Jaipur - Amer

Jaipur, popularly known as the Pink City, was founded in 1727 AD by one of the greatest rulers of the Kachhawaha clan, the astronomer-king Sawai Jai Singh, and designed by the brilliant architect Vidyadhar Bhattacharya.

Sawai Jai Singh came to the throne of Amer in 1699, at the tender age of 11 years and showed signs of his brilliance even at that early age. He faced many difficulties but overcame each, and thus proved a strong and an able ruler who could establish peace and stability. By 1725, he decided to build a bigger city and move his capital there. This was Jaipur.

Palace Jaipur

This remarkable city was considered a marvel of town planning and drew the peace-loving merchants and craftsmen to its wide streets and mohallas, which were earmarked for them. Traditional crafts like jewellery, metalwork, enamelling, tie and dye, stone carving, pottery, leather work and miniature painting patronised by the rulers in the 18th century still continue to thrive to this day. It is a city with a timeless quality to it, a city where the ancient and the modern coexit in complete harmony. While the broad roads have had to accommodate the increasing number of vehicles, there is also a place for the camel and bullock carts as also the ever increasing tribe of cyclists. The pedestrian appears to fight for his place on the road and is perhaps one of the strongest links with the past. The colourfully attired women in their ghagra - odhani and men in spotless dhotis and equally colourful tubans. this is how all the men and women of the early 18th and 19th centuries must have looked.

Designed in accordance with ancient Hindu treatise on architecture, the Shilpa Shastra, Jaipur follows a grid system and is encircled by a fortified wall. The palace lies in the heart of the city and occupies the space of the central grid. The rest of the grids were cut across neatly by wide lanes which divided the area into tidy, well laid–out rectangles of commercial and residential use. The fortified wall has seven gates and was built for protection – from invading armies (of which there were none, thankfully) and of wild animals who lurked just outside in the thick jungles which surrounded the city. Today, the city has spreads beyond these walls and reached neighbourning towns and continues to grow.

But Jai Singh’s planned city has withstood all the pressures and the changes. The pink colour which was used at time of making to create an impression of red sandstone buildings of Mughal cities – and repainted in 1876, during the visit of the Prince of Wales, is still maintained scrupulously. The city is best explored on foot and the adventurous visitor willing to go into the inner lanes can discover a whole new world not visible to the tourist-in-a hurry.

Places of interest are located mainly in the walled city. THE CITY PALACE complex is the most important outbuildings, courtyards, impressive gateways and temples. Occupying one-seventh of the walled city area, the palace houses the seven-storeyed Chandra Mahal, Mubarak Mahal, the Diwani-Am and Diwan-i-Khas. The museum houses a rare collection of arms, carpets, costumes, paintings and royal paraphernialia. A notable exhibit is a pair of pure silver containers which are the largest single pieces of silver in the world.

Popularly known as the City Palace, it is the home of the erstwhile royal family. Across the road from the palace is the JANTAR MANTAR, one of the five observatories (the others being in Delhi, Ujjain, Varanasi and Mathura). Built by Sawai Jai Singh, this one is the largest and the best preserved. A collection of complex astronomical instruments chiselled out of stone – most of which continue to provide fairly accurate information to this day – is the highlight of the observatory.

Hawa Mahal (Palce of Winds) adjoins the outside of the palace wall. Built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh, the Palace of Winds is a remarkable structure which overlooks one of the main streets and also provides some excellent views of the city. In the not-too-distant past, ladies of the court found it convenient to watch the activities on the streets below without being observed themselves.

samode-palace

Dedicated to Lord Krishna, it is shaped like a mukut, or crown, which adorns the Lord’s head. It has over 900 niches and is quite an unusual structure the likes of which are no be found anywhere else. Within the palace complex are several temples, the most prominent being the Govind Devji temple, dedicated to Lord Krishna. Close by are the newly restored Talkatora and Jai Niwas garden. Outside the palace walls are the famous mohallas, rectangular blocks, each designed in conformity with a particular trade or craft. Key areas include the Chandpole Bazar, Chooti Chaupar, Badi Chaupar, Tripolia Bazar, Kishanple; Bazar, Johari Bazar, Bapu Bazar, Neharu Bazar and their lanes viz. Khazanewalon-ka-Rasta; Maniharon-ka-Rasta, Haldiyon-ka-Rasta, Gopalji-ka-Rasta and Rangwalon-ki-Gali. Each of these lanes is like an open museum, a treasure house of traditional crafts and arts. Markets outside the walled city include the;M.I. Road, Jayanti Market plus a number of colony markets.

