Jaipur: The Pink City of India

by Akhil Kalepu

Aug 27, 2014

Hawa Mahal © Byelikova | Dreamstime

History

Jaipur is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. While Agra is home to the most famous symbol of India, it can be relegated to a long daytrip from New Delhi. Jaipur offers a larger variety of attractions and is more tourist-friendly in terms of transportation and hotels available. If you ever find yourself in the Pink City of India, be sure to make time for these historic sites.

 

Hawa Mahal:

The Palace of Winds was originally built in 1799, combining the Hindu Rajput and Islamic Mughal architectural styles with red and pink sandstone. The exterior features 953 intricate jharokha windows, used by royal ladies to observe the everyday life of Jaipur without being seen. The palace gets its name from the windows’ ability to cool the building with a passing breeze.

 

Jantar Mantar:

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Jantar Mantar is the best preserved of the five observatories built by Sawai Jai Singh II. The site contains fourteen geometric devices used to measure and track celestial bodies. These devices are massive structures carved from stone and big enough to walk on. The Samrat Yantra is the world’s biggest sundial at 27 meters and has an accuracy of about two seconds. If you look closely, you can see the shadow moving at about 1 millimeter a second.

 

Amer Fort:

Jaipur’s most famous attraction overlooks Maota Lake. Made from red sandstone and marble, it is quite imposing from the outside and opulent on the inside. The fort contains four main courtyards, each with their own architectural wonders. Originally built by Man Singh I, the Kacchwaha King of Amber, it was expanded by his descendant Jay Singh I. While many of the older medieval structures have been destroyed or replaced, the extravagant interior has been well preserved.

 

Galtaji:

Nestled between two granite cliffs in the Aravalli Hills, Galtaji served as a retreat for ascetic devotees of the Vaishnavite Ramanandi sect of Hinduism since the 1500s. The natural springs in the area are considered sacred and pilgrims believe it is auspicious to bathe in them. Galtaji is also known as the monkey temple for the thousands of rhesus macaques that have taken up residence on the pools here. Don’t let them frighten you, the monkeys are friendly and enjoy being fed.

 

Chandra Mahal:

Otherwise known as the City Palace, Chandra Mahal was once the seat of the Maharaja of Jaipur. It is the focal point of the planned city of Jaipur, containing a museum but still mostly serving as royal residences. It was commissioned by Sawai Jai Singh II, who was also an architectural enthusiast and helped Vidyadar Bhattacharya and Sir Samuel Swinton Jacob in designing the city and the palace; a fusion of Shilpa Shastra architecture with Rajput, Mughal, and European influences.

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