- Saptadeepa Bandopadhyay
Jaipur - The Vibrant Pink City
Updated: Jul 1, 2020
Where should you head when you need some colours in your life? OR
Where should you head when you want to hear the stories of warrior princes and their accomplishment? OR
Above all, where do you want to be when your soul needs some delicious food to relish on?
Jaipur, the capital city of Rajasthan is the answer to all of the above questions! This city will cater to the wishes of every kind of traveler.
So why is Jaipur called the Pink City?
Jaipur is one of the ancient planned cities of India. Most parts of the old city especially around the City Palace are dominated by terracotta coloured buildings.
History dated back to 1876, states that the then ruler of Amer/Jaipur, Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh had ordered to paint all the buildings of Jaipur in Terracota-pink colour as a gesture of hospitality to welcome Prince Albert and Queen Victoria who were visiting India. The Albert Hall, a lavish concert hall which stands in the heart of the city today was also built to honour Prince Albert.
It was Lord Albert, who had mentioned Jaipur as the pink city for the first time on witnessing the terracotta painted town.
Jaipur – the most ancient gated community of India!
Yes, you heard it right. That’s what I felt on the first sight of this city.
The old city of Jaipur is a planned symmetrically structured city. It is divided into 3 X 3 squares and the roads running through the city are all stretched in North-South and East-West directions. And the entire city is built such that it can be accessed by the 7 gates / Darwazas.
Incase you are more interested in knowing about these 7 gates, do check this out –
Insights from our Jaipur tour –
Jaipur is easily connected from most cities in India. We explored the city on a long weekend holiday around Ganesh Chaturthi, an Indian festival to worship the Elephant God.
Being the royal city that Jaipur is, the decorations for Ganesh Chaturthi had made it even more brighter. When we reached Jaipur, the way from the airport to our hotel was crowded with dancing pedestrians carrying idols of Lord Ganesha to a temple. After traversing through the procession, we reached the hotel past midnight, completed the check-in formalities and dosed off soon in our hotel rooms.
Following day, we started with our city tour. Jaipur is mostly a warm city so the day was quiet bright. After an English breakfast of Banana Honey Pancakes and Masala Tea at our Hotel we booked for a rental cab (using the Ola app) to take us around the city.
Day 1 –
Our first day was dedicated to the Forts surrounding Jaipur, the Amer region of Jaipur i.e. atop the Aravalli mountain ranges.
Amer/Amber Fort –
Amer is a gigantic fort palace which had been built and renovated over a span of 137 years by 4 generations of the Rajput rulers. The premises of this fort is spread over a very large area. Amer fort seems like an artistic galore.
Some of the attraction worth exploring inside the fort are -
The Shila Devi Temple which is still being maintained by the palace authorities.
Ganesh Pol (a beautifully carved gaint sized entrance to the private palace space).
Sheesh Mahal which is decorated by mirror pieces sourced from Belgium
Diwan-e-Aam, Diwan-e-Khas, the beautiful square garden.
The two storied Queens’ Palace for the 9 queens of the King.
The Meena bazar area towards the exit (you can still shop here for handicrafts and blankets made in the Amer village).
In the premises of Amer fort tourists were seen enjoying Elephant rides. However practicing being a responsible traveler, I would wish people did not take these rides.
There were also some local folk artists playing soulful music at the entrance of the fort.
Around the Amer fort Premises
Jaigarh Fort –
Jaigarh fort is at a distance of only 400m from the Amer fort and these two forts are said to be connected by underground tunnels.
Some of the main attractions here are -
The huge ‘Jaivana’ cannon,
The palace complex in the fort premises,
The armory and the museum.
One can get a complete view of the Aravalli hills and the Amer fort from this height.
The fort is also known for its huge water reservoir which was sufficient for the entire premises. This fort had been of great importance during the Mughal era, when most of the arms were molded in the armory of this fort. This is the infamous fort of Rajasthan which had been raided by the Indira Gandhi Govt. in search of hidden treasures.
Nahargarh Fort –
We were at the Nahargarh fort by the early evening hours. One can get a panoramic view of city of Jaipur from this height witnessing the golden hour of the sunset. Nahargarh which means the ‘abode of tigers’ was built for defense of the capital city of Jaipur. It is comparatively smaller in area that the other forts. . One can also explore the recently built wax museum here.
The various chambers inside the palace premises seem to be managed privately by various organizations who have also exhibited creative modern artifacts in each of these chambers.
On our way to these forts we also spotted many peacocks taking an afternoon walk.
Jal Mahal –
This was our final destination for the day. It is a palace which stands in middle of the Mann Sagar lake and the location of the palace, submerged in the lake, is what adds to its attraction. Two floors of the Jal Mahal are said to be submerged in the water.
Though the palace is not accessible, we enjoyed taking a stroll along the lakeside in the evening hours. The palace is lit up at night thus creating a beautiful replica in the water.
We later headed to Choki Dhani (a rajasthani theme based restaurant) for the rest of the evening.
This place is a traditional Rajasthani themed amusement park along with authentic dinner served like a village set up. We tried some games there and also enjoyed local folk dance and music performances.
Day 2 –
Because food is equally important on a travel to Rajasthan, we had some delicious heavy Parathas (Indian stuffed bread) for breakfast and started for Bhangarh Fort.
Bhangarh Fort –
This fort is located in the Alwar district of Rajasthan and is around 88 kms from Jaipur. We included this place in our tour because of the extra day we had in hand. (Note - It may take around 2 -3 hours to reach Bhangarh.)
