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Friday, May 21, 2010

Jaipur -The Pink City

 Jaipur is best known as 'Pink City'  because of the pink painted building in the old part of the city. It is said to be the first planned city in India. Jaipur, the capital city of Rajasthan, is located in the desert lands and was home to the Rajputs.

 I reached Jaipur at around 8pm and quickly took a room near to the Bus stand. We had nothing to do at that time but to take rest. The next day was going to be the day to explore Jaipur. We had a deep sleep . And  in the next day morning took an Auto Rikshaw and proceeded towards the Old city. It is where most of the monuments like Hawa Mahal, City Palace etc are located.

Entrance to Old City

We can feel the difference while entering the old city, where you will be surrounded by pink colored buildings. The first stop was 'Govind Dev Ji Mandir'.  Govind Dev ji is an incarnation of the Lord Krishna. You can see a number of people  singing 'jai Govind'  chants. They are seen singing it continuously for a long time (may be as long as the darshan is there) and it creates an awesome atmosphere there. Another interesting thing you may see is that some people will be
distributing 'Laddoos' in the temple premises. Laddoo is the prasadam in this temple. Whoever buys this prasadam will distribute it immediately. This temple is a part of the city palace complex. You will have a good view of the Nawalgarh fort, which borders Jaipur in the northern side, from this temple.

The City Palace, also inside old city, is well known for its beautiful art and architecture. It was constructed by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh during his reign. Part of this palace complex is still occupied by the current Maharaja. The main buildings inside the complex are Chandra Mahal, Mubarak Mahal, Mukut Mahal, Maharani's Palace and the City Palace Museum. One can see Mubarak Mahal while entering the palace. Diwan-I-Khas(hall for private audience) and Diwan-I-Am(hall for public audience) comes next.

City Palace
By seeing this, one can only imagine that how rich these kings were. The Diwan-I-Aam in particular, is an  impressive construction.  At that time a recent news about the infighting  between heirs to the throne of Jaipur, after the death of queen Gaythri Devi, came into my mind. 

Another view of city palace

 Next we went to the famous Hawa Mahal. It is very near to the City palace. It is a pyramid like palace having five stories. It is believed to be built for the royal women  so that they can watch the processions and activities in the street without showing themselves. These ladies were observed strict 'purda' and were not allowed to come in public. that is why Hawa Mahal has many tiny windows and screened balconies. It is best known for its amazing view of the city from the balcony. And most people visit this in the morning, when the sun is rising. The golden rays passing through the tiny windows will create an amazing view.

Hawa Mahal
 Jantar Mantir is another monument inside old city. It is an astronomical observatory built by Maharaj Jai Singh. This observatory contain multiple buildings of unique form, each with a specific astronomical functions. Most of the instruments  become functional only in the night because they are based on the shadows created by the moon. But only students and scientists are allowed at that time. Anyway I couldn't understand exactly how these instruments work. 

Jantar Mantir
Thus our tour inside the old city had completed. We did some shopping in between, because my friend had to leave in the afternoon. The autowala said an interesting information, 40% of jaipur's population earns its living from tourism and another 30% from textile industry. You can find many shops selling Rajasthan hand products in Jaipur.

Albert Hall museum was the next destination, which is situated outside old city. The museum is housed in an impressive building. It contains a rare collection of textiles, paintings, handicrafts, weapons, an Egyptian Mummy etc.

Albert Hall Museum

With this, the tour of the city had completed. We had a typical Rajasthan Meals including Dal Batti  for the lunch. My friend was leaving for Hyderabad in the afternoon flight. So I decided to take rest and visit some more places in the evening.

 Amber Fort is located at about 11 km from Jaipur. It was the ancient fortress of the ruling Kachhawa clan. Initially the city was located near to Amber fort, later it was shifted to Pink city. You can see lot of ruins lying around this fort. It is said that princess Jodha wed Akbar in one of the ruined palaces. The Jaigarh Fort overlooks the Amber Fort and palace complex. There is a famous Kali temple inside the fort.  When I visited there I could see a long queue of people, mainly women, waiting for darshan. 

 You can get elephant safari from the foot of the hill to the Amber fort, which is at a distance of 1.5 km . But it cost around Rs 900. But I found a guide at the foot of the hill and he took me to the fort through a short cut road  which goes through one ruined Sun Temple in the side of the Fort. This road took only five minutes for me.  Looks like not many tourists know about that road.

Inside Amber Fort
Amber Fort

 On the way back from Amber I visited Jal Mahal, which was a summer palace for the kings. It was built in the middle of a lake. The entry is not allowed now, since some renovation work is going on. But it is a very beautiful structure as seen from outside.

Jal Mahal

With this my Jaipur tour was over. I had an evening walk  after some time and did some shopping also. I had heard about some famous markets like Indira bazar, Nehru bazar, Chotti chouper and Badi chouper, but I couldn't visit them.  And I took the Delhi- Jaisalmer Express in the midnight to go to Jaisalmer.

The full set of photos are available here.

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