The Pink City of India

There’s a lot to see in the Pink City – so called because its old districts were painted pink to welcome Prince Albert in 1876 – and most tourist attractions close their gates by early evening, so it’s important to reach the capital as early as you can. The spacious, well-ventilated airport has the soothing atmosphere of a resort, and the soft, Hindustani classical music playing on the speakers is a welcome change from the hoarse yells and frequent announcements of busier airports. Fortunately for tourists, some of the city’s key monuments – the Hawa Mahal, City Palace, Jantar Mantar and Govinddevji Ka Mandir – are located within walking distance of each other.
Map of Jaipur

Jaipur is the largest city and the capital of Rajasthan, is also referred to as Pink City

Historical Places
The imposing facade of Hawa Mahal, made of pink and red sandstone and decorated with quicklime, is used on the cover of most tour guides on Rajasthan. The stunning architecture of the interior unfolds over five levels. The courtyard where the autumn celebrations were held is the Sharad Mandir. Right above is the exquisite Ratan Mandir, with beautiful stained glasswork on its walls. The third storey, where the king used to worship Lord Krishna, is the Vichitra Mandir. As you climb to the fourth storey – Prakash Mandir – your clothes begin to flap about in the wind. With open terraces on both sides, this level offers great views of the city below. The top storey, Hawa Mandir, from which the monument draws its name, is an open roof. You may want to cling on to the walls for support, as the height and breeze can have a rather vertiginous effect. If you want to visit the Govinddevji Mandir, keep an eye on the clock. The shrine opens for about fifteen minutes at select windows through the day. It would be a good idea to make enquiries about the next darshan before scheduling your trips to the other attractions nearby. The temple is several centuries old, and emanates an aura of peace.

Nearby Places
Nearby is the City Palace, part of which is occupied by the royal family. Photography is not permitted in most of its galleries, so unless you’re into aerial vistas, you may want to leave your camera behind. Overpriced souvenirs can be bought at the museum shop as well as the Palace Atelier. The exhibition-sale at the palace is a good place to purchase art and handicrafts directly from their creators. Depending on how much time you have left, you can head to the Albert Hall Museum and Doll Museum next, before starting off on the 11-kilometre journey to Amer Fort (Amber Fort). The main attraction at the museum is an Egyptian Mummy, but it houses a formidable collection of antique porcelain vases, idols, miniature paintings and artefacts. The beautiful sandstone-and-marble building is quaintly draped with nets to keep pigeons out, but you may be startled every now and again by a feathered visitor fluttering across a gallery. The Doll Museum, located near the Police Memorial on Jawaharlal Nehru Marg, boasts a collection of dolls from all over the world.

Fort of Jaipur
Whatever else you miss in Jaipur, don’t leave out Amer Fort. The sprawling, sturdy structure exudes elegance even from the outside, its red sandstone walls bright against the green water of the natural moat formed by Maota Lake, and its white marble domes glowing in the sun. The interior of the fort has exquisitely carved walls, roofs and terraces, separated by manicured garden mazes. Combining Islamic and Rajput architectural styles, the construction of the fort began in 1592. The most beautiful part of the fort is the Sheesh Mahal. It is said a single ray of light could illuminate the entire hall, because of the clever placement of the tiny mirrors within. The precious jewels that once decked the inner walls of the palace have been lost in raids. If you have time to spare, you can accommodate visits to Gaitore – the cremation site of the Maharajas of Jaipur, containing beautiful cenotaphs – and the Kanak Vrindavan temple, whose verdant gardens are especially lush right after the monsoon rains. Both are located just off the Amer-Jaipur road. This road also offers a view of the Jal Mahal lake palace.

Facts and Features of JAIPUR

Language : Rajasthani, Marwari, Hindi

Area: 11117.8 sq.km.

Altitude: 431 m above sea level

Temperature in summers: (March to June) 45 oC (Max), 25 oC (Min)

Temperature in winters: (November-February) 22oC (Max), 5 oC (Min)

Rainfall: 650 mm

Monsoon: July-September

Season: Semi-arid, warm throughout the year.

Religions: Hindu, Islam, Christians, Sikhs, Jains

Best Time to visit: October to March

Main Attractions: Amber Fort, City Palace,Hawa mahal, jantar mantar, Nahargarh fort, Rat temple.

Population: 6,663,971 (Census of India, 2011)

STD Code: 0141