Jaipur (pink city)
is the capital city of Rajasthan, founded in 1727 by Raja Jai Singh II, & replaced the hill fort of Amber, 11 kilometres away. The city was planned on a grid system by Jai Singh, who was also a highly skilled astronomer and mathematician. He also designed the observatories here and in Delhi, which are extraordinarily accurate. The city is known as the Pink City, primarily due to the pink paint which decorated the walls for a visit in 1876 by the Prince of Wales, who later became Edward VII. Pink is traditionally the colour of hospitality. The wide boulevards were planned to allow for air circulation in the stifling heat of summer, and to improve public hygiene. Commerce remains the principal interest of Jaipur, which is in keeping with their situation, straddling several important trade routes across the plains to Delhi and from the coast in Gujarat.
First stop was to photograph the Hawa Mahal, or Palace of the Winds – a five storey structure built in 1799 for the women of the royal entourage to observe the pageants passing along the streets below. The 5 storey building is only one room deep.
On the way to Amber (pronounced Amer) we stopped at a step well. NOONE knows where the water comes from.
The Amber Fortress was built in the 16th century & has 100s of chambers, dungeons, servants’ quarters, halls & enclosed gardens. A labyrinth of passages connects the various sections of the palaces, along raised passageways and a room with glittering concave mirrors. When the kingdom outgrew Amber, the maharajah in 1727 started work on a new city – Jaipur.
UNESCO World Heritage Site of Jantar Mantar, or observatory, which was built under the instruction of the astronomer King Sawai Jai Singh in 1728. The sun dials are accurate to within two seconds and are corrected for the local time in Jaipur, which is some minutes different from Delhi. In addition, there are a dozen structures that fix the position of the Sun in each of the astrological signs. Astrology has always played an important part in Hindu life, and is still used today before any business, political or marriage.
We visited the city palace and museum, dating from the early 18th century and belonging to the ruling Jaipur family. The palace houses a textile museum, armoury and art gallery, with some pictures of the royal family.
We then went on a walking tour around the colourful bazaars which included sampling street food & popping into several havelis.