Work took me to Jaipur and fate favored me with an entire free day in the ancient city of Jaipur. I kept thinking of ways to spend my time, but never knew that I was in for a surprise. A heady combination of modern with the ancient, software tsars with the royal kings and gleaming malls with resplendent palaces was what Rajasthan’s capital had to offer.
Inside the walls of the old city find yourself staring at the originally planned city of the 18th century and outside the old city you will be experiencing the best and the worst of the 21st century inclusive of chaotic traffic, multi storied and high rising buildings, malls and call centers.
In the true spirit of Jaipur, enjoy the quiet and solitude of ancient Rajput culture and the hustle bustle of modern day Rajasthan.
After a lovely breakfast I set out for the day with the Jal Mahal Palace being the first stop of the day. The romanticism of Jaipur comes alive in the intricate beauty and architecture of Jal Mahal Palace. The palace stands tall amidst the picturesque Mansagar Lake and Nahargarh hills at its backdrop. The palace looks startling in monsoons, with the red sandstone set against the water filled with water hyacinth. Of the five story palace, the first four floors are submerged under water. Built in the 18th century, the palace on the Maan Sagar Lake on Amer road was meant as a pleasure spot.
It is being opened to the public after 300 years after major restorations have brought life back to the lake and the palace.
The next stop of the day was City Palace, a complex of royal residences, which is built in a medley of Mughal and Rajput architectural styles. It has courtyards, temples, gardens and gateways. The City Palace comprises of Mubarak Mahal, Diwan-e-khas, and Diwan-e-aam.
Mubarak Mahal, flaunting a lovely marble and sandstone exterior now serves as the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II museum which showcases the Rajasthani tradition and culture through costumes, weapons, miniature paintings, memorabilia and manuscripts.
A large, pillared hall with rows of marble pillars and arches, Diwan-e-khas was used during ceremonies. Don’t forget to notice the two large silver water containers which find mention in the Guinness Book of World Records for their large size.
Diwan-e-aam is an enclosed area meant for public audiences where court durbars and ceremonies were held. Notice the beautifully painted walls and ceilings, cut glass chandeliers and marble pillars. It also has an assortment of curios and carpets.
The entry fee is Rs 40 (Indian Nationals) and Rs. 200 (Foreign Nationals).
The old city
Designed by a Bengali architect Vidyadhar Chakraborty the city was planned in 1720’s according to a grid system. The city, famously called as ‘The Pink City’ is uniformly colored in pink hues. At sunset, the buildings outshine in the glory of a magical pink and gold glow. The city is divided into nine blocks or chowkries, wide straight streets which are encircled by a formidable wall. The city is flanked by seven major gates Suraj Pol, Chand Pol, Ram Pol, Shiv Pol, Kishan Pol, Ganga Pol and Dhruva Pol. Chand Pol, Ajmer and Sanganeri gates have been beautifully restored.
The palace of winds or Hawa Mahal is the most recognized and distinctive landmark and monument of Jaipur city. It is located inside the fore walls of the old city. Made of pink sandstone, it is a five-story structure in which the entire ornamentation is located on the rear portion of the building. The building looks more like a façade of a real palace. But this façade is an awesome example of Rajput artistry. It was built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh for the royal ladies to watch the city life and processions through the perforated stone screens. The top of Hawa Mahal offers you stunning views over the Jantar Mantar and City Palace on one side and other Siredeori Bazaar in the other. Pay a small entry fee of Rs. 10/- (Indian Nationals) and Rs. 50/- (Foreign National) to view glimpses of the past.
Bazaars in the old city
Jaipur is a shopping heaven. Carry an empty bag with you to take back gems, jewellery, block printed clothes, jootis, blue pottery miniature paintings… I wasn’t able to escape and neither can you! Enjoy the myriad of colors in the old bazaars in the old city. There is an atmosphere of joy and celebration in the bazaars located within the walls of the old city around the two main blocks, Badi chaupar and Choti chaupar.
As you go past Hawa Mahal, you come to the Badi chaupar which leads to some fancy and interesting bazaars such as the Ramganj Bazaar (leather shoe-maker), Tripolia Bazaar (utensils), and Johari Bazaar(Bandhni, block printed textiles and jewelers). I even came across Meenakari artisans and gem cutters at work while strolling towards Gopalji ka Rasta and Haldiyon ka Rasta.
Buy lac bangles from Maniharon ka Rasta, and marble sculptures and paintings from Chand Pol Bazaar in Choti chaupar.
A warm welcome, a grand feast, a colorful celebration of joy and Rajasthan in its full splendor; is what awaits you at Chokhi Dhani. Situated 17 Kms from Jaipur, it is a unique village resort which successfully captures the spirit of Rajasthan and ensures a perfect Rajasthani experience. You will get a flavor of fun games, and ensures a perfect Rajasthani experience. You will get a flavor of fun games, shopping, Rajasthani cuisine, folk dance, music and many more cultural glimpses of Rajasthan.
After a day spent in exploring the city, the perfect end to a perfect day is best spent relaxing at Chokhi Dhani!