Hawa Mahal Jaipur- Rajasthan
The Amer fort situated on a hillside, 11 km from Jaipur
on the Delhi-Jaipur highway, is a classic Rajasthan fort-palace. The
fort overlooks the Maota Lake which provides breathtaking reflections
of the Fort-Palace. Construction of the fort began in 1592 by Maharaja
Man Singh and was completed by Maharaja Jai Singh I. It was once the
headquarters of the Kachawas Rajput dynasty.
Amer is a superb example of Rajput architecture. Fusion of the Rajput and Mughal styles is clearly evident, the rooms are small and intimate, typical of the Mughal style, while the successive courtyards and narrow passages are particularly Rajput. The palace walls are painted with scenes of hunting and battle. Crushed precious stones and mirrors have been used for these paintings, which have retained much of their original colour. Hall of Victory, Ganesh Pole or Elephant gate, and Sheesh Mahal or Palace of mirrors, are some of the popular attractions at the fort. One can reach the fort on foot, or on elephant back.
While at Amer, one can also look at the Jaigarh Fort, the ancient fortress on the crest of the hill above, and the 400 year old Kali Temple.
The sprawling residence of the governess of Maharaja Ram Singh, it became his favourite retreat and later, a hunting lodge. Designed by British architects as a formal palace, Rambagh came to embody princely chic when it was occupied by Maharaja Man Singh and Maharani Gayatri Devi. Built in the Indo-Saracenic style, the sprawling palace embodies good taste, and is one of the countrys premier palace hotels
The Nathawat family of Samode served as prime ministers in Jaipurs court, and their four-century-old fortified residence some 40 km from Jaipur is able to exhibit the good taste learned at the royal palaces in a more restrained space. The Durbar Hall at Samode Palace is one of the most beautifully painted chambers in Rajasthan. Close by is Samode Bagh, the garden pavilion with charming water channels and ancient trees. In Jaipur itself, the family built itself a townhouse, Samode Haveli, which typifies the style of architecture then in prevalence, including accessible public spaces and restricted private spaces, especially for the women of the family. The paintings at the Haveli are every bit as excellent as at the Palace, if a little less profuse. All three properties are hotels.
Sanganer is about 40 Km from Jaipur and is famous world over for textile block printing. Sanganery prints are very much in vogue for dress material or upholstery. Sanganer also specialises in paper-making and the famous blue pottery of Jaipur. The town also houses a couple of temples and an old palace.
The City Palace is in the heart of the Pink City of
Jaipur. It occupies a huge area comprising many pavillions,
courtyards, chambers, gardens and palace. Construction was started by
Maharaja Jai Singh II, while modifications and additions were made by
the later Maharajas. The palace is a blend of Rajasthani and Mughal
architecture. A portion of the palace is still retained by the present
Maharaja and his family while the rest of it is open for the general
public to look at.
As one enters the palace, the first building is the Mubarak Mahal or guest pavilion, built by Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh in the late 19th century as a reception centre for visiting dignitaries. It is now part of the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum where a collection of royal costumes are on display.
The diwan-e-Am (house of public audiences), diwan-e-khas (house of private audiences), maharanis palace, and the chandra mahal (moon palace) are some of the other attractions at the palace. The diwan-e-khas exhibits enormous silver vessels 160 cm tall which are believed to be the largest silver sterling objects in the world. These vessels were filled with the holy Ganga water and carried to London for use by Maharaja Madho Singh II.
The Thakurs of Bissau were a bristling, prickly lot, and were often at daggers drawn with other feudal chiefs. While their fort in the Shekhawati region was sold a few decades ago, the townhouse in Jaipur, called Bissau Palace, now functions as a hotel. Set in a garden, the rambling building has a quaint colonial air about it, somewhat ruined by the souvenir shops. The building inside recreates turn-of-the-century architecture combining English formality with the Rajput need for open courtyards and separate wings.
