Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Jaipur

Jaipur Hawamahal
Jaipur, the largest city of Rajasthan is an epitome of magnificence and vibrancy. This city was established in 1727 by Jai Singh II, and is India's first planned city. Jaipur was the capital of former Kachwaha rulers and it so presents itself as a versatile tourist destination. This royal place is rich in heritage, culture and architecture. With splendid fortresses, majestic palaces, tranquil temples and beautiful havelis; Jaipur turns out to be an ideal tourist destination. It is not just the royal buildings and palaces that this city offers. Other than these captivating attractions, Jaipur displays exquisite handicrafts and spectacular jewellery. These intricate works of art add life and colour to this Pink City's uniqueness. Also, the serenity of lush gardens and floral array acts as the cherry on the cake of fabulous landscapes. All this make a picturesque view that tends to enthral any visitor.
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The best time to visit this place is between October and March. Since the weather is pleasant during these months, that allows one to explore more of this place without getting scorched in the seething heat. This city of Rajputs is well known for its fairs and fests that are held on a grand level. The festivals include kite festival, camel festival, teej, gangaur, elephant festival, to name a few. The city witnesses maximum tourists during these days. To add on to its liveliness, this place has brilliant bazaars filled with bright turbans and ethnic attire, hand-dyed and embroidered textiles, pretty jewellery and delicious food. All these things can draw anyone towards them. Dressed in pink, this royal city of Rajasthan, Jaipur is the apt blend of heritage, palaces, culture and art and the flamboyance of this place can be experienced only by visiting it.

History of jaipur:
Forts, palaces, architectural marvels and tales of valour, all in their own way, bear testimony to the glory that Jaipur is and was just after it was conceived by Sawai Jai Singh in 1727. Located 262 kilometers from Delhi, jaipur was the first planned city in northern India. Jaipur's history dates back to the 12th century when the Kachchwaha clan o Rajputs arrived at the old fort palace of Amber in the Aravalli Hills. The Kachchwaha belonged to the Kshatriya, or the warrior caste of Hindus, but they traced their origins back to the sun, via Kusa who the twin son of the god Rama.

The people the Kachchwahas ousted were the Susawat Minas, who became the hereditary loyal guards of what became one of the largest and most valuable treasuries in India. From this base, the Kachchwaha Rajputs, with their brilliant soldiering, and a knack for lucrative alliances (even if that meant swallowingg Rajput pride), amassed a fortune. It was the special relationship the Amber rulers developed with the Mughals that brought them real power, influence and wealth.

 Arriving from Jaipur through the narrow pass in the hills, you are presented with a view of the honey coloured Amber fort-palace that conforms to every expectation of how a romantic Rajupt forts should appear. It rambles over a rugged hill, reflected in Maota Lake below. The odd elephant plods up the ramparts road. In Amber village, which clusters around the hill, gem-cutters smoothen and cut stones, the faithful go to mosques and temples, and children run around the royal chhatris (mausoleums) and decaying houses. A circle of protective hills surrounds all this, and snaking up these hills are crenulated walls punctuated by look-our posts. On the highest ridge and overlooking the valley is Jaigarh Fort, a spectacular display of defence. Inside Amber Fort, the contrast is sharp, the grand painted gateway, the hall o public audience that made even the Mughal emperor jealous, pools and cascades to cool the air in summer heat, and the hall o mirrors inlaid with tiny pieces of glass so that a single flame creates a room o a thousand bejeweled stars.

 The power to create such a strong fort enclosing such beauty was built up over several generations. Raja Bihar Mal made the first move. Recognizing Mughal power, he paid homage to the emperor Humayun and led a 5,000-strong army for him. Then he made sure he was the first Rajput presented at Akbar's court. His big chance came when Akbar made his first annual pilgrimage to Ajemr, the burial place of a Muslim saint, which lay in Kachchwaha territory. On a visit to Akbar's tent, Bihar Mal gave his daughter to be the emperor's wife and his adopted grandson, Man Sing, into royal service. The daughter finally gave Akbar his first son, who became emperor Jahangir. The next ruler, Bhawan Das, cemented the alliance and gave a daughter to be Jahangir's wife. Then came the two rulers who built Amber. Man Singh, a leading general under both Akbar and Jahanir, and Jai Sing I, a military and diplomatic genius who brought the house of Amber to its apogee at the Muhal court, On the throne aged 11, Jai Singh I was soon commanding a Mughal force for Jahangir, then fought all over the Mughal empire for Shah Jahan and finally backed the right side in the war for succession and became emperor Aurangezeb's most prized Rajput commander. All this time, the Kachchwaha coffers were filling with prizes, rewards and booty. Three rulers later, Jai Singh II, another child prodigy, came to the throne. The young lad quickly impressed the 71-year-old Aurangzeb who awarded him the title 'Sawai', meaning one-and-a-quarter. Even today, the flag flying above the City Palace in Jaipur has an extra, quarter sized one  next to it. Jai Singh II, having proved his soldiering ability further enriched his coffers and fulfilled his other passions - the arts and sciences. The impressive giant stone instruments which he devised for the open-air observatories at Jaipur, Delhi, Ujjain and Varanasi stand testimony to his scientific prowess. After ascending the throne, he shifted the capital from Amer. He studied the architecture of several European cities and drew up plans for constructing a larger and well-planned city. He consulted his best mathematicians, astronomers and the Silpa Sastra Sastra, a traditional Hindu architectural treatise before making the the blueprint for the new city.

