Places to see in Jaipur

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Hawa Mahal

A dear friend went to Jaipur and clicked these pictures for esamskriti. I went to Jaipur in January 2007. Based on our trips prepared this piece.

There are lots of places to see in Jaipur:
1. City Gate.
2. Hawa Mahal.
3. City Palace.
4. Museum.
5. Birla Temple.
6. Rambaugh Palace Hotel.
7. Birla Mandir.
8. Amber, Jaigarh forts.
9. Chhatris of the Maharajas of Jaipur.
10. Main market including the famous LMB restaurant.
11. Galkaji.
12. Kanak Bagh.

Since there is so much to see in Jaipur have split the travelogue into 3 parts, one is the city, two are the forts and three is Jantar Mantar. History of each place covered too.

A. CITY

1. City Gate: Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II founded Jaipur in 1727. It is the capital of Rajasthan state, was the first planned city of its time. He laid out the city with its surrounding walls and rectangular blocks, according to the principles set down in the Shilpa-Shastra, an ancient Indian treatise on architecture. It is also known as the Pink City and pink it is with beautiful places, havelis and forts.

2. Hawa Mahal is Jaipur’s best known monument. Constructed in 1799, the Hawa Mahal or Palace of Winds is a five storey building overlooking the main street of the bustling old city. It is a stunning example of Rajput artistry with its pink, delicately honeycombed sandstone windows and was originally built to enable ladies of the royal household to watch every day life & processions in the city. When I went inside the Hawa Mahal and stood there I found the place very breezy as compared to its surroundings. There is something about the design & architecture of the place which makes it very breezy.

3. City Palace is partially opened to tourists the rest being the private residence of the Maharaja. There are intricate carvings at the entrance with elephants on either side. Top center of the entrance you see a small icon of Lord Ganesh. Lord Ganesh protects his devotees from all obstacles. He is the master of knowledge & achievement. We saw two palace attendants. Wearing a Pagdi or headgear is common in Rajasthan like in other parts of North India. However, residents of different areas tie the padgi in different ways.

The city palace occupies a large area divided into a series of courtyards, gardens and buildings. Jai Singh built the outer wall but other additions are more recent around the 20th century. There are huge water urns on each side. When the Maharaja travelled outside India holy water of the Ganges was taken in these urns. We were told the pot weighed more than 500 kgs.

See the Chandra Mahal, Hall of Public/Private Audiences and the Peacock gate in the Chandra Mahal courtyard.

4. Rambaugh Palace Hotel. Spread over 47 acres it was built in 1835 as a hunting lodge. It got converted into a palace in 1925 when Maharaja Sawai Mansingh II moved in. In 1957 it was converted into a hotel. India’s premier hotel chain, Taj Hotels, have been running it since 1972. A part of the Palace continues to be the residence of the Maharaja of Jaipur/family.

5. Chowki Dhani: A visit to Jaipur is incomplete without going to Chowki Dhani. Its rustic village settings, traditional Rajasthani food & handicrafts made it a very memorable visit for us. It is less than hour’s drive from the town.

6. Birla Temple: The Shri Lakshmi Narayan Temple was built in the mid 1980’s by Hindustan Charity Trust, a Birla Foundation. It was the devotional aspiration of Shri B K Birla & Smt Rukmani D Birla. The temple is situated at the foot of Moti Doongri Fort.

7. Galtaji: It rests on a mountain from where you get an attractive view of the city. It is about a 45 minute drive from the city through thick forests. If you come from the city side then you trek your way up the mountain.

It is an ancient pilgrimage center and has a temple dedicated to the Sun God or Surya Devata and built by Diwan Kriparam. The temple, pavilions and holy kunds with lush green gardens make it an attractive spot. The place is also known as Monkey Valley because of the number of monkeys found there.

We trekked up, took me some 45 minutes two way. At the top of the hill is the Surya mandir. Lovely place must see esp in the winters.

8. Gaitor-Chhatris of Maharaja of Jaipur: About 6 kms from city. There is a Ganesh temple close by i.e. on the top of a hill. Although we did not visit was told it is worth going. The chhatris are made separately for each king and have intricate carvings in marble.

