Jaipur

Named after Maharajah Sawai Jai Singh II, the largest city in the desert state of Rajasthan is popularly known as the Pink City. This is due to the fact that almost all buildings, old and new are pink in colour. These are made in the locally available red sand stone. In modern times, however, most of the buildings are painted pink. Legend has it that when the Prince of Wales and Queen Victoria visited India around the late 18th Century, the Maharajah ordered the city to be painted pink in their honour. The colour Pink, in Rajput culture signifies hospitality. The tradition remained uninterrupted and now it is mandatory by law for residents to paint their houses pink. Jaipur, like most of the Rajasthan cities is dotted with forts and palaces. What distinguishes Jaipur from the rest of the states is the fact that this city has been the home to the fiercely independent indignant Rajput warriors, who braved the annihilating incursion of the Mughals and Marathas. Their valour in battle is closely equated with their artistry in architecture. The imposing forts and magnanimous palaces bear testimony to that. Sightseeing in Jaipur encompasses, the Amer Fort, The Jaigad Fort, the City Palace, Hawa Mahal and Jantar Mantar. Travel to Jaipur is incomplete without shopping for colour fabric and some handmade artifacts.

Jaipur lies in close proximity to Delhi and Agra. If time is a constraint, a day tour to Jaipur is also possible.

City Palace:
A sprawling complex containing The Chandra Mahal and the Mubarak Mahal, the city palace was constructed as per Vaastushastra, an ancient Hindu ideology. A major part of the Chandra Mahal has now been converted into a museum. It has a large collection of art and artifacts, along with common items of use of the erstwhile Maharaja.

Amer Fort:
Standing tall on the outskirts of Jaipur is the lofty Amer fort. Nestled amongst the Aravallis, this fort has a cobbled way at its entrance. Overlooking the Maota Lake, the Amer fort also provides a beautiful overview of Jaipur. Inside the fort, there are various palaces, chambers and temples. The most striking feature however is the Sheesh Mahal, or palace of mirrors. It is built with a thousand mirrors and some more. Some parts of it have colored glass pieces as well. It is believed, that since the queen and other royal women were forbidden from sleeping under the sky, the king ordered the architect to construct a room, where the queen would get the feeling of sleeping under the sky.

Hawa Mahal:
Contrary to the name, this is not a palace, but a beautifully designed screen. The Rajput royal women practiced purdah (not revealing their faces). This giant wall consisting of 953 windows enabled them to peek into the bustling street life. The structure of this finely latticed wall resembles the crown of Lord Krishna, a legendary Hindu God. The other purpose of Hawa Mahal is to create a cooling effect. It is believed that once the fierce hot winds of summer filter through the latticed screen, it becomes cooler, thereby cooling the inner parts of the ladies quarters.

There are a few other Jaipur attractions as well. Adjacent to the Amer Fort, there is the Jaigarh fort. A few kms away is the beautiful Nahargarh fort. These are considered amongst the popular forts in Jaipur. The Jantar Mantar is home to the largest sundial in the world and is now regarded as a UNESCO world heritage sight. The nearby town of Sanganer is the Mecca for block printing.