Jaipur, also popularly known as the 'Pink City' of India is the capital of Rajasthan State and about 245 km from Delhi that takes approximately 4.5 hours by car and a few hours by Train. This Pink City is one of the top and preferred tourist destinations of India filled with Palaces, Forts, Heritage sites, vibrant culture, folk music, dance and old Rajput traditions of the Rajasthani people that transport you back to the bygone era when Kings and Queens used to reign. Hence, if you are looking for an excellent weekend getaway then Jaipur would be the ideal place to visit that literally allows you to relive ancient times since all the tourist attractions are nearby and the tour can easily be completed in 2 days.
Jaipur was originally founded in 1727 by King Sawai Jai Singh II who was a renowned Astronomer, Mathematician and Astro-physicist and ruled between 1699 and 1744. Due to the growing population and scarcity of water in Amer, the first capital city of Rajasthan, the King decided to move his capital to a better location. The king consulted a few books on architecture and along with his Accounts Clerk, Vidyadar Bhattacharya; they laid out a plan for the new capital city, 'Jaipur' and also designed the Royal Palace in the heart of the city. Jaipur took shape in 1727 after 4 years and had 9 blocks of which 7 were allotted for the common people and 2 contained the City Palace and State buildings.
Jaipur was also the first advanced city with exquisite architecture and planning that prompted the Prince of Wales who visited this city in 1853. For his welcome, King Sawai Ram Singh had the entire city painted in 'Pink' colour and probably after which this town was named the Pink City making it unique and distinct in the world map.
Hawa Mahal which means the 'Palace of Winds' or the 'Palace of cool breeze' was constructed by King Sawai Pratap Singh in 1799 and designed by an architect named Lal Chand Ustad using the inspiration of the crown of Lord Krishna. It is a 5 storied single pyramid shaped tall wall with a total of 953 tiny windows running across each floor known as 'Jharokhas' seen with intricate latticework. This Palace is made of pink and red sandstone and is a part of the City Palace that extends to the Ladies Chamber and made with the sole purpose to allow the Royal Ladies to observe the daily life of the city through those tiny windows as the 'Purdah' or 'Covering the Face' system was a strict rule observed by all women in those days. The Palace is also built and designed with perfect precision to allow the cool breeze to automatically flow seamlessly through these windows providing respite to these Royal Ladies during summers and hence, the name originated.
Amber Fort, formerly known as Amer Fort lies 11 km from Jaipur and was the original capital city of Rajasthan and an ancient Citadel of the reigning Kachwahas Kinship of Amer. It was built by the Meenas in honour of Goddess Amba and construction initially started in 1592 by King Man Singh who was then the Commander in Chief of the Army of Emperor Akbar and also one of the nine courtiers or Jewels of the Emperor and later completed by his descendant, King Sawai Jai Singh-I. Over the past 150 years, this fort was modified numerous times by the successive Kings of the State. This Fort exudes the charm of Hindu and Mughal architecture that lies on the base of a Hill bordering the Maota Lake providing a breathtaking view of the surrounding area and the city. A large number of Tourists throng to this Site by riding on elephants or by car.
Jaigarh Fort lies 15 km from Jaipur and lies on a Hill from where you get an aerial view of the Amer Fort and both are connected by a well protected and guarded passage that is opened to public only during special occasions and at all times to the Royal Family of Jaipur. This is one of the most beautiful forts intact with all the basic facilities and also homes the World's Largest Cannon on two huge wheels named 'Jaivana'. There is a 5 km long canal that directs the rainwater through a drain like passage filtering the water through various nets that were specially made to block even the tiniest dirt. This filtered rainwater finally collects in an underground reservoir or tank providing drinking and cooking water to over 10000 soldiers who guarded and lived in small quarters of this fort. The Tank measures 158 feet in length and 138 feet in width and 40 feet deep that stores 6 million gallons of water. If you visit here, do try this water as it is actually safe to drink and sweet in taste. The Indian Government also emptied this tank in 1976 after it was rumoured to hold a large hidden treasure of the Royal Family beneath it but nothing was found. This fort also homes Granaries, Treasuries, Museums and several Palaces and can be reached by riding on an elephant or by car. It offers you with an engrossing view of the almost barren hills of the Aravalli ranges and the Partial Desert of Rajasthan.