Gaitor is 15km from Jaipur and is famous for the Cenotaphs or chhatris of Jaipur rulers. It contains the cenotaphs of Maharaja Pratap Singh, Maharaja Madho Singh II and Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II besides others. The Cenotaph of Maharaja Jai Singh II is the most spectacular. It is a white marble structure, with 20 intricately carved pillars.
Hawa Mahal or Palace of winds is one of the most popular landmarks of Jaipur. It was built by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh in 1799. The Mahal is a five storey building made of sand stone. It was designed to allow Rajput women to view the streets and bazaars down below without being seen. Each storey has semi-octagonal overhanging windows that are carved into honey-comb, perforated screens. The building is just one room deep and allows in the cool westerly winds through the windows. The top of the palace affords a beautiful view of the city.
First developed in the mid-18th century and used as a residence for various British officials, Jai Mahal is Jaipurs first palace hotel, though it was considerably smaller before rooms were added to it in the 1980s. The new construction is in amazing harmony with the old structure, and the garden that fronts it is a faithful recreation of Baburs first Mughal garden in Dholpur.
The Jaigarh fort was built by Maharaja Jai Singh in 1726 and was named after him. At a walking distance from the Amber Fort, Jaigarh served as a treasury for the Kachhwahas. It is one of the few military structures of medieval India preserved almost intact. It contains palaces, gardens, open and covered reservoirs, a granary, an armory, a well planned cannon foundry, several temples, a tall tower and a giant mounted cannon.
Jantar Mantar, or instrument of calculation is an observatory, built by the astronomer king, Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh in 1726. The observatory is equipped with futuristic scientific instruments or yantras. Each yantra has a specific purpose to measure the positions of the stars, altitudes, time of the day or even calculating eclipses.
The Nahargarh fort is a picturesque fort, about 8 km from Jaipur. It was built in 1734 by Maharaja Jai Singh II. It is also known as the Tiger Fort, it is floodlit at night and can be seen from the highway. The fort provides a magnificent view of the Man Sagar Lake and the palatial duck blind in the midst of the lake
A garden house set in a mango orchard and built by Thakur Narain Singh of Kanota into a personal residence, Narain Niwas is not particularly impressive as far as its architecture goes, though it has a restful ambience characterised most obviously by the deep verandah where guests now lounge. Its fortified family home, at Kanota, a 40-minute drive from Jaipur, has more definitive architecture, and visitors can call ahead if they wish to visit, or even stay there.
In Jaipur, you are never too far from its rich tapestry of history. Not only is the architecture a delightful medley of the ancient and the medieval, there are also stunning reminders throughout the city. The bustling bazaars of Badi Chaupar, for example, with their tiny shops, and their endless meandering lanes, recreate vignettes of life as it must have been centuries ago. No wonder its so exciting to just walk around, as traders pick up fistfuls of semi-precious stones and offer them to you for a few rupees, or as you watch a silversmith at work on a particularly ornate piece of jewellery.
A small palace, when compared with Rambagh, Rajmahal was established in 1729 for one of the Sisodia princesses so she could distance herself from the intrigues of the Kachchawaha zenana. It later became the Residency, occupied by various British Residents. In that status, it also played host to visiting dignitaries from around the world, whether Queen Elizabeth II or Jacqueline Kennedy, as private guests of the Jaipur royals. It too is now run as a palace hotel
Constructed by the wealthy business family of Birlas, the Birla Temple is a place that respects the values of all religion despite the fact that it is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Goddess Laxmi. It is the pure white beauty of the temple that makes it a tourists spot apart from a religious place.
Another effort on the part of the Rajasthan government to boost tourism in the capital city of Jaipur. The festival also revives the royalty of the erstwhile Maharajas who loved to display their affluence and authority sitting on the back of a well caprisoned elephant. The festival is celebrated a day after the colourful festival of Holi and therfore quiet obviously carries forward its fervour and joy for yet another day.