Dr. Paramita Mishra
One of the largest States in India, Rajasthan, is a traveller’s delight. Its capital city, Jaipur, popularly known as the Pink City, is a mixture of history and modernity. Accessible by all means of transport, airways, roadways, and railways, reaching it is quite easy from any part of the continent. Founded in 1727 by Jai Singh II, Raja of Ajmer, the city, the largest in Northern India epitomizes the opulence and grandeur of the aristocracy that once symbolized the Royal families of India. The name Pink City is justified by the pink coloured buildings spread across the old city area.
One of the major hotspots and tourist attractions in the Pink City is the City Palace which besides being a landmark is also an insight into the rich grand heritage of a bygone era. While the breathtaking view of the entire pink city from the palace is enchanting, the prodigious architecture of the palace interior is a fusion of Rajput, Mughal and European styles. Also admirable are the famous ‘Chandra Mahal’ and ‘Mubarak Mahal’ and other buildings which form a significant part of the palace complex. The Chandra Mahal has now been converted into a museum which is home to unique handcrafted products various uniforms of the rulers and many other artefacts pertaining to the Royal heritage.
The city also encloses the famous ‘Hawa Mahal’, The Palace of Winds, a five story palace, characterized by its pyramid shape and 953 windows popularly known as “Jharokas” decorated with intricate designs. The Mahal was built with the intention to facilitate the royal women to enjoy fresh air and catch glimpses of everyday life through the windows as they were barred from making a public appearance. It provides an excellent view of the city and also houses an archaeological museum. The main architect of this palace, an embodiment of Rajputana architecture and built of red and pink sandstone, is Lal Chand Ustad and the palace is believed to be constructed in the form of the crown of Lord Krishna.
About 11 kms from the city is the Amer Fort, one of the most famous forts of Rajasthan. Built by Raja Man Singh in 1952, it is also called the Amer palace and is built in red sandstone and marble. The fort looks very old from outside but its interiors are a tourist’s delight. It boasts of various buildings of prominence like the Diwani-i-Aam, the Sheesh Mahal, the Sukh Mahal and the centre of attraction the Maotha Lake. One can find the combined influences of both Hindu and Muslim architecture on the ceilings and walls. Shila Devi temple and the Ganesh Pol, a gate leading to the private palaces of the kings, are the major attractions besides the many pavilions and antique elements on display. A widely spread area, the Fort requires a quite long time for thorough visitation, with the famous Royal Elephant ride being a part of the fun.
Another opulent structure built in the early 18th century is the Jaigarh Fort, a palatial structure perched on the ‘Cheel ka Teela hills’, much like a jewel on a crown. Designed by a talented architect called Vidyadhar, the fort is a regal reminder of the city’s affluent history and is named after its builder Raja Jai Singh II. Architecturally similar to the Amer Fort, it houses the world’s largest cannon on wheels, a majestic palace complex and the assembly hall of the warriors known as Shubhat Niwas, along with a museum and an armoury. Apart from the intricate architecture of the fort, it is also renowned for a huge treasure that was believed to be buried under the fort. The Government of Rajasthan is believed to have seized the treasure when it was discovered in the 1970s. The Fort known for its strongest built was never conquered by any warrior.
Abode of tigers, the Nahargarh Fort, located in the Aravalli mountain ranges provides a breathtaking view of its scenic surroundings. Connected to the Jaigarh Fort through its fortifications, it was built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, founder of Jaipur. It is believed that the spirit of a Rathore prince, Nahar Singh Bhomia obstructed the construction of this Fort and had to be pacified by building a temple dedicated to him inside the fort premises. Based on Indo-European architecture, this is a two storey building which has suites for the king and his 12 queens. Divided into nine similar apartments, each of these apartments is furnished with a lobby, bedrooms, toilets, kitchen, and store. The palace also includes Diwan – i- Aam, an open-air enclosure where the king met the commoners to heed to their grievances.
If palaces enrapture the visitors by their architecture, the observatory, Jantar Mantar, one of the largest in the world, is a combination of religion, science, and art, and houses the world’s largest sundial. It was the interest in the Universe and Cosmos that inspired Maharaja Jai Singh II to build this ingeniously designed magnificent astronomical observatory which is a pride of the country. The instruments and formulas designed and used here have been inviting interests and admiration of astronomers, historians, architects and all others around the world. These instruments here offer precise measurements of time, the azimuth, and declination of the sun and positions of constellations along with several other astronomical phenomena. The astronomical observatory consists of 14 major geometric devices for measuring time, tracking constellations and observing the orbits around the sun. A must see in Jaipur, this intriguing structure is a resplendent reminder of the royal heritage of Jaipur and stands as a royal testimony to a former epoch.
Besides these historical monuments, the Pink City endorses the ethnic flamboyance of garments usually made from vegetable dyes and natural herbs. Factories are spread all over where these fabrics are stitched to suit the eyes of all varieties. The significantly unique feature is the fast colour which doesn’t fade away. A shopper’s delight, Jaipur is a haven for the buyers of clothes and jewelry of precious stones.
The ethnic Rajasthani cuisine can be tasted in the ever famous Gourmet’s delight, Chowki Dhani, where all traditional dishes are served in a warm hospitable manner, to suit the taste buds. Along with food, the place encompasses the diversity of Rajasthan, the village ambiance, the paintings, the Bani Thani Art, the folk dance performances, the snake charmer’s plays, the magic shows, and many other things. It offers an insight view of Rajasthan encapsulated in a very formidable manner to leave the tourist fascinated and desirous to revisit.
The author is an academician with experience of 20 years, soft skill trainer, freelancer and currently heading a school as the Principal