OUTSIDE THE WALLED CITY

Located just outside the walled city is the sprawling Ram Niwas Garden. The majestic Albet Hall Museum occupies pride of place situated as it is in the middle of the garden. Opened in 1887 AD, it is very well-maintained and impressive building displaying a rich collection of paintings, carpets, ivory, stone and metal sculpture and other objects.

Ram Niwas Bagh also houses one of the oldest zoos in the country harbouring different apecies of birtds and animals. Also of interest are the Ravindra Rang Manch with a morden atr gallery and an open air theatre. Another corner of the garden is dotted with street food stalls where one can savour the Indian fast foods.

NEARBY EXCURSION POINTS

Maharani ki Chattri : The traditional site where the last rites of royal ladies were performed. It has a number of cenotaphs, some of which are still in very good condition.

Gaitor : Located in the foothills of the Nahargarh hills, this is the funeral ground of the rulers of Jaipur.  A quiet and peaceful area, there are some fine cenotaphs with intricately carved marble columns and lattices.

Jal Mahla : A picturesque palace amidst the Man Sagar lake. It was built for royal duck shooting parties.

Kanak Vrindavan : A newly restored temple. The landscaped gardens have made this a popular picnic spot.

Galta : A pilgrimage centre with several pavilions, natural springs and the only sun temple in this part of India .

Sisodia Palace and Garden and Vidyadhar Garden On the way to Galta, these gardens are well laid out and maintained. These house several galleries, pavilions scenes from the life of Lord Krishna which are a visual delight. An ideal location for watching peacocks and monkeys.

THE GARLAND FORTS

Jaigarh and nahargarh : These forts, though built at different periods, are so located that they seem to be stringed together.

Nahargarh : or the Tiger fort, is the first of the three forts. Built mainly in 1734, it lies north-west of City Palace and provides some stunning views of the city down below both during daytime and at night. A royal retreat for the Maharanis, it was also used as a personal treasury for many years. Durg, a cafeteria managed by the RTDC, is located in one of the many courtyards of this fort.

Jaigarh :or the Fort of Victory, is a rugged fort built in 1726 by Sawai Jai Singh. It was the royal treasury for several years. The world’s largest cannon on wheels is to be found here. Also of interest is the intricate water supply and storage system which is considered a marvel of planning. The fort has its own museum and provides some excellent views of Ajmer palace.

Amer

There is a lot more to Amer than as splendid fort. The history of Amer is also the history of kachhawaha dynasty. Won from the ruling Meena tribe, the Kachhawahas set up their capital here in mid – 12th century and continued to dominate the surrounding area for the next six centuries. The alliance between the rulers of Amer and the Mughals was mutually beneficial and the Kachhawahas were able to build and embellish the fort-palace with their share of the booty from the battlefield.

Set in a picturesque location, Amer is a fascinating blend of Hindu and Muslim architecture. Built in the 16th century by Raja Man Singh, it sprawls on the hillside. Buit in red sandstone and white marble, the palace complex has some very interesting apartments, the likes of which are not to be found anywhere else in the country. Jai Mandir, Sheesh Mahal, Sukh Niwas, Ganesh Pol are some of the prominent areas of interest.

The old township of Amer lies at the foothills of the palace and has an old world charm, a character of its own. JAGAT SHIROMANI Temple. NARSINGH temple PANNA MEENA KI BAODI are some of the place an old Samod, Ramgarh, agru, Sanganer, and Chasku.