9. Jal Mahal is a small lake on the way to Amber. Beautiful sight but lake was not full then. We could see that work was on to make it an attractive tourist site.

10. Sisodia Rani Ka Bagh is on the way to Galtaji. A super beautiful palace garden built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh in 1728 for his queen.

11. Sanganer is famous for hand block printed textile and hand made paper. It is close to the Airport. If you are interested in shopping do visit the place.

12. Kanak Baug is on the way to Amber. It was made in 1707 and restored with the inspiration of Shri and Smt G D Birla in the year 1988. The garden is quite popular for film shoots. It has a temple as well a replica of which is in the City Palace.

If you want to enjoy Jaipur keep minimum two and a half days. We loved the city.

Keep a day to visit the three forts. Although they might appear to be close to each other by car it takes time to travel. Every fort is huge and covers large area so if you want to walk around the fort it takes time. Take a guide so can explain the fort to you or else you might miss knowing the history behind each monument. To me it appeared that all the forts were part of one long chain of mountains.

B. FORTS

1. Amber Fort: It is about an hour’s drive from Jaipur. The capital of the Kachhwahas for six centuries before the foundation of Jaipur, it stands atop a range of craggy hills. Amber is the ancient capital of Jaipur state. Construction of the fort palace began in 1592 by Maharaja Man Singh. It was later completed by Jai Singh before he moved to Jaipur in the plains below. The fort is built in red sandstone & white marble. It has interesting apartments the likes of which are found only in Jaipur. An imposing stairway leads to the Diwan-I-Am or Hall of Public Audiences. Painted scenes of war adorn the walls of the Fort with precious stones & mirror set into the plaster.

In the center is entrance to main fort. Tourists take an elephant ride from ground level to the fort or they can walk up like we did. All the elephants gather at a point in the fort where it becomes a virtual mela. In front of the fort is the Maota Lake with beautiful reflections of the Amber Fort-Palace. In the center is a multi level garden.

Visit Sheesh Mahal. It is considered to be the world’s best ‘Chamber of Mirrors’. Do see the Diwan-I-Am or Hall of Public Audiences. Note the intricate carvings. Also see Jai Mandir or Hall of Victory is known for its inlaid panels and glittering mirror ceiling.

Sukh Mandir is guarded by sandalwood doors inlaid with ivory. Throughout the massive palace, finely carved lattice-windows, painted doorways and halls and finely sculptured pillars draw attention.

The old township of Amber lies at the foothills of the Amber Fort and has an old world charm, a character of its own. Jagat Shiromani (or Lord Vishnu) temple, Narsingh temple and Panna Meena Ki Baodi are worth visiting.

2. Jaigarh Fort: Above the Amber Fort lies Jaigarh Fort or Fort of Victory. From Jaigarh fort you get a good view of Amber fort since it is on a higher level. Situated in the north of Jaipur, the fort has more or less same structure as of Amber Fort and provides some excellent view of Jaipur city and Amber.

Built in 1726 by Jai Singh it was never captured and so has survived virtually intact through the centuries. The fort, with its water reservoirs, puppet theatre and cannon Jayvan is a must see. Whenever the flag flies high it indicates the Maharaja is in the fort.

The museum inside the fort has an awesome collection of Rajput artifacts and weaponry. The fort is very clean and well maintained.

This signboard tells us about ‘Jayvan’ the world’s largest cannon on wheel. It was produced under the rule of Sawai Jaisingh in 1720 at a local factory and weighs 50 tons. The length of the Nal or cannon is twenty feet. Wheels are nine feet high. You need to fill the cannon once with 100 kgs of barood or explosives.

3. Nahargarh Fort: It stands on the top of a hill, about 600 feet and is visible from nearly every part of Jaipur. It was built in 1734. The walls of the fort run along the ridge and within it are monuments like Hawa Mandir and Madhavendra Bhawan.

It is on the way to Amber from where you can a detour and then goes uphill. Very nice drive with a number of monuments on the way. There is a Rajasthan Tourism restaurant within the fort. They also have a conducted tour that brings you from Jaipur to the Fort at night. Besides dinner you get a breathtaking view of Jaipur city in the night. A trip to Jaipur is incomplete without seeing these three forts.

