Jaipur is the capital of India’s Rajasthan state. It evokes the royal family that once ruled the region and that, in 1727, founded what is now called the Old City, or “Pink City” for its trademark building color. At the center of its stately street grid (notable in India) stands the opulent, colonnaded City Palace complex. With gardens, courtyards and museums, part of it is still a royal residence.
Jaipur, the largest city of Rajasthan is an epitome of magnificence and vibrancy. This city was established in 1727 by Jai Singh II, and is India's first planned city. Jaipur was the capital of former Kachwaha rulers and it so presents itself as a versatile tourist destination. This royal place is rich in heritage, culture and architecture. With splendid fortresses, majestic palaces, tranquil temples and beautiful havelis; Jaipur turns out to be an ideal tourist destination. It is not just the royal buildings and palaces that this city offers. Other than these captivating attractions, Jaipur displays exquisite handicrafts and spectacular jewellery. These intricate works of art add life and colour to this Pink City's uniqueness. Also, the serenity of lush gardens and floral array acts as the cherry on the cake of fabulous landscapes. All this make a picturesque view that tends to enthral any visitor.
Amber, located about 11 kilometres from Jaipur, sits amidst picturesque and rugged hills. It incorporates both Rajput and Mughal architecture. Constructed by Raja Man Singh I in the late 16th century and completed by Mirja Raja Jai Singh, the fort is made of red sandstone and white marble.
Jaipur City Palace
The City Palace is a splendid example of the foresight that Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II had. As the founder of Jaipur, he took pains to create a magnificent walled city that encloses marvels such as the City Palace. The palace is a beautiful blend of Mughal and Rajput styles of architecture. The previous royal family continues to reside in one section of the palace. Located within the walls of the City Palace, Chandra Mahal is a seven-storeyed tower. However, the ground and first floors have now been given over for the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum.
The Jantar Mantar in Jaipur is considered to be the largest of the five astronomical observatories built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, the founder of Jaipur. It contains fourteen geometric devices, designed to measure time, track celestial bodies and observe the orbits of the planets around the sun.
The Palace of Winds was constructed in 1799 by the poet-king Sawai Pratap Singh. The five-storied structure is made of pink sandstone and has 356 intricately carved jharokhas (windows). It was designed for the women of the royal family to sit in privacy while observing life on the street.
Albert Hall Museum
The building gets its name from The Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the inspiration for its design. The exquisitely built Albert Hall is housed in the centre of Ram Niwas Garden. Sir Swinton Jacob (who is also the mastermind behind many other palaces in Rajasthan) conceptualised and designed it using styles from the Indo-Sarcenic architecture and the Prince of Wales laid the foundation stone of the building in 1876. The museum displays a wide range of metal objects, wood crafts, carpets, stone and metal sculptures, arms and weapons, natural stones and ivory goods. It also houses a large collection of miniatures from Bundi, Kota, Kishangarh, Udaipur and Jaipur schools of art.
The northern frontier of Jaipur is fortified by Nahargarh Fort. Situated on a rough crest of the Aravalli range, the fort, which literally means ‘abode of the tigers’, was built in 1734 by Jai Singh to further defend Amber. Later, in 1868, the fort was extended to its present size.
Of the three hilltop forts that overlook the city of Jaipur, Jaigarh is perhaps the most magnificent of them all. About 15 kilometres from Jaipur, it was built by Sawai Jai Singh II sometime in the early 18th century amidst the arid, rocky and thorn-scrub covered hills. Despite its ancient construction, it still retains most of its imposing citadel appearance. Visitors can see the world’s largest canon – Jaiban, at the fort.
Lakshmi Narayan Temple
The Lakshmi-Narayan Temple, also known as the Birla Temple, is a comparatively newer temple built by the Birlas (a noted industrialist family). The temple, constructed entirely of white marble, is home to the deities of Vishnu and his consort Lakshmi.
One of the most wonderful sights in Jaipur is the beautiful Jal Mahal or Lake Palace. The light, sand coloured stone walls and the deep blue of the water make for a wonderful contrast. The palace appears to float in the centre of Man Sagar Lake, where its magnificent exteriors can be enjoyed by tourists.
Central Park is a large green zone right in the centre of Jaipur that offers city dwellers a spot for a moment of respite. Conceptualised and built by the Jaipur Development Authority, it is Jaipur’s largest park. It houses a lush garden, the Polo Ground and a golf club. However, the highlight of the park is India’s first all-day-and-all-night monumental National Flag which also happens to be the country’s tallest flagpole.
Govind Devji Temple
The Krishna temple is a rare spire-less temple and houses the idol of Govind Devji that Sawai Jai Singh brought from Vrindavan. The deity, worshipped by the erstwhile royal family, is also revered by the Hindus in Jaipur and nearby areas.
Rising from the middle of Jaipur is a small pearl-shaped hill called Moti Doongri. At the top of the hill sits an exotic palace – a replica of a Scottish castle – which is the private property of the royal family. The highlight of Moti Doongri is a famous and auspicious temple of Lord Ganesh located at the foothill.
Galtaji is an ancient pilgrimage centre in Jaipur. Set amidst low hills and packed with locals and tourists alike, the attractive spot has temples, pavilions and holy kunds (natural springs and water tanks). Visitors to Galtaji will come across the complex of Ramgopalji temple, locally called the Monkey temple (Galwar Bagh). It gets this moniker because of a large group of resident monkeys. The green landscape and chattering monkeys add to the delight of the area. On top of the hill is a small temple dedicated to the sun god, called the Surya Mandir. Constructed by Diwan Kriparam, the temple can be seen from anywhere in the city.