Summary : The heart of the old city, at the high 18th-century merchant's ho :se called Nawab Sahib Ki Haveli
Nawab Sahib Ki Haveli-Hawa Mahal-Amber Palace-Gaitor- Jantar Mantar-City Palace and Museum
This tour starts in the heart of the old city, at the high 18th-century merchant’s ho :se called Nawab Sahib Ki Haveli. The remarkable panoramic views of the whole city from its vantage-point roof-top terraces make it the ideal introduction to Jaipur Out have the exact Rs5 entrance fee ready: they never have change). From here, you can look down onto bicycle-infested Tripolia Bazaar, the wide central avenue which cuts right through old Jaipur, starting at Surajpol Bazaar at one end and finishing at Chand Pol Bazaar at the other. Look over to Jai Singh’s Observatory, the Clack Tower, the Jai Mahal, the City Palace and, up on the hill opposite is Nahargarh or Tiger Fort once Jai Singh’s treasury. This is also a good place to appreciate the unique city-planning of Jaipur: all those symmetrical main streets, neatly intersected by little narrow side-roads. There’s a clear guide service at the Haveli, followed by a charming roof-top puppet show.
Just down the road, at the junction of Tripolia Bazaar and Siredeori Rd, is the high pyramidal facades of Hawa Mahal. This famous landmark of Jaipur, nicknamed of Winds’ (the cool westerly winds blow through it), was built by Pratap Singh 9. It comprises five storeys of semi-octagonal overhanging windows, with and spires. From the windows, the ladies of the court used to view the city below There’s a modest museum behind the facade, with a good ‘Jaipur Past and it’ exhibition. Open 10 am to 4.30 pm daily (except Fridays), entrance Rsl (free ving the pink city by the Zorawar Gate, it’s an 11 