Jaipur - burst of rouge
In Rajasthan, 336 km E of Jaipur
Go there for :
Palaces, Forts, Palace on Wheels Luxury Train
26°-40°C (Sum); 8°-22°C (Win)
When to Go:
Oct - Feb
Tourist Help Desk :
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).
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.
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).
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Flanking Jaigarh, perched atop a picturesque hill, is the Nahargarh
, 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.
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
onto the enchanted desertland of Jaisalmer
or dare the sand dunes at