After building close bonds with the Mughas and sure that there could be no danger to his throne, Sawai Jai Singh, envisioned his dream project, the building of Jaipur. the foundation stone was laid by him in 1727 and an eminent architect, Vidyadhar Bhattacharaya, was asked to desing the 'Pink City. ' It was a two-in-one compliment as 'Jai' means victory and was also the ruler's first name. That it was later chosen as the capital of Rajasthan formed from the amalgamation of various kingdoms, was a tribute to both Jai Singh and Bhattaccharya.

 The city was planned in a grid system of seven blocks of buildings with wide straight avenues lined with trees, with the place set on the north side.Surrounding it are high walls pieced with ten gates. The site of the shops were chosen after careful planning and they are arranged in nine rectangular city sectors (chokris). Jaipur was the first sizable city in north India to be built from scratch, though the famous pink colour symbolizing welcome', came later when Ram Singh II received the Prince of Wales in 1876. The colour was chosen after several experiments to cut down the intense glare from the reflection of the blazing rays of the sun. To this day, the buildings are uniformly rose pink. After Jai Singh died in 1773, a battle for succession followed and the Marathas and jats who were making advances in various parts of the country also decided to try their luck and Jaipur lost large chunks of territory with the ruler playing second fiddle the the fast growing East India Company. In 1818, several maharajas of the north-west princely states and Maharaja Jagat Singh of Jaipur, signed a treaty with the British under which they could continue to have control of their states, but would be collectively supervised by the British under a new name, Rajputana. After Independence, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner and other Rajpur states merged to form the state of Rajasthan with Jaipur as the capital. And even after 273 years after it was founded, jaipur has retained its unique flavour and old world charm. It is a bustling trading centre with colorfully set bazars, people sporting blood-red turbans, puppet sellers, and festivals and fairs.


Tourist Attraction of Jaipur :

1. City Palace:
Jaipur City Palace
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.
Location: Chokri Shahad, Old City, Jaipur.
Entry Cost: 300 rupees for foreigners (includes camera fee and entry to Jaigarh Fort). 75 rupees for Indians, plus 75 rupees for a still camera.
Opening Hours: 9.30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.


2. "Hawa Mahal" Palace of the Winds:
Jaipur Hawa Mahal
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. Wind used to flow through the openings, giving the palace its name. However, the wind has now gone from the Wind Palace. 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 streets below without being observed. A panoramic view can be had from the top of the building. Take a peek behind the facade of the Hawa Mahal.

Location: Next to the City Palace. Enter from the rear of the building.
Entry Cost: 50 rupees for foreigners. 10 rupees for Indians.
Opening Hours: 9 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. daily.

3. Galta Monkey Temple
Galta Monkey Temple Jaipur
Getting to this rather ruinous but holy Hindi temple, nestled in peaceful surroundings between two granite cliffs, is quite an adventure but it's completely worth the effort. The temple is part of a larger temple complex, which also has three sacred pools of water. One of the pools has been taken over by thousands of monkeys that congregate there to swim and bathe. They're generally friendly and love to be fed.
Location: At the far eastern side of the city, outside Gulta Pol, near Agra Road, Jaipur. To get there, take a rickshaw, walk up the hill to the white Sun Temple, then follow the steps downhill into the gorge.
Entry Cost: Free
Opening Hours: Visit late afternoon, near sunset, when the monkeys flock to the temple.

4. Amber Fort and Palace
Amber Fort and Palace
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.
Location: North of Jaipur. Frequent buses depart from the Palace of the Winds to Amber Fort. Taxis are also available.
Entry Cost: 50 rupees for foreigners. Elephant rides are 550 rupees ($13).
Opening Hours: 9 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. daily.
Sound & Light Show: Takes place every evening.


5. Nahargarh Fort
Nahagarh fort jaipur
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.
Location: North west of Jaipur city center. Get there by local bus, taxi, or a steep half hour trek directly up the hill.
Entry Cost: Foreigners 30 rupees.
Opening Hours: Sunrise to sunset, daily. Palace open from 10 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. daily.


