Sunday, March 13, 2011

Jaipur (Rajasthan) Part 2 - Jaipur City

Jaipur was founded in 1727 by Sawai Jai Singh and is known as the “pink” city as the outer city walls are all painted pink in imitation of the red sandstone buildings of the Mughal cities of Delhi and Agra.
The city lies in the plain south of Amber and is just 10 kilometres away, the main road going past the artificial lake and the 18th century Jal Mahal (water palace). This palace was not accessible in 2001 or 2004.

There are seven gateways into the city and an inner arrangement of further gateways as you approach the centrepiece which is the City Palace.

The City Palace lies at the heart of the old city of Jaipur and has a fine collection of buildings with courtyards and gardens.
The first courtyard houses the 19th Century Mubarak Mahal that houses a fine collection of textiles, musical instruments and glass ornaments. The textile collection includes many fine royal costumes.

Another 18th Century addition in the form of a large marble gatehouse marks the way into the rest of the palace complex.

The attendants on duty are always happy to pose for photographs but can be a little over zealous in negotiating their fee.

The rest of the palace complex is 18th Century and the next courtyard houses the impressive Diwan I Khas although on both my visits in 2001 and 2004 access was not allowed to the public.

This is an “open” design though and has some rich carvings in amongst the archways. The chamber houses the Gangajali, two giant silver urns (reputedly the largest silver objects in the world) built so that Madho Singh II could take sufficient Ganga water to drink on his visit to Britain in 1901.

The Ridhi Sidhi Pol leads to the final courtyard with public access before the private apartments still occupied by the current Maharaja.

This courtyard is known as the Pitam Niwas Chowk or Peacock Courtyard and is dominated by the Chandra Mahal that is not open to the public, pigeon courtyard would have been more appropriate on my visit!

The courtyard has four gateways each one representing a different season and decorated accordingly.

The most spectacular is the Peacock Gate representing autumn; the Lotus Gate for summer; the Green Gate (decorated with "waves") for spring and the Rose Gate for winter.

The Peacock gate from the courtyard leads into the Chandra Mahal that dominates the courtyard (and indeed the Palace complex) as it runs to seven floors.

The Jantar Mantar astronomical observatory is next to the City Palace and is a real curiosity although it is very similar to the slightly later version also built by Jai Singh in Delhi. The Delhi version although smaller in overall scale has much the same design, so much so that I didn’t revisit on my return to Jaipur in 2004.
Other sights in Jaipur include the magnificent Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds) that overlooks the streets.

Just outside the old city is the rather grand Albert Hall Museum in the Ram Niwas Gardens, built to commemorate the visit in 1876 of the future King Emperor (and then Albert, Prince of Wales). Unfortunately the collections and displays in the museum do not match the grandeur of the building itself.

Jaipur photo collection:

More on Jaipur:
More on the Jantar Mantars of Jai Singh:

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