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Jaipur India

Jaipur - burst of rouge
Location :
In Rajasthan, 336 km E of Jaipur
Go there for :
Palaces, Forts, Palace on Wheels Luxury Train
Climate :
26°-40°C (Sum); 8°-22°C (Win)
When to Go:
Oct - Feb
Local Tongue:
Marwari, Hindi
Tourist Help Desk :
Dial '1364'
STD Code :
+91 - 141
The land of golden sands, Rajasthan has its Capital at a city dyed pink in 1876, by Maharaja Man Singh II (Sawai Jai Singh) apparently to impress the Prince of Wales. This is Jaipur, fondly nicknamed the Pink City, famed for its plethora of palaces, a shopaholics apple-pie for its beatific indigenous products and its capacity to hypnotize the visitors into believing - here is another world.

Tale of the City
It took eight years to complete Jaipur, India's first planned city - laid down in "Shilpa Shastra" - an ancient Indian treatise on architecture. After independence, Jaipur became the administrative and commercial capital of what was known as Rajputana. And regarding its pink dye, legends are many. But the most accepted is the British lore that the Maharajah got the buildings washed pink because that is the color of hospitality. The city is painted pink once every 10 years by the Municipal Corporation, and in 2000 the painting was timed for a state visit, this time by former U.S. president Bill Clinton.

And if you can afford some time-management, the festivals are an excellent time to come. The city takes on a different hue altogether, brighter even then its signature pink, during the Elephant Festival (March), Gangur (March-April) and Teej (July-August).

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A walk through the lanes of the Pink city will seem to momentarily transport you to a different world altogether. The century old palatial monuments seem to have so irrefutably held on to their ancient glory that at times, while staring at them, you suddenly hallucinate seeing some king walk down the stairs in that same proud gait.

Amber Fort : Amber Fort the ancient capital of the State until 1728. Visit the Jag Mandir or the Hall of victory glittering with mirrors, Jai Mahal and Temple of Kali. Ascend on Elephant back, the hill, on which the fort is situated.
City Palace
The City Palace: This is where the heart of Jaipur is! Spread across almost one-seventh part of the city, this erstwhile palace-turned-museum, echoing a fusion of Mughal and Rajasthani architecture, of the royal family where is housed arms and ammunition, costume, rare piece of art, Chandra Mahal, Mubarak Mahal, and Diwan-i-Khas (House of Dignitaries) and Diwan-i-Am (House of Commons).

Jantar Mantar: The five astronomic observatories are Sawai Jai Singh products. Before constructing this and the four others, he sent his emissaries to all corners to the world, who returned with many manuals of cutting-edge technology including a copy of La Hire's Tables. No wonder the Jantar Mantar, as it came to be called, was to some wonder of its kind and in fact 20 seconds more accurate than that given by La Hire. Out of the five of his observatories in India, the one here at Jaipur is the only one running fine even now. Situated within the City Palace Complex, go there and explore it at leisure.

Hawa Mahal: The Palace of the Wind, used to be the royal zenana or the private chambers of the ladies from where they would view the activities of the city. Today tourists visit, mostly during October to February, to bathe themselves in the wallowing wind and sweep the entire Pink City at one glance from its pristine heights.

Jaigarh Fort: Situated north of Jaipur, Jaigarh Fort or the Victory Fort (open daily 9am-4:30pm) houses the world's largest cannon (Jaivan). Structurally it reminisces the Amber fort, just that the three water holes, a regal museum and of course some eclectic views it commands, make is singularly special.
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Central Museum: The plush city garden Ram Niwas Bagh, houses in its heart the Albert Hall or the Central Museum with arched pillars, courtyards adorned with murals and a world of miniature paintings, ivory carvings, costumed mannequins, shields depicting scenes from the Hindu epics - all standing as insignia's of an unparalleled regal past.

Temples: Delhi's Birla Mandir cousin is the Birla Mandir or the Laxmi Narayan Temple at Jaipur, situated south of the city and built in pure white-marble with three imposing domes. The Govind Devji Temple, Moti Doongari, Akshardham Temple (at Vaishali Nagar), Jain Mandir (Shivdas Pura) are the other noted temples you should flock to.

Festivals in Jaipur: The Elephant Festival is held every year in March/April to celebrate Holi and is held the day after Holi. Elephants are beautifully decorated and paraded along with camels, horses and folk dancers, musicians, lancers on horseback, cannons, fleet of palanquins, chariots. The main attractions are Beauty Peagant for Elephants, Elephant races, Elephant polo matches and the most interesting - tug of war between elephants and men. And the venue is Chaugan Stadium.

The Gangaur Festival (celebrated all over Rajasthan) is another significant event of Jaipur event. . This is the best time to land in Jaipur and partake in the fun-fare and watch the famous procession of decorated elephants, camels, horses and palanquins, taken from City Palace Gate to Talkatora, en route Chaugan.
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In case you have vaguest of hint of what shopping in Mumbai and Delhi means, Jaipur markets are going to keep you as busy and ready to drop in the end. Foreigners pick in bulk from the wholesale outlets the Jaipuri specialties. Semi-precious stones, miniatures, handicrafts, Kota doria sarees, ethnic garments, souvenirs of a zillion kind - are what the Jaipur markets are known for.

