaipur road, Jal Mahal appears to be a picturesque sight on the calm blue waters of the Manasagar Lake. Due to the intricate designs on its sandstone structure amidst a lake, it is a photo-friendly site which attracts hordes of tourists. The palace lit up in all its glory at night time with a magnificent golden glow. To take some memorable snapshots which will retain its charm over the years, Jal Mahal is an ideal place for you to visit. Apart from taking gorgeous photo shoots, who wouldn’t like to soak in an ambience of fairytale that plays so ethereally before the eyes in reality?

Nahargarh Fort

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A royal palace situated in a hill just like the Amber Fort, Nahargarh Fort is also one of the most visited locations of Jaipur. Unlike Hawa Mahal where you can get only a small view of India’s Pink City through a casement window, Nahargarh Fort is a wonderful place to soak in the breathtaking views of Jaipur in the open as it is situated in the Aravalli mountain ranges. Built by Maharaj Sawai Jai Singh II in 1734 mainly as a strong defence for Jaipur, Nahargarh means ‘abode of tigers’ and was named so after the big cat which once frequented the forests of the mountain. The two main temples in Nahargarh Fort are the one dedicated to the deity of the past inhabitants of the Fort and another dedicated to a prince named Nahar Singh Bhomia. It is believed that the spirit of the prince haunted the place and hindered the construction of the fort due to which Maharaj Sawai Jai Singh II decided to build a temple in his name following which  the fort was completed successfully. The most spectacular part of the Fort is the Madhavendra Bhawan built by Sawai Madho Singh for each of his twelve wives. The identical suites of the queens which were all luxuriously furnished connect to the king’s suite through mural-filled corridors. It is said that the rooms for the queens were built in such a way that when the king visited one of them, it would not be known by the other ladies.

Albert Hall Museum

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You will be missing out a lot if you do not visit the Albert Hall Museum located in the Ram Niwas Garden of Jaipur. Built in the Indo-Saracenic architectural style, the museum derives its name from London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. After opening it to the public in 1887, the museum was chosen as a place for showcasing the items of pride of Rajasthan following the permission of the king Madho Singh II. Although the murals on the corridors of the museum give a beautiful idea about the lifestyle of various ancient civilizations across the world, you will be astounded with the variety of artifacts shown across its sixteen galleries. From pottery, paintings, sculpture works in various materials to the varieties of jewellery, garments and carpets, the Albert Hall Museum is indeed a place of learning in addition to being a sight to behold.

Museum of Gem and Jewellery

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One of the most special museums located in the Rajasthan Chambers Building, the Museum of Gem and Jewellery should always be there on your itinerary of the Pink City if you have a fascination for rich gemstones which tells about the status and richness of a particular society. From a story behind its making to how it was traded, each piece of jewel has a tale worth listening to and be amazed at the glitter and exuberance showcased at its fullest in the building. Apart from having a gift shop where customers can buy precious sources of glitter for their loved ones to being a storehouse of exquisite jewellery pieces, it also holds regular workshops, seminars, and conferences on mining, cutting, polishing, and jewellery designing. As it is one of the most vibrant museums in the country, it has the capacity of enthralling every mortal whoever steps his/her foot in it.