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Explore Jaipur, The Pink City, India

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Jaipur, also known as the Pink City because Maharaja Ram Singh had all the Old City painted a welcoming pink in 1876 to herald a visit by the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII).  Jaipur is also the bustling capital of the state of Rajasthan.  It is a picturesque city with the splendid Chandra Mahal (City Palace), Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds), Jantar Mantar (an ancient space observatory), the Amber Fort and Jal Mahal (Water Palace).

 

Chandra Mahal, City Palace

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City Palace is an imposing blend of traditional Rajput and Mughal architecture.  It is a vast palace complex occupying nearly one-seventh of the Pink City.  It was originally built by Maharaja Jai Singh II. The complex is divided into a series of courtyards, sprawling gardens and buildings.  It is home to several palatial structures like the Chandra Mahal, (home to present Maharajah of Jaipur), Mubarak Mahal (housing a textile museum), Diwan-e-Khas (or Hall of Private audience housing the two largest silver vessels in the world), the Diwan-e-Aam ( or Hall of Public Audience) and the gateway Ridhi Sidhi Pol (with four small doorways decorated with motifs depicting the four seasons).

 

 

Hawa Mahal, Palace of the Winds

Hawa Mahal, PHawa Mahal-Palace of the Winds-India-india tours-Jaipur- historical architecture-architecture, Palacealace of the Winds, is so named because its unique five-storey exterior is akin to the honeycomb of a beehive with its 953 small windows decorated with intricate latticework.  The lattice was to allow royal ladies to observe everyday life in the street below without being seen.  Constructed of red and pink sandstone, the palace sits on the edge of the City Palace, and extends to the zenana, or women’s’ chambers.

This photograph shows how the females of the royal household inside the Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds) could observe the street from the inside of the palace while remaining unseen from the outside.

 

 

Jantar Mantar

Jantar Mantar is a UNESCO world heritage site and the largest of five astronomical observatories built by Maharaja Jai Singh in the early 18th century. The observatory consists of fourteen major geometric devices for measuring time, predicting eclipses, tracking stars in their orbits, ascertaining the declinations of planets, determining the celestial altitudes, etc.

Designed for the observation of astronomical positions with the naked eye, they embody several architectural and instrumental innovations.  This is the most significant, most comprehensive and the best preserved of India’s historic observatories. It is an expression of the astronomical skills and cosmological concepts of the court of a scholarly prince at the end of the Mughal period.

Amber Fort

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This massive 16th century fort-palace complex built in hybrid Hindu-Muslim style dates back to Raja Man Singh.  It’s one of six world heritage forts in Rajasthan.  It perches on a hillside overlooking the dusty plains below, regal palaces, sleepy villages, and stone carved temples.  The name has nothing to do with its rather pretty pastel yellow color; instead the fort is named after the town of Amber, in turn named after the goddess Amba.  The main sights within the fort include the Sheesh Mahal, adorned with thousands upon thousands of mirror tiles on the walls and ceiling.  If you shine a flashlight at the ceiling you’ll be greeted by the sight of what seem like a never ending cascade of jewels studded into the stonework.

To reach the summit, you can ride up on an elephant or a jeep or enjoy a hike.

Riding up to the fort on an elephant is a unique experience and offers a fantastic view over the city. It’s a very interesting feeling, sitting atop one of these great big fascinating animals as they amble up towards the ancient orange building.  The elephants at the Amber Fort are beautifully painted, well cared for and very gentle.

Jal Mahal, the Water Palace

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Jal Mahal (the Water Palace) is located in the middle of the Man Sagar Lake in Jaipur city, the capital of the state of Rajasthan, India. The palace was a shooting lodge for the Maharajah.  The Man Sagar lake was created by constructing a dam across the Darbhawati River,

 

The Jal Mahal palace is considered an architectural beauty built in the Rajput style of architecture (common in Rajasthan) providing a picturesque view of the lake, and the surrounding Nahargarh (abode of the tigers) hills. The red sandstone palace is a five-storey building, of which four floors remain under water when the lake is full and only the top floor is exposed. To a casual observer, the palace appears to be only a single story building, but there are actually a further four submerged levels.

The hills surrounding the lake area, towards the north east of Jaipur, have quartzite rock formations.  The reserve forest area of the lake catchment harbors several wild life species such as deer, jungle cat, striped hyena, Indian fox, Indian wild boar and leopards.

 

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