This place is specially known for the legendary tales associated with it. It’s known that the fort and the then surrounding village was cursed and hence no soul resides there since ages. So anyone visiting it now will only be able to see the remains of the ruins of the fort and its surroundings. Obviously, locals have many tales to tell and some even claim it to be haunted!
One needs to walk about more than a km from the entrance. There are many temple complexes in the premises. As one starts walking through the paved pathway, both sides are lined up by single or two-storey roofless buildings or rather ruins. It seems to have been a beautiful township in some age. Some of these are named as the Nachan ki Haveli (dancer’s palace), Purohitji ki Haveli (Priest’s palace), etc. Once in the fort premises, one does not have much to see though the palace’s grandeur is felt everywhere. The fort building must have been a decorated palace. All that remains now, is the basic framework of the fort and its separate rooms, doors, stairs and large slabs of broken marble stone pieces. From top of the building we could get a view of the entire place which looks covered with greenery and like an aerial map of the entire surrounding which must have been a bustling village once. There is also a water reservoir near the fort complex.
We returned back from Bhangarh to Jaipur early evening and decided to cover the city palace as we still had some daylight to explore.
Jaipur City Palace –
We visited the Jaipur City Palace before its closing hours. It’s a huge palace to explore and so we took along an audio guide player.
There is architectural excellence in every corner of this premise. The delicate artistry on every wall or ceiling is spectacular. Most of the palace is still reserved as the royal residence for the royal family who reside there.
Some of the parts of the palace which is open to visitors and worth exploring are –
The Mubarak Mahal (reception center) which currently hosts the museum for the textiles possessed by the royals from different part of the world.
The Chandra Mahal whose ground floor is open for public.
The Pritam Niwas Chowk which is specially famous for its four colourful artistic gates like the Peacock gate, Lotus Gate, Lehariya Gate and Rose gate, depicting various seasons and Indian Gods.
Diwan-I-Aam /Sabha Niwas– The hall of Public Audience
Diwan-I-Khas – The hall of Private Audience. This is a very beautiful complex and has the famously huge sterling silver vessels to hold holy Ganges water for the Maharaja (holds a Guinness world record).
The Maharani Palace (Queen’s Palace) is converted into an armory museum which has all the collections of weapons used or collected by the royal family.
The premises also holds a Baghhi Khana for royal chariots or carrier cages and a Lord Krishna temple.
Having explored the huge palace premises, we were exhausted. We headed to the market area for some quick shopping spree. I picked the famous Jaipuri Mojris (traditional shoes), some colourful lamps near the Hawa Mahal shopping arena and soon headed for some quick snacks.
We feasted at the famous Laxmi Mishtan Bhandar for delicious snacks and a few glasses of Sweet Lassi.
Soon after the LMB feasting, our further plans were blown off because of the Ganesha Chaturthi festivities around the city palace. The road was completely jammed by a long procession by the locals' celebrations. Though we liked watching all the attractive display of lights, colours and dancing figurines and even humans for a good two hours.
Our day 2 ended with a light dinner at the Peacock Restaurant in our hotel premises.
Day 3 (Half day) –
We had a late afternoon return flight from Jaipur on the same day. So we hopped around the city to cover some more places after checking out from our hotel in the morning.
Here are the remaining places we could visit through the day.
Albert Hall –
Albert hall is a huge museum complex which stands in the middle of the city. This was built in honor of Prince Albert when he visited India. Currently it is the oldest state museum of Rajasthan. In the evening this place is lit up and looks gorgeous. We missed this view the previous evening.
While in the museum premises, we also enjoyed a short katputhli (puppet) show by some local artists. We all know these are some of the folk art forms which needs to be encouraged. Afterall its not an easy job to pull the strings of the puppets so that they perform in sync and tell us some folk tales which will otherwise become extinct with the passing generations.
Don’t miss the sight of pigeons flocked outside Albert hall for grains thrown on the street and also their endless flights to the museum. Worth some amusement.
Jantar Mantar –
This place (just next to the City Palace) is a giant astronomical observatory with various measurement structures to explore the direction of stars and planets. Its an interesting place for anyone curious about astronomy/ architecture/ history but seems mostly unknown to the general public.
Detailed information of this place is available here - http://www.jantarmantar.org/
Hawa Mahal –
Hawa Mahal is the extension of the City palace and is at a walk-able distance. It a honeycomb like structure and easily visible from the outside. This terracotta (pink sand) coloured structure with 953 jharokhas (windows) stands tall in a busy market area. The walls exterior to the palace is now lined with shops of all kinds and is also a famous bazar area.
One must definitely take an interior tour of the Hawa Mahal which lets you access all the five floors of the building. As history goes, the women of the palace would gather here to view various celebrations or festivities from these tiny windows.
Birla Temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna and Radha. It’s a beautiful marble temple whose interiors and exteriors are delicately carved. This is a modern structure maintained by the Jain Community and worth a visit.
We ended our tour with a scrumptious meal of Dal Batti Churma with Gathe ki Sabzi from the Heritage Buffet restaurant. I still relish that taste because I have had these Rajasthani cuisines in many places before but never like this one.
Its never enough of the time to explore this beautiful lively city. We missed a bunch of location and would have always loved to explore some more bazaars. This is one of the famous Indian cities which has a large population of foreign tourists and backpackers.
Khamma ghani to the vibrant lively Pink city, Jaipur!