Explore the Golden Triangle – Jaipur
The first time I heard about Jaipur was when I was like 7 or 8. I was watching Oscar winning director Satyajit Ray’s the ‘Golden Fort’ and in it, one of the main protagonists referred to a Fort in Jaipur – the Nahargarh Fort. It’s that moment I came to be familiar with the name Jaipur and of course about its magnificent Rajput Forts. Three decades later I am still wide-eyed about the city’s many architectural specimens and the fantastic stories of her kings and queens.
Some basic facts of Jaipur
But Jaipur, part of the famed golden triangle of India, isn’t some isolated beacon in the middle of a vast desert. The erstwhile princely states of Udaipur, Mewar, Jaisalmer and Jodhpur are all littered with powerful examples of architecture, finest collection of art and a legacy that still fills the hearts and minds of the people who live there. These were the lands of some of the mightiest kings and queens of India. The land brims with stories of their valiant struggle against a then emerging power, the Mughals and their ultimate surrender to the colonial rule in the sub-continent.
Jaipur, however, deserves a special mention. Widely recognized as the Pink city, Jaipur is the home of the Kachwaha clan of Rajputs. King Sawai Jai Singh II was deeply intrigued with mathematics and the science of structural designing. His ambition to build a stronger and more defendable city / capital led to a design that resulted in the construction of the first planned city of India. Jaipur is a remarkable city in its own rights.
Jaipur places to see
Jaipur, today, is a congregation of the old and the modern. Increasing population and the growing demands of urbanization has meant that the new city has outgrew the old design. Thus the original planned city housing the royal residence, the old market in Jaipur and some of the popular architectural attractions now form the core of the city. The modern city encircles that core area and extends beyond.
Within the massive fortified walls of the old city lies such tourist attractions as the Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds) and the City Palace (residence of the erstwhile ruling family of Jaipur), which has an excellent museum. The Hawa Mahal is an intricate design that served as a looking balcony for the queens and womenfolk of the palace. They peeped through one of the 953 honeycomb styled windows and observed the commoners, the festivities and processions that went past. The Hawa Mahal, designed out of red and pink sandstone is situated at the farthest corner of the royal palace and had connections leading to the women’s chambers.
Another notable attraction of the city is the magnificent Jal Mahal, a marvel of 18th century structural design and a brainchild of the then king of Jaipur Sawai Madho Singh I. The palace served as a royal retreat for the ruling family, though the original idea of the water reservoir was to hold water for the dry months during which it served the purpose of irrigation.
The Amber fort is probably the best known of all the structural attractions of the city. The Amber Fort (the first picture above) or popularly known as Amer Fort in local dialect is an imposing structure sitting high on a hill that overlooks the old city and an adjacent Lake (the Maota Lake). The Amber Fort is dominated by the Jaigarh Fort which towers above and is built on the Aravalli hills. The two forts served as a formidable defense for the city and had underground passages that connected the two. The best way to reach the amber fort is on an elephant in typical Jaipur tradition.
How to reach Jaipur
Jaipur is well connected with major cities in Rajasthan as well as the Indian capital which is 260 KM away via an excellent road network. It takes about 6-7 hours depending on the traffic to reach Jaipur by road from New Delhi. By air it is a short hop from New Delhi and there are a large number of flights from the national capital as well as from other major metros of the country. By far the flight route is more comfortable, but if you want to see rural Rajasthan then you’ve got to take the cab. For less than $200 you can get a cab from New Delhi, which will take you through all the sights in Jaipur and then drop you back to New Delhi as a part of the Delhi Jaipur golden triangle tour. Trains can get a bit noisy and jam-packed, especially if you are traveling during the season, which is November to February.
Places to stay in Jaipur
Jaipur has a good mix of luxury, family and budget bread & breakfast type accommodations. For as low as $20 a night to more than $1500+ a night the choices are simply vast. If you want a more authentic Rajput style of accommodation, then look for a higher budget. For a homely accommodation look for one of the many homestay accommodations around Bani Park.
The golden triangle – Jaipur – By Rajib Mukherjee
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