Think Rajasthan and what comes to mind are stark desert settings, exquisite palaces belonging to the erstwhile Maharajas, riot of colors in the ghagra cholis and gay turbans wore by the locals. Hailed as the Pink City, Jaipur in India is steeped in the rich history of the royalty of Rajasthan. Magnificent architecture, a blend of Rajasthani and Mughal forms, can be seen in the numerous monuments, palaces and structures. This modern city still clings to its early royal heritage, be it in its palaces, festivals and cultural revelry. The pink sandstone that lends the city its name is still evident in most parts of the city.
Some of the fine palaces of Jaipur have been converted into heritage luxury hotels. Set over vast areas, these hotels in Jaipur transport you back to another time and era. Jai mahal palace is one of the majestic forts in Jaipur that have been converted into a hotel.
Tourists seeking a luxurious ambience can enjoy the charming ambience of this hotel that boasts of recreational facilities and modern amenities. The Rambagh Palace in Jaipur is yet another hotel that was the former residence of the Maharaja of Jaipur. The beautifully landscaped gardens of the Raj Vilas hotel in Jaipur are a treat to the eyes.
While in Rajasthan, partake of the local delicacies too. Try the Dal-Bhatti-churma combination. This is a meal in itself - the dal and stuffed flour baked rotis being the main meal and the jaggery and ghee concoction (churma) completing the fare. Bhattis come in various forms, from wheat or millet flour ones to those stuffed with masalas and dry fruits.
Some dishes are characteristic of Rajasthani cuisine such as gatte ki subji and ker sangri. Ghevar is a sweet dish that is made on festive days.
Shopping in Jaipur
Jaipur is noted for enameled jewelry. Kundan work and meenakari work are special skills of local craftsmen and jewelers. You can pick up exquisite pieces of jewelry in semi-precious stones. The typical lac bangles worn by women of Rajasthan are also an interesting buy. Browse around for colorful Rajasthani handlooms and handicrafts.
Tie and dye fabrics and block-printed textiles are noted here. Tourists can pick up sandalwood carvings and stone engravings. Marble portraits and busts that are made here find place in different parts of the world. Brass work from Jaipur is noted for its quality and intricate patterns.
Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan and is a popular tourist destination. Jaipur is well connected by air, road and rail. You can get to Jaipur from any of the major cities of India.
Moti Dungri: This exotic palace is named Pearl Hill as it sits on a small hill in the middle of the city. Built on the lines of a Scottish castle, Moti Dungri has been a royal abode. Other attractions here include the Ganesh Temple at the foot of the hill and the beautiful Birla Mandir
Hawa Mahal: This edifice is perhaps one of Jaipur's most famous ones. Located in the midst of a busy street, you will find the Hawa Mahal built with delicate pink sandstone that the city is so famous for. The 'Palace of Winds' as the Hawa Mahal indicates, is replete with plenty of windows or jharokas. It was considered the viewing gallery for the ladies of the royal household.
Jaigarh fort: This fort is located about 15 kms from Jaipur on Chilh ka Tola (Hill of Eagles), 400 feet above the Amber Fort. Visitors can get a marvelous view of the Aravalli range. Do not miss the medieval canon foundry and underground water storage tanks. The climb up is very steep. This moated fort has an armoury and museum that are worth seeing.
Amber Fort: This architectural beauty dates back to the 16th century and is perhaps one of Jaipur's finest examples of craftsmanship.
City Palace: The main palace of Jaipur occupies pride of place in the city and boasts of certain unique features. There are separate structures such as the Mubarak Mahal to greet visiting personage and Diwan E Khaas to entertain special guests. Its courtyards, chambers, pavilions and gardens occupy large areas. Tourists can take a glimpse of the world's largest collection of sterling silver objects, exquisite armory and swords and royal costumes and Pashmina shawls. Do not miss the Peacock Gate in the Chandra Mahal courtyard.
Just across the road you will find the Jantar Mantar - one of India's oldest observatories built in stone. Do catch a glimpse of the famous Brihat Samrat Yantra Sundial. Every instrument and its location is with a purpose. Each yantra measures the positions of the stars, altitudes, time of the day or calculating eclipses.
Albert Hall is sandstone and marble structure is home to several pieces of art, including ivory and metal sculptures, paintings and carpets. Located within the precincts of the Ram Niwas Garden, the Albert Hall has on display collections of jewelry, pottery and natural stones. Different toys from all over the world can be seen here.
Festivals in Jaipur
The Gangaur Festival is an important local festival celebrated in Jaipur around March-April. Women worship Goddess Gauri for the husbands' longevity. This festival, spanning nearly 18 days is marked by colorful processions of richly bedecked horses and elephants. Women are decked in traditional finery and exquisite jewelry. Clay or wooden idols of Gan and Gauri are found aplenty.
The month of August brings with it the festival of Teej, fresh with the hint of rain-drenched fields. Yet again it is said to be symbolic for women who pray for marital bliss. The idol of Teej is still ceremoniously adorned and taken in procession throughout the city. Jaipur is also famous for the Elephant Festival. Elephants are painted in gay motifs and adorned with trinkets. They even play a game of polo.