6. Jaigarh Fort
Jaigarh Fort Jaipur
Jaigarh Fort
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 has 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.
Location: North of Jaipur, within walking distance of Amber Fort.
Entry Cost: 50 rupees ($1).
Opening Hours: 9 am to 4.30 p.m. daily.

7. Markets and Shopping
Shopping in Jaipur
Jaipur is an excellent place to shop and you'll find an enticing variety of goods available there. Some of the most popular items are precious gemstones, silver jewelry, bangles, clothes, blue pottery, and textiles. Don't miss these top 5 places to go shopping in Jaipur.




Location: The main shopping area is M I Road.
Opening Hours: Many shops are closed on Sundays.


8. Jantar Mantar Observatory
jantar mantar jaipur-india
Jantar Mantar Observatory
Jantar Mantar, built by King Jai Singh II between 1727 and 1734, literally means "calculation instrument". More than just a curious collection of sculptures, each structure at the intriguing Jantar Mantar observatory has a specialized astronomical function. There are 14 structures in total, which measure time, predict eclipses, and track stars. The most impressive one is the huge Samrat Yantra sundial. At a height of 90 feet (27 meters), it has a shadow that moves roughly the width of a person's hand every minute. It's a profound display of how quickly time does in fact go!
Location: Next to the City Palace, Jaipur.
Entry Cost: 10 rupees (20 cents) plus 50 rupees ($1) for a camera.
Opening Hours: 9 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. daily.


9. Government Central (Albert Hall) Museum
Jaipur Albert Hall Museum
Albert Hall Museum
This old and famous museum was modeled on the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Its collection includes portraits of local kings, costumes, woodcarvings, paintings, and arts and crafts. Unfortunately photography isn't allowed.
Location: Ram Nivas Bagh, south of the Old City, Jaipur.
Entry Cost: 30 rupees (60 cents) for foreigners.
Opening Hours: 10 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. daily.


10. Dera Amer Elephant Safari
Dera Amer Elephant Safari Jaipur
Dera Amer Elephant Safari
Jaipur is well known for its elephant rides, and this elephant safari is a thrilling way to explore the countryside around the city. Situated on a private estate in the green foothills behind Amber Fort, it enables visitors to get right away from the hustle and bustle. The safari ventures though villages, agricultural fields, hills, and ancient monuments. Many people take a safari before or after visiting Amber Fort, but night safaris are popular as well. If you wish, it's even possible to stay at the camp.
Location: 20 minutes from Amber Fort, Jaipur.
Cost: Around $130 per person for a morning safari, buffet lunch, beer and soft drinks. Inquire with the company for exact pricing.
Opening Hours: Safaris run from morning to night.


Jaipur Culture:
Located in the eastern Rajasthan, this city of Jaipur is popular of the amazing forts and stupendous palaces. This royal town has magnificent architecture and is the first planned city of India. The buildings here are made with pink-painted sandstone which brings it the name of Pink City. With fantastic attractions all around the city, it invites tourists from all over the world. Jaipur's rich cultural heritage is displayed in the traditions, customs, lifestyle, art and architecture of this place. In fact the best understanding of Jaipur's culture can be attained through its art, music and architecture. The splendid monuments of Jaipur deserve a visit. Those huge fortresses of Mughal and Rajput reigns, the Hawa Mahal, Amber Fort, Jal Mahal aptly describe the culture of the city. Jantar Mantar of Jaipur, the largest of all five similar monuments is an observatory basically, which is indeed an architectural spectacle.

The people of this lively town are friendly and warm. Their colourful outfits and unique jewellery are the part of their culture displayed in a flamboyant way. They love to dance to the tunes of Rajasthani folk songs. Famous dances of Jaipur include Ghoomar, Chari where the dancers got to dance on a pot with a lit diya on their head. Traditional instruments like Sarangi, Ektara, and Jhalar are also played while singing folk songs. Food or the local delicacies of Jaipur also reveal the culture of the city. Jaipur's utterly delicious mangodi, papad, khichdi, buttermilk, sohan halwa have no match. Also famous for its handicrafts, Jaipur has markets flooded with handicraft items. Carved silver jewellery, kundan as well as meenakari jewellery, ivory carved sculptures, wood work and leather goods, are all so finely made that they would undoubtedly catch your eye. Known for blue pottery, miniature paintings and traditional clothes with work of bandhni, zari and zardosi, are certainly the best examples that depict rich culture of Jaipur.

Art And Crafts:
The Mughal and Rajput rulers used to invite skilled artists and craftsmen from India and abroad to display and share their abilities with the people of Jaipur. Many of them settled here leading to development of Jaipur as the haven of rich art and culture. Some of the artful talents of artisans include: Bandhani; Block printing; Stone carving and Sculpture; Tarkashi; Zari, Gota, Kinari and Zardozi; Silver Jewellery; Gems, Kundan, Meenakari and Jewellery; Miniature paintings; Blue Pottery; Ivory carving; Shellac work; Leather ware, etc.

