The Royal Forts and Palaces of Jaipur
The desert capital of India, Jaipur, affectionately referred to as the Pink City because of the pink walls and buildings of the old city, lures visitors with its stunning remnants of a bygone era. The most popular Jaipur attractions are the ancient palaces and forts, with elaborate architecture that serves as a resplendent reminder of their royal heritage. There are numerous places that attracts not only foreigners but Indians from different parts of the country. The magnificent Palaces, forts, Temples, monuments are the best examples of the ancient Indian architecture. All these heritage buildings are so well maintained that it doesn’t look old at all. The city was planned according to Indian Vastu Shastra (Vedic Planning for the comfort and prosperity of the citizens). The directions of each street and market are east to West and North to South. Travel to Jaipur to get a feel for how the monarchy once lived in all its glory.
The intricate and fascinating facade of the Palace of the Winds is probably Jaipur’s most recognized building. Constructed in 1799, it has five floors that contain rows of small windows and screens. Legend has it that the palace, which overlooks the main street of Jaipur’s lively Old City, was built so that the women of the royal household could watch the street scene below without being observed. The stark maze of pillars and passages inside is nowhere as impressive as the palace’s exterior, but a panoramic view of the city can be had from the top of the building.
Around half an hour’s drive from the city center, like something out of a fairy tale, Amber Fort is set on a hill top overlooking the Maota Lake. It was the original home of Rajput royalty until Jaipur city was constructed, and contains a number of breathtaking palaces, halls, gardens, and temples. Inside, the elaborate mirror work adds to the grandeur. The fort entrance is reached by walking up the hill, going in a jeep, or taking a lurching elephant ride.
The massive Jaigarh Fort was built in 1726 and holds great appeal for military lovers. Flanked by towering gateways and watchtowers, it contains the world’s largest cannon on wheels. The cannon have never been fired though, and neither has the fort been captured. As a result the fort has remained intact over its long life, and is very well preserved. Infact, it’s one of the best-preserved military structures of medieval India. Jaigarh doesn’t have the delicate interiors of Amber Fort, and therefore appears as a real fortress. Climb the Diwa Burj watchtower to get an excellent view over the plains.
Nahargarh Fort, also known as Tiger Fort, is perched high on the rugged Aravali Hills overlooking Jaipur city. The fort was built 1734 to help defend the city. It found fame in 2006, after many scenes from the movie Rang De Basanti were filmed there. Nahargarh Fort offers spectacular views, which are best seen at sunset. It also makes a great place for a picnic as there’s a cafe on the premises, which serves beer and snacks until 10 p.m. The fort looks particularly attractive at night when it’s lit up.
Upon visiting the magnificant City Palace, it’s easy to see that the royal family of Jaipur was one of the richest in India. The huge complex of courtyards, gardens, and buildings blend both Rajasthani and Mughal architecture. The Peacock Gate is exquisite, and contains an alluring display of detailed workmanship featuring bright peacocks. Today, the royal family lives in the graceful Chandra Mahal (Moon Palace) bordering the courtyard. Also inside the City Palace complex is a museum, art gallery, and interesting displays of royal costumes and old Indian weapons.
A seven-storied citadel, Chandra Mahal houses the superb scenery of the sprawling city and verdant gardens. This palace exhibits, lovely floral decorations, marvelous paintings, mirrored walls and highly decorated ceilings. Each floor displays the royal elegance, has got a distinct name and is a place of sheer beauty and luxury. The ground and first floor of the Chandra Mahal form the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum while the third floor holds the dining and the drawing room. The fourth floor exhibits mirror walls where the king can enjoy the glittering if light in the dark. The fifth floor is the Maharaja’s retreat in the rainy season, and in the sixth floor one can enjoy the wonderful view of the jagged hills. The seventh floor of Chandra Mahal is called as the crown of the building. The Shobha Nivas and the Sukh Nivas is still occupied by the present Maharaja.
Diwan-e-Aam / Diwan-e-Khas
Diwan-e-Khas (hall of private audience) is housed between the art gallery (once the diwan-e-aam-hall of public audience) and the armoury. The most attractive feature is the two sterling silver vessels (in the marble-paved gallery) in which Maharaja Madho Singh II, a devout Hindu, took holy Ganga water during a visit to Europe. The two vessels are massive standing 160 cm and have a capacity of 9000 litres each. They are listed in the Guinness book of Records as the biggest silver vessels in the world. From the ceiling of the hall hang a number of chandeliers which are covered with plastic to prevent dust and bird droppings falling on them.
Jal Mahal of Jaipur is a pleasure palace built in the 18th century. Situated amidst the picturesque Mansagar Lake, the palace has the Nahargarh hills forming its backdrop. Jaipur Jal Mahal Palace is an architectural beauty and was meant to be used for the royal duck shooting parties. Developed as an enjoyment spot, it is entered through a causeway situated in the middle of Mansagar Lake. Jal Mahal of Jaipur, Rajasthan is a five-story palace, with the first four floors being submerged under water. The Nahargarh Fort situated nearby offers a splendid view of the lake as well as the palace. You can also get magnificent views of the Jal Mahal place of Jaipur from Mansagar Dam on the eastern side of the lake. The Mansagar Lake is also a bird watcher’s paradise as it serves as the home of a variety of local as well as migratory birds. Opposite the palace are the cenotaphs of the royal family.