The piece has inputs from the Rajasthan Tourism brochure.

C. JANTAR MANTAROne of the major tourist attractions in Jaipur is the sundial of Jantar Mantar. It was conceived as a quest for discovering the mysteries of the Cosmos. The Jantar Mantar is a corruption of the Sanskrit word yantra mantra meaning instruments and formulae. It was built not only to verify astronomical observations made at Jaipur, but also to stimulate interest in astronomy. The observatory at Jaipur has the samrat yantra, the jaiprakash yantra, ram yantra and the 'composite instrument' includes a sundial and a massive hemisphere on the northern wall. Courtesy www.travelindianet.com.
Built in 1728 by Maharaja Jai Singh the Jaipur observatory is the largest of the five he built. It was restored in 1901. Others are in Delhi, Kashi, Ujjain and Muttra (no longer exists). What you see is entrance to Jantar Mantar.

The southern side of the equatorial double sundial in the background the top of the little sundial. For more detailed info go to www.bomhard.de/englisch/jaipur/00.html

Solar Hour clock inside view. When the sun’s rays fall on the marble surface it denotes hours like 3 pm, 4pm, and so on. When the sun’s rays fall in between the marble pieces the time is between say 3-4 pm.

“Several devices, first and foremost the hemispheres of Jai Praksh Yantra set in the ground, however, are attributed to Jai Singh as new constructions. Basically it is one marble hemisphere set in the ground about 4 metres in diameter - in itself a masterpiece - where above a cross with a metal ring is applied. The inside surface is covered with coordinate lines. During the day the shadow of the metal ring allows to read the exact position of the sun on the coordinate lines, and of course the time. During the night a simple tube was used as a sighting device for observation. The complementary hemispheres of Jai Praksh Yantra behind some of the 12 zodiac gnomes used for measuring celestial coordinates”. Copyright www.bomhard.de. What you see is the Jai Prakash Yantra.

Unable to decipher this photo. “Unfortunately there is only a few that has been written about this uniquely integrating work of art, science and religion, though it is used to be mentioned in special literature as extraordinary. Maybe there is no real interest in pointing out Jantar Mantar's consequences. After the entire claim to scientific omnipotence of the enlighted modern times is seriously reactivated by Jai Singh's religious-scientific intention. Most of the devices of the Jantar Mantar are limited to the means of a highly developed Stone Age culture. They might as well have stood in Egypt, in South America or in Stonehenge. Anyone who wants to know more about the Jantar Mantar should simply visit Jaipur. At the ticket office the only literature about the Jantar Mantar I know is available, "Astronomical Observatory of Jaipur by Daulat Singh Rajawat" and "Stone Observatories" by Prahlad Singh”. Copyright www.bomhard.de

“Westward from Samyat Yantra there are 12 smaller gnomes about 3 metres high that are pointing at different directions. They are used to determining celestial coordinates. Their ramps are not orientated to the Celestial Pole but to the Ecliptic Pole. The quadrants lie in the plane of the ecliptic. Because the Ecliptic Pole appears to rotate around the Celestial Pole the ramp can only be oriented to the Ecliptic Pole for one fixed date. Each of the 12 gnomes points towards the position of the Ecliptic Pole at the beginning of a zodiac sign. With these 12 points of measurement calculation of position data for every day is possible” Copyright www.bomhard.de

Large sundial closed for public. “Over 30 metres in height, the big sundial is the most impressive and the biggest device. The ramp that forms the indicator is orientated to the north. It's gradient of 27 degrees is equivalent to the latitude of Jaipur. Thus the ramp points exactly to the Celestial North Pole. The shadow of the indicator falls of the wing-shaped western and eastern scales. They are made of marble as the side edges of the indicator are, and covered with delicate measuring divisions. According to the size and architectural precision, the shadow shows the local time accurate within four minutes. Using a sighting stick accuracy lies within seconds”. Copyright www.bomhard.de

To see pictures of
1. Jaipur City
2. Jaipur City 2
3. Amber, Jaigarh Forts
4. Jantar Mantar
5. Block printing Sanganer