Performing Arts:
This land of Jaipur has its own performing arts. The Jaipur Gharana for Kathak is widely popular and apparently an example of rich cultural heritage of Jaipur as far as performing arts is concerned. Tamasha is another such example.

Cuisine:
The pink city Jaipur presents to you scrumptious cuisines that are known throughout India; dishes like Dal Bati Churma, Missi Roti, and sweets like Ghevar, Feeni, Gajak, Chauguni ke laddu, Moong Thal, to name a few. Rajasthani cuisine is full of nutrition since it's made in ghee and butter; and is generally vegetarian.

Fairs And Festivals:
This city witnesses various fairs and festivals at different time of the year. Some of the festivals are Gangaur festival, Jaipur Literature festival, Kite festival, Teej festival, Shitla Mata Fair, Chaksu Fair, Elephant Fair, Chhat ka Mela in Amber during Navratri. The colourful city becomes even more lively and lovely.

People and Languages:
The people of Jaipur are friendly and warm. The colourful outfits and ethnic jewellery they sport are the part of our culture exhibited in a beautiful way. They love to perform folk dances to the tunes of Rajasthani folk songs. The main language of Jaipur is Rajasthani. However, Marwari, Hindi and English are also spoken in the city.


How To Reach :
People from all parts of the world come to observe the beauty and to know about cultural legacy of Jaipur. Being the major city of the country, Jaipur is well connected to almost every corner of India via different means of public transport including air, rail and road. Every day the public transport is used by over millions of travellers travelling to and around Jaipur with various purposes and destinations. Jaipur International Airport is located about 7-10 km from the main city and can easily be reached with ease by taxi or bus. The Indian Railways on the other hand provides the best service to the passengers and as for the bus service, the roads and the highways are very well constructed and smooth with less chances of getting any dump in between the way. Read to know more about how to reach Jaipur.

By Air:
The Jaipur Airport is situated at Sanganer, 7 km (domestic terminal) and 10 km (international terminal) from the main city. It connects the city to all the major parts of India as well as some of the major overseas countries. It has the facility of daily domestic flights to Delhi, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Aurangabad, Hyderabad, Goa, Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Bangalore, Indore and Pune. Also, it has the facility of international flights through which it connects directly to Sharjah, Muscat and Dubai. Flights to Singapore and Bangkok are also available via Delhi. Furthermore, it offers the chartered service to London and Dublin. Once you get down at the airport, hire a taxi or take a bus to reach the main city.

By Train:
Jaipur is well connected to almost every part of India through the means of Indian Railways. There are several trains which connect this city to Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Agra, Kota, Alwar, Jodhpur, Alwar, Ajmer, Kota, Chittorgarh, Bikaner, Udaipur, Barmer, Jammu, Bikaner, Jaisalmer, Kolkata, Ludhiana, Pathankot, Haridwar, Indore, Gwalior, Bhopal, Jabalpur, Roorkee, and Kanpur. In addition to this, long-distance trains arrives from several other cities including Patna, Ranchi, Lucknow, Allahabad, Vadodara, Banaras, Surat, Bilaspur, Nagpur, Raipur, Puri, Bhubaneswar, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mysore, Mangalore, Goa, Kochi, and Kozhikode. There are three main railway junctions including Jaipur, the main station; Gandhinagar and Durgapara. Every train stops at Jaipur junction and a few of the trains stop at Gandhinagar and Durgapara. After getting down at the railway station, take an auto-rickshaw, bus or hire a taxi to reach the destination within the city. There is a special, luxurious and renowned train called as Palace on Wheels which departs from Delhi and connects all the well known destinations of Rajasthan including Jaipur, Jhalawar, Jodhpur, Alwar, Udaipur, etc.

By Road:
Jaipur, the pink city is linked with the all the major cities of India through the network of National Highways 8, 11 and 12 to name a few. There's also a very good bus service between Jaipur and Delhi provided by Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation (RSRTC) with the buses at about every half an hour to and from both sides. There are non-AC and AC Volvo buses in which the fare of the AC bus is more. From Jaipur you can board the bus from Narayan Singh Circle or the main Sindhi Camp bus stand whereas in Delhi you can take the bus from Bikaner House on Pandara Road which is next to India Gate. Also, there are some private buses which are available from Dhaula Kuan in Delhi. There are some express buses which connect various cities and towns of Rajasthan such as Bundi, Kota, etc. to Jaipur. This city is also connected to Mumbai via Ajmer, Ahmedabad, Udaipur and Vadodara and is also well linked to Agra via bus. 


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