A city known for its vibrant colours, narrow streets bustling with life and to top it all, the city’s historic monuments that boast of its glorious past, chivalry and valour of Rajput kings – welcome to the historic city of ‘Jaipur’. Also known as the ‘Pink City’ owing to its structures built in pink sandstone, the charisma of this cultural city of India continues to lure travellers, history buffs and researchers from different corners of the world. With its array of monuments soaked in the glory of opulence and grandeur of the Rajput rulers, Jaipur offers a spectacular journey in its rich past. Let us uncover some of its best places and attractions on this memorable journey.
Get a glimpse of the royal lifestyle at the ‘City Palace’
The ‘City Palace’ is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Jaipur, located in the heart of the city. Dating back to the 19th century, the palace was built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh. Showcasing a unique combination of Rajput, Mughal and European styles of architecture with an array of courtyards, gardens and special structures built inside the palace complex, the City Palace gives you a deep insight into the excellent architectural skills of the designers and engineers of the bygone era. Many parts of the palace complex except the ‘Chandra Mahal’, have today been transformed into art galleries and museums displaying the antique collection of armours, costumes, carriages and memorabilia belonging to the erstwhile Maharajas and Maharanis; the ‘Chandra Mahal’ inside the palace complex still serves as the home to the royal family of Jaipur. One of the major attractions inside the palace complex are the 4 gateways or ‘pols’ each designed in a unique way symbolizing the four seasons. The beauty of these gates with intricate carvings and floral designs is a visual treat to eyes. A visit to this palace is a must during the Jaipur trip to catch a glimpse at the royal lifestyle of the past kings and queens of this historic city.
Get awed with the exceptional architecture of ‘Hawa Mahal’
One of the most prominent landmarks of the pink city, ‘Hawa Mahal’ is located very near to the ‘City Palace’. Rajput customs used to be very stringent for the royal ladies in the past. Ladies were bound by a strict ‘Purdah System’ and were not allowed to go in public and interact with strangers. In order to enable ladies of the royal family observe the day to day life and carnivals celebrated in the streets of the city, without being seen by the common man, Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh, in the year 1799 gave the orders to construct this special monument. Constructed with red and pink sandstone and symbolizing the shape of Lord Krishna’s crown, ‘Hawa Mahal’ is an architectural masterpiece with over 900 intricately carved ‘Jharokhas’ or small windows. These Jharokhas are designed in such a way that they allow proper ventilation of the air in the palace, keeping it cool and airy even during peak summers. Brilliant design of this palace makes it one of the ‘Must-Visit’ tourist attractions in Jaipur. When visiting this monument, make sure to go up to the topmost floor that offers panoramic views of the Jaipur city with ‘City Palace’ at one end and ‘Siredeori Bazaar’ at the other end.
Talk to the stars in the sky at ‘Jantar Mantar Observatory’
‘Jantar Mantar’ in Jaipur, is another most famous tourist attraction of the city. Hundreds of historians, astronomers and curious travellers visit this place to get a picture of the astronomical skills of an Indian king during an era when these scientific concepts were very new to the Indian society. Holding the status of UNESCO World Heritage site, the monument was built in 1738 by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh, who is believed to have a keen interest in astronomy. The monument houses a unique and impressive collection of astronomical instruments made of stone and brass based on the astronomical design principles of Hindu texts of astrology and modern science; some of the instruments are largest ever built in their particular categories. Through these instruments, which are fixed on the ground, you can observe various astronomical positions with naked eye. The ‘Samrat Yantra’ in the observatory is the world’s largest sundial and needs a special mention. Boasting of the brilliant architectural, astronomical and cosmological concepts of Sawai Jai Singh, the observatory is indeed an astronomical heritage of the city.