Nahargarh Fort lies on the edge of the Aravalli Hills and overlooks the 'Pink City', Jaipur. The name means 'the Abode of Tigers' and legend states that Prince Nahar nicknamed 'Tiger' in his time had haunted this Fort obstructing any construction. The Fort was built by King Sawai Jai Singh-II in 1734 but lies in partial ruins today. It has nine small Palaces or Apartments where the 9 Queens and wives of the King stayed and is also known to be the Hunting retreat of the Kings of the State. If you take an aerial view of the town, all the three forts namely, Amer Fort, Jaigarh Fort and this fort forms a formidable ring around the city guarding it strongly from the enemies. This Fort also sheltered many Europeans during the Revolt of the Sepoy in 1857 that created havoc across the State.
The City Palace of Jaipur is a beautiful Palace Complex built between 1729 and 1732 by King Sawai Jai Singh-II that lies in the heart of the City and holds a beautiful garden, buildings and Courtyards. Now, the ground and first floor of this Palace has been converted into a museum for tourists to view through the large gallery of the memorabilia of the King and the Royal Families and also displays Kashmiri Pashminas, exquisitely embroidered Shawls and Silk Saris. It also forms a part of King Sawai Man Singh-II museum that displays 15th Century Weapons, Miniature Paintings of Persian, Mughal and Rajasthan schools, Arts, Carpets, Enamelware, Costumes and Uniforms of the Kings and Queens and their Royal families.
The Mubarak Mahal was used as the reception hall for foreign dignitaries and actually means 'Welcome Palace'. It forms a part of the City Palace Complex and built by King Sawai Madho Singh in the 19th Century AD and has an exquisitely carved gate made of Marble with Heavy Brass Doors. The Diwan-E-Aam forms a part of this Palace courtyard that was built in 1760 before the Palace was constructed and means the 'Hall of Public Audience' where the King used to hold meetings with the representatives of the public. It is now an art gallery decorated with beautiful Rajasthani motifs, chandeliers, intricately painted ceilings studded with semi precious stones and walls painted with Dark Red and Gold colours that add that extra glamour and charm to the Palace. The Art Gallery displays a variety of collections of the King including Life-size portraits of the entire Royal Family, Persian and Sanskrit manuscripts and miniatures. The Library displays the Ramayana and Mahabharata epics and Abdul Fazal's exquisite work and art and a few other very talented artists who belonged to the court of Emperor Akbar.
Chandra Mahal which means 'Moon Palace' is a part of the City Palace Complex and is the current residence of the King of Jaipur named Bhavani Singh and his Royal Family with each floor named according to its speciality and purpose. The Imperial or Royal Flag was hoisted and raised to indicate that the King is in residence and flagged down when the King is not in town. Sukh Niwas which means the 'Resting Hall' has the Living and Dining Areas of the Royal Family. It is well decorated with miniatures of the Mughal era, European Silverware, Peep-holes carved with Gold Leafs for Ventilation. The Shobha Niwas which means 'Hall of Beauty' lies on the 4th Floor of the Palace and decorated with mirror encrusted walls, glittering Gold Leafs and mica decor and blue coloured tiled dadoes. The Chhavi Niwas or 'Hall of Images' lies on the 5th floor of the Palace and is the retreat area of the King during the monsoon season. It is decorated with blue and white wall painting and Floor polish of eggshell stucco. The 6th Floor of the palace is decorated with stucco floor and mirror ceiling and has a row of double columns which offers a breathtaking view of the surrounding area and the Aravalli Hills. Finally, the Mukut Niwas which means the 'Crown Hall' forms the 7th Floor and is the topmost level of this Palace. The Palace is not opened to Public visits and still remains the private residence of the Royal Family.
Jal Mahal literally means 'Water Palace' and lies in the centre of the Man Sagar Lake and was finally restored by King Jai Singh-II in the 18th Century. Post monsoon, when the Lake fills up, it is reachable by boat or the causeway; however, the Palace is uninhabited and not visited by tourists but many do get a glimpse of the Palace from the banks of the Lake. This Lake got polluted due to sewage dumping and pollution and since 2001; the Government of Rajasthan has undertaken renovation measures.
The Central Museum is also known as the 'Albert Hall Museum' that lies in Ram Niwas Garden in the centre of Jaipur and was built in 1868 by King Sawai Ram Singh-II. The Garden also houses a Greenhouse, Sports area and a Zoo with under nourished birds and animals that are pushed to survive in an artificial atmosphere and environment with no medical care or sympathy. The museum displays Rajasthani Culture and Artwork, Collection of portraits, paintings, sculptures, metal-ware, traditional Rajasthani costumes, brassware, woodwork, pottery and surprisingly an Egyptian Mummy.