As the driver announces that we were approaching our first destination, my sleepiness has gone and my enthusiasm has regained my energy. I got excited to uncover Jaipur’s culture and history through its monuments and palaces. It was my first time in India and I think to begin with Jaipur was a great idea for it has given me a good introduction of the country’s past and rich heritage.
It was dawn when we started heading to our first destination on our Golden Triangle Tour. I opted to book a tour operator to facilitate a smooth flow of my self-tailored itinerary, avoiding the inconvenience of using the public transport and the difficulties in asking for directions. Though it was more than 4 hours of rushing and dodging in the expressway dominated with oversized trucks, I guess, I still made the right choice. I felt comfortable and secured knowing we got a private car with an expert driver who is familiar with the route.
I planned to take a nap while on the road but unfortunately it did not happen. Every time I tried to close my eyes, the sudden brakes and the vehicle honks awaken me. This made me decided just to stay awake and enjoy the ride. Besides, that’s what I came for – to observe and see what the place has to offer.
Jaipur is the capital of India’s state of Rajasthan which is popularly called as the “Pink City.” I haven’t questioned why it is called as such when I get there and noticed the city’s pink-hued buildings. It is said that the Maharaja ordered to paint the whole city pink to welcome Prince Albert in 1876. However, it is not only the signature “pink color” of Jaipur that distinguishes it from the rest but also the structural designs of its buildings blending Hindu and Mughal architecture. Jaipur’s monuments have transported me back during the rule of Maharajas and Mughal emperors. The structures tell stories of the past which made me understand its culture and traditions.
There could be several attractions in Jaipur which tourists both local and foreign are very much eager to explore. However if you got short of time, here is the list of the must-see in Jaipur which could give you a perfect presentation of the city’s grandeur.
MUST-SEE ATTRACTIONS IN JAIPUR, INDIA
Jantar Mantar is the largest astronomical observatory in India built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II. It displays a collection of colossal astronomical instruments that perform a specific purpose. These instruments are constructed out of stone and marble which were fixed to the ground in a manner that ensure its accuracy and precision. It is capable of tracking movements and positions of celestial objects, predicting eclipses, and measuring time. The most significant instrument featured in the observatory is the world’s largest sundial called Samrat Yantra, measuring 27 meters high.
Jantar Mantar is an important historical monument in India that testifies the country’s great skills on applying the concepts of astronomy as well as the people’s fascination on astrology. Visiting this UNESCO Heritage site in Jaipur is an enjoyable experience where one could observe how the instruments work with their naked eyes.
CITY PALACE OF JAIPUR
The City Palace of Jaipur is a complex of palaces, courtyards, gardens, and buildings designed in a mixture of Mughal, European, and Rajasthani architectural styles. It is situated at the heart of the city, adjacent to Jantar Mantar observatory. It was constructed by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, the Hindu ruler of the Kingdom of Jaipur, as a royal residence. Today, it remains to be the official home of the royal family; but the other buildings were converted into museums and galleries for public viewing. It displays a collection of Maharajas’ costumes and clothing, carpets, weapons, chariots, portraits and paintings.
AMBER FORT, JAIPUR
Amber Fort or interchangeably called Amer Palace is one of the hill forts in Rajasthan that was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is perched at the top of the rocky Aravalli mountain range, particularly, the hill of the Eagles (Cheel ka Teela). Amber Fort is made of pink and yellow sandstone and white marble, built to house the Rajput Maharajas and their families. Within the fortified walls is a mini-city with courtyards, palaces, temples, and bazaars. Amber Fort overlooks the Maota Lake with its saffron garden that adds charm to the place.
Amber Fort is situated outside the city of Jaipur. It takes around 30 minutes to drive to the fort from the city center. Entry through either the Sun Gate (Suraj Pol) or the Moon Gate (Chand Pol) directs the visitors to the Main Courtyard (Jaleb Chowk). From here, you could start exploring one courtyard after another and be amazed with the buildings’ architecture inspired by Hindu and Mughal style.
WATER PALACE (JAL MAHAL)
This palace that seems to float in the middle of Man Sagar Lake, hence called Water Palace, is a worth a stop when visiting Jaipur. The water palace was said to be used as a venue for duck hunting parties of the royal families during the summer season. It is a five-storey building where the four floors are submerged in water and only the top floor with a beautiful garden is visible. Walking along the stretch of the lake offers a relaxing atmosphere with the view of the “floating” palace, the parading swans, and the hills as the background.
PALACE OF THE WIND (HAWA MAHAL)
The Palace of the Wind is perhaps the most striking building in the heart of Jaipur. Though its architectural design is that of a typical Rajasthani building with the combination of Hindu and Mughal style constructed out of red sandstone, its resemblance with a beehive makes it unique from the rest. It consists of 953 windows which allow the passage of air into the inner compartments, hence called “Palace of the Wind.” The latticed windows do not only allow the smooth circulation of air within the building but also served a special purpose – royal women could observe the daily occurrences in the streets without being seen by the public.