Jaipur - The Vibrant Pink City
Updated: Oct 16, 2018
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 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 building 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 coloured buildings all around the city.
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 –
Insites from our Jaipur tour –
Jaipur is easily connected from most cities in India. We travelled here on a long weekend holiday clubbed with Ganesh Chaturthi.
Being the royal city that Jaipur is, 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. Anyways after crossing the road blocks because of this 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 and no surprises in the weather. 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 –
This a gigantic fort palace which had been built and renovated over a span of 137 years by 4 generations of the Rajput rules. The premises of this fort is spread over a very large area. The fort is very artistic. Some of the attraction points there 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 one can enjoy Elephant rides, though I enjoyed watching the elephants marching one behind the other while people took the rides.
There were also some local folk artists playing soulful music at the entrance of the fort.
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. Apart from this, 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 visited the Nahargarh fort during the early evening hours. One can get an view of city of Jaipur from this height while watching the sunset. Nahargarh which means the ‘abode of tigers’ was built for defense of the capital city of Jaipur. It is a 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 made in each of these chambers.
On our way to these forts we 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 position of the palace in the water 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 for the rest of the evening.
This place is like the entire Rajasthan in a single premise; a traditional kind of an amusement park along with authentic dinner served. We tried some games there and also enjoyed local folk dance and music performances.
As we were exhausted and it was midnight by the time we returned from Choki Dhani, we started the second day a bit late.
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. So 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 in this place from ages. So anyone visiting it now will only be able to see the remains of the ruins of the fort and its surroundings. Obviously there are many tales to tell and hear!
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 once grandeur is felt everywhere. The fort building must have been a decorated palace. All remains 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. Since it’s a huge palace we took along an audio guide player. This is a very beautiful palace and has lots to explore.
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 generations of the royal family who stays there yet.
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, 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, a lot of time was also wasted for that evening.
Our day 2 ended with a light dinner at the Peacock Restaurant in our hotel premises.
Day 3 (Half day) –
We had to take the late afternoon return flights from Jaipur on this Sunday. 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 along the day.
Albert Hall –
Albert hall is a huge museum complex which stands in th emiddle 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 never ending flights to and fro 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 measure the direction of stars and planets. Its an interesting place for anyone curious of 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 to do any kind of shopping.
Anyways one must definitely also 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 and worth a visit for the calmness it provides and for its beauty.
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 have still 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.
It is not at all a great deal in getting around the entire city even for a newcomer.
Khamma ghani to the vibrant lively Pink city, Jaipur!