This trip came in almost immediately after our Haridwar–Rishikesh trip. It so happened that the day after returning to Gurgaon happened to be Election Day. So all offices were shut down. So we made use of the opportunity to go to Jaipur.
We set off early in the morning , around 5.30am. The drive was uneventful, and we mostly slept in snatches through the entire journey. Unlike most road trips, the road-sides were not dotted with fields, but were mostly dry and arid. So it make for some un-awe-inspiring views…
By 9am we reached the outer limits of the city of Jaipur. The first place we passed by was the Amber Palace. We however didnt stop here. The driver suggested that this being at the very outskirts of the city, it should be our last stop.
Our first stop was the Maharaja Sawai Mansingh Museum, The City Palace. We entered through the Virendra Pol (gate) which leads directly to the reception area.
The first building we saw saw here was the Mubarak Mahal. Here the clothes of all the Maharaja’s past were put up. It was really beautiful. The embroidery and zardozi work on the garmets made them a visual treat.
One thing must be said here: no effort has been spared on the architecture and stone lattice work in the palace. Everywhere you look, there is something so beautiful to look at that you stop to gaze on it at least for a few moments..
We then stepped into the Diwan-i-Khas, the private audience hall of the Maharajas. The entrance is flanked with 2 huge silver urns. They were made by Maharaj Sawai Madho Singh II to hold the water from The Ganga during his trip to meet the Queen in England.
Next stop was the Pitam Niwas Chowk. This is an open courtyard with 4 doorways, each one designed to represent a season: Peacock Gate representing Autumn, Lotus Gate showing Summer, Green Gate (also called Leheriya or waves) to show Spring, and the Rose Gate showing winter. From here we can see the private residences of the Jaipur Royal family.
Next was the Baggi Khana, which was a collection of carriages, palenquins and European cabs modified as baggis.
The final stop was the Maharani’s palace, now the Sileh Khana or Armoury. Name the kind of hand-held weapon you want to see, and chances are high that you’ll find it here. Elaborate and beautiful, its a definite must-see.
Right next door to the Palace is the Jantar Mantar. The name literally translates to “Calculation Instruments”.
The observatory consists of fourteen major geometric devices for measuring time, predicting eclipses, tracking stars’ location as the earth orbits around the sun, ascertaining the declinations of planets, and determining the celestial altitudes and related ephemerides. Each is a fixed and ‘focused’ tool. Built from local stone and marble, each instrument carries an astronomical scale, generally marked on the marble inner lining. Bronze tablets, all extraordinarily accurate, were also employed. Thoroughly restored in 1901, the Jantar Mantar was declared a national monument in 1948. An excursion through Jai Singh’s Jantar is a unique experience of walking through solid geometry and encountering a collective astronomical system designed to probe the heavens.
The next stop was the Hawa Mahal. It is located on the main thoroughfare of Jaipur.All the shops on the raods around the Hawa Mahal are all in pink colour, and this is where Jaipur gets its moniker “Pink City”
The original intention of the lattice was to allow royal ladies to observe everyday life in the street below without being seen, since they had to observe strict “purdah” (face cover). The exterior of the palace is covered with interice lattice work in honeycomb fashion, and also the reason the palace is very pleasant, as the lattice work allows a light breeze blow through the palace keeping it cool.
We wanted to shop in the markets on the main road. A gentleman stopped us on the road, and suggested we go to a shop which was run by the Maharani’s trust, and that it would have great stuff. He even called us a rickshaw and gave the guy directions for us to get there, and also bargained the price to take us there!! It was a nice experience, and not one that we come by often.
For lunch we stopped at a small restaurant on the way to Jal Mahal. Food was simple, and very tasty. nothing very great or fancy, but it was a pleasant stop.
Jal Mahal was the only disappointment in the whole trip. TGhe palace was going throough some renovations. That was ok, but the lake was left uncleaned. It was dirty, and definately stank. Not good.
The final stop of the day was Amber Palace.
Our driver here refused to take the car up the hill, saying the roads are not good, and they would spoil his car. So we had to hire a jeep to take us up. On the way however, we stopped at a small ancient temple. It was mid-noon, so the priest was not in, and the diety was behind closed doors. That didnt detract from the beauty of the temple though. It was a pleasant 15 mins that we spent there, esp after the disappointment of Jal Mahal.
Amber Fort, also called Amer Fort, is located on a hill about 11 km from Jaipur.
The fort is divided into four main sections each with its own entry gate and courtyard. Main entry is through the Suraj Pol (Sun Gate) which leads to Jaleb Chowk, which is the first main courtyard. An impressive stairway from the Jaleb Chowk leads into the main palace grounds.
The second courtyard, up the main stairway of the first level courtyard, houses the Diwan-i-Am or the Public Audience Hall. Built with double row of columns, the Diwan-i-Am is a raised platform with 27 colonnades, each of which is mounted with elephant shaped capital with galleries above it. As the name suggests, the Raja held audience here to hear and receive petitions from the public.
The third courtyard is where the private quarters of the Maharaja, his family and attendants were built. This courtyard is entered through the Ganesh Pol or Ganesh Gate, which is embellished with mosaics and sculptures. The court yard has two buildings, one opposite to the other, separated by a garden laid in the fashion of the Mughal Gardens.
The building to the left of the entrance gate is called the Jai Mandir (Sheesh Mahal), which is exquisitely beautified with glass inlaid panels and multi-mirrored ceilings. The mirrors are of convex shape and designed with coloured foil and paint which would glitter bright under candle nights at the time it was in use.
The other building seen in the court yard is opposite to the Jai Mandir and is known as the Sukh Niwas or Sukh Mahal (Hall of Pleasure). This hall is approached through a sandalwood door with marble inlay work with perforations. A piped water supply flows through an open channel that runs through this edifice keeping the environs cool, as in an air conditioned environment. In a previous visit, my husband and inlaws were able to go in and see these 2 buildings closely. Now however, it is closed off, and the public can view if from behind a barricade.
A nice wallk-through the palace finally brought us to an end to our trip here at Jaipur. Memorable, short, and sweet!