Get a glimpse of ever evolving Rajasthani art and culture in the ‘Albert Hall Museum’
Acclaimed to be the oldest museum of Rajasthan, the ‘Albert Hall Museum’ is located inside the ‘Ram Niwas Garden’ and was opened to public in the year 1887. Foundation stone of the museum was laid in 1876 by the then Prince of Wales, Albert Edward, after whom the museum is named. Beautifully carved arches and domes of the museum constructed with pink sandstone can be noticed from even a far-off distance. A rare collection of ancient artefacts including paintings, weapons, metal and wood craft items, musical instruments, carpets, and costumes and jewellery belonging to different tribes of Rajasthan, can be seen in the museum. What interests more to visitors are the sections exhibiting Rajasthan’s unique henna artwork and puppet collection. The museum is a ‘must-visit’ place in Jaipur for explorers, historians and researchers studying art and culture of Rajasthan.
Spend few hours observing animals and birds at the ‘Jaipur Zoo’
Located at a walking distance from the ‘Albert Hall Museum’ in Jaipur, the ‘Jaipur Zoo’ also known as the ‘Zoological Garden’, is a famous tourist attraction, especially amongst kids. Spread across a sprawling area of 33 acres, the Zoo was established under the rule of Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II in 1877. Home to various species of mammals, birds and reptiles; you can spot tigers, panthers, cheetals, hyenas, spotted deer and a variety of colourful birds including white peacock, parrots, babbling lorry and other migratory birds. The crocodile breeding ground in the Zoo is one of the best in the country and is a huge crowd puller. Another interesting attraction of the Zoological Garden is its museum exhibiting the unique wildlife of Rajasthan. All in all, a great place to spend half a day amidst tranquil environs and natural greenery. Kids, nature lovers and bird watchers will definitely have a memorable time observing the animals and birds here.
Get captivated with the stunning vistas of ‘Jal Mahal’
Also known as the ‘Water Palace’, ‘Jal Mahal’ is situated right in the heart of the ‘Man Sagar Lake’, flanked by the majestic Nahargarh Hills. Unique location and charming beauty of the palace makes it one of the best photographic sites in Jaipur. Originally, believed to be built by Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh some 300 years back, as a lodge for his duck hunting parties, the palace was renovated by his son later on to beautify its exteriors with courtyards and gardens built in typical Mughal style. Tourists can book boat rides to visit the palace; only the terrace garden is allowed to be accessed by the visitors. Stunning views of the hills adorned with forts and temples from the terrace of the palace leaves you mesmerized for some time. If you have keen interest in bird watching, the palace gives you ample opportunities to spot flamingos and various other species of migratory birds. In the evenings, when the palace gets illuminated with thousands of flood lights reflecting on the waters of the lake, the sight really captivates your hearts and souls.
Get fascinated with the artistic brilliance of the ‘Amer Fort’
Located in Amer town, at a distance of 11 km. from Jaipur, the ‘Amer Fort’ is one of the most impressive forts of Rajasthan and is visited by an umpteen number of tourists every year. Overlooking the beautiful Maota Lake, the fort is a masterpiece of the Rajputana architecture. Built by Raja Man Singh I in 16thcentury, the fort is a brilliant specimen boasting of a unique blend of Hindu and Rajput elements. Be it the ornamented pillars and delicate mosaic work of the ‘Diwaan-e-Khaas’, splendid ivory and sandalwood work of the ‘Sukh Niwas’, elegant frescoes and fascinating latticed work of the ‘Ganesh Pol’ or a spell binding work of glass in the ‘Sheesh Mahal’ – Amer Fort is incomparable as far as the artistic skills of the artisans and designers of the Rajput era are concerned. Besides the artistic brilliance, the fort also offers you breath-taking views of the surrounding hills and cities. Many famous Bollywood movies such as ‘Mughal-e-Azam’, ‘Jodha Akbar’ and ‘Veer’ have been shot at this enchanting fort. A tourist guide is a must to get an in-depth knowledge of the fort’s minutest details. A visit to the ‘Amer Fort’ is incomplete without an elephant ride that is a unique experience in itself. Make sure to reach the fort early in the morning as the rides are available only in mornings to protect these creatures from harsh sun during the noon time.