Jaipur, the vibrant capital of Rajasthan, is popularly known as the ‘Pink City’ because of the pink sandstone used in the buildings of the old walled city. Jaipur owes its name and foundation to the great warrior-astronomer Maharaja Jaisingh II. The Hawa Mahal or palace of the winds is the city’s central landmark. It sits on a dry lake bed in a somewhat arid landscape, surrounded by barren hills surmounted by forts and crenelated walls. This buzzing metropolis is certainly a place of wild contrasts and a feast for the eyes. Jaipur has massive forts, magnificent palaces, exquisite temples and marvellous gardens. All through, Jaipur has retained its strong Rajputana flavour tempered by several influences – the mughal being the most prominent. The region’s strong cultural heritage is distinctly evident even today. The city is a visitor’s delight. From the intricate, delicate looking Hawa Mahal to the graphic forms of the Jantar Mantar – an open air observatory of outsized astronomical instruments, the Badi Chaupar lined with shops and business establishments on both sides to the majestic fort-palace at Amber; from the colorful fountains of life to the sublime Birla Temple; from the architectural delight of the City Palace to the serene Jal Mahal. The principal shopping centre in the old city is Johari Bazaar, The jewellers’ market. Unlike most other shopping centres in narrow alleys in India and elsewhere in Asia, this one is broad and open. There are three main interconnecting roads in the new part of town – Mirza Ismail Road (MI Road), Station Road and Sansar Chandra Marg.
Amer Fort is situated high on the rugged hills outside of town sits ancient forts, including Amer (often called the Amber Fort), where the Jaipur royal house held court for seven centuries. Visitors ridding painted elephants can ascend to the fort to see magnificent gateways, courtyards, pavilions, and a glittering chamber of inlaid mirrors.
Hawa Mahal is Jaipur’s most famous landmark is the Palace of the Winds or Hawa Mahal, a fantasia of 1953 ornate of windows set in a rose-colored five storey facade. The palace, tier upon tier of curved arch surmounting fairy casements with “jali”, lattice work screens. From here the ladies of the court could look out at festive processions without jeopardizing their modest seclusion.
City Palace: A pride of peacocks adorn an ornate doorway in Jaipur’s City Palace. Palace retainers stand at attention as in the past when Jaipur Court was headquartered here. The palace is now a fine museum. It houses a remarkable collection of textiles, paintings, manuscripts, and extraordinary weapons. On display there are two huge urns of silver, said to be the largest silver vessels in the world. Nakkarkhana-ka-Darwaza, the imposing gateway of the City Palace guarded by stone elephants, is monumental.
Jantar Mantar: The architectural astronomical instruments of 18th century Rajasthani king named Jai Singh contained in an amazing, three-storey-high complex known as Jantar Mantar.
Jaigarh Fort: The western skyline is dominated by the extensive walls, watch towers and gateways of Jaigarh built by Jai Singh in 1726. It is one of the few military structures of medieval India preserved almost intact, containing palaces , gardens, open and covered reservoirs, a granary, an armoury, a canon foundry and several temples. It is the royal treasury for several years. The world’s largest cannon on wheels is to be found here. The fort has its own museum and provide an excellent view of Amer Palace.
Nahargarh Fort: Built in 1734, the Nahargarh Fort lies north-west of City Palace and provides some stunning views of the city down below both during daytime and night.
Jal Mahal is a picturesque palace amidst the Man Sagar Lake. It is Jaipur’s lake palace surrounded with water. It is built for royal duck shooting parties.
Birla Mandir: The magnificent temple embodying the rich architectural and sculpltural heritage of Rajasthan, is situated in the idyllic surroundings at the base of the Moti Doongri hills. Constructed in white marble the temple complex houses an air conditioned museum, library and a meditation hall.
By Air: Indian airlines operates flights between Delhi and Jaipur daily, and most flights continue to Mumbai, Udaipur or Aurangabad. There are several weekly flights between Jaipur and Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Calcutta and Jaisalmer. Private airlines sometimes put on extra flights during the tourist season.
By Bus: Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation (RSRTC) buses all leave from the main bus station.Some services are deluxe.These buses should be booked in advance. There are deluxe buses to many destinations including Delhi, Jodhpur, Kota, Ajmer, Udaipur, Bikaner, Bharatpur, Bundi, Mt Abu, Jaisalmer, Chittaurgarh and Jhunjhunu.
By Train: Jaipur is well connected by train to main cities of India. Indian Railway reservation office opens from Monday to Saturday. There are several trains from Jaipur to Agra, Bombay, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Kota, Chittaurgarh, Alwar, Ajmer and Delhi. There is a Shatabdi Exp. between Jaipur and Delhi and continue to Alwar and Ajmer.