For jewelery (Kundan jewellery) and gems, flock to Johari Bazaar in the Old City, the gem center of Jaipur. The cutting, polishing, and selling of gems and the making of silver jewelry take place in the predominantly Muslim area of Pahar Ganj in the Surajpol Bazaar. For those who just can't do without bargaining, these jewelery joints might be a disappointment, but your money will be worth the quality of the wares here.
Shopping in Jaipur
You will notice some typical footwear abundantly displayed in the markets. Its the famed Jaipuri jootis (traditional camel-hide sandals). Women can head straight to Chameliwala Market, beyond Zarawar Singh Gate, on Amber Road for some intricately carved silver pendants and flamboyant tribal jewelery. Once here you can shop hand-blocked prints garments and antiques, Jaipur's famous blue pottery (Jaipur Blue Pottery Art Center has authentic buys), vases, trays, coasters and wall plates. Jaipuri razai or quilts are light weight and extremely warm.

Jaipuri tie-and-die fabrics, finest one is called bandhani (meaning 'to tie'), with crinkly circles (you will have to see them to really understand the interesting handiwork), are best at Bapu Bazaar (near Johari Bazaar; closed Sun). For block-print fabrics head to the Jaipur Airport area at Sanganer, a village 15 km south of Jaipur, known as the birthplace of block work and home to the largest handmade-paper industry in India. For fabrics check out Shilpi Handicrafts, Anokhi and Sakshi, and Salim's for handmade paper. In fact brass and lacquer work, enamel work, gems and jewelery, granite tiles, handloom, marble statues, printed cloth and textiles, ready made garments, woolen and silk carpets form Jaipur's main items of export.

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The conglomeration of tourists have ensured a fairly toothsome diaspora of delicacies from the kitchens of India and from across the globe. This is Jaipur, where they believe "Annam Brahma", or 'Food is God'. An authentic meal (Rajasthani thali) begins with a tangy papad mangori soup and comes with traditional ker sangri (capers and desert beans), Rajasthani kadhi (dumplings in a yogurt sauce), five different vegetables, and three kinds of bread. The legendary paneer ghewar (honeycomb-like dessert soaked in sugary syrup) rounds off the meal. Interestingly, at places, these are well seasoned to infatuate your Log Angeles tongue.
Cuisine in Jaipur
You will find a legion of restaurants along M.I. Road, which is also the main shopping drag outside the Old City. Your sightseeing tour to the City Palace can be spiced up with a visit to the Palace Cafe, inside the palace walls near the Jaleb Chowk entrance (Mon-Fri: 9am-6pm, Sat-Sun: 9-11am). For traditional Rajasthani food the Lakshmi Mishtaan Bhandar is the best bet, with its specialty 'ghewar'. Panghat, at the Taj Rambagh's amphitheater, is a blend of traditional pampering and cocktails. For a taste of real Rajasthan, complete with heat and dust, drive out to Tonk Road.

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After an exhausting camel ride safari, drop in at the Choki Dhani (22 km out of the city), a must-go where your meals will be tangoed with doses of folk performances in the backdrop.

Across the road from Niros is Lassiwalla, where the chilling yogurt drink served in large terracotta mug (can be kept as a memento).

The elephant festival is held March/April to celebrate Holi and is held the day after Holi. Elephants are beautifully decorated and paraded in a procession along with camels, horses and folk dances. There are also elephant races, elephant polo matches as well as a tug of war between elephants and men. Usually held at the Chaugan Stadium.

Mehendi: This temporary form of skin decoration (tattoo-like in shades of orange) is very popular and women apply it on their hands and feet during festivals. The designs are another intricate handiwork and female tourists must try a hand at it.
Bidis: You will notice the localites smoking a different type of mini cigarettes here. Well, these are called 'bidis' or Indian cigarettes wrapped in a species of dried leaf. Without the filter, this is more harmful than the cigarette and the sad news is (according to a survey), the bidi is gaining roaring popularity in the US (ever since its introduction in the early 90s) where they are sold for some $1.50-$4.00 per pack and are available in different flavors (cherry, chocolate, etc). As per the survey report, 642 teens, 40% had smoked bidis at least once during their lifetimes and 16% were current bidi smokers. Are we are definitely not encouraging you to try one!

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Flanking Jaigarh, perched atop a picturesque hill, is the Nahargarh Fort, another example of Sawai Jai Singh's exquisite taste. Its present look is however a Sawai Madho Singh makeover. Some exotic locales peppered around and the breat-taking view of the sunset make it a much sought picnicking destination. Just below it is Gaitor - a walled garden that houses the marble chhatris erected over cremation platforms of the Kachchwaha rulers. Farther along Amber Road is the Jal Mahal, a 18th century lake palace originally built by Sawai Pratap Singh.

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About 8 km east of Jaipur, on the Jaipur-Agra highway is the terraced Sisodia Rani Ka Bagh (the Garden of Sisodia Queen) created by the Queen of Jai Singh II as an escape from the court intrigues. Behind the gardens, is perched the Hanuman (monkey God) temple, where the spectacle of hundreds of monkeys swarming to be fed by the priests is one that will go your camera clicking on and on. A little farther, along the Agra road is pretty Galta, a gorge filled with sacred kunds (natural pools or reservoirs), all fed by pure spring water that falls from a rock resembling a carved cow's mouth, and surrounded by temples.

Hop Next to: Continue your rendezvous with the land of regal heritage, Rajasthan, to the beautiful city of lakes of Udaipur, the stunning fort of Jodhpur and onto the enchanted desertland of Jaisalmer or dare the sand dunes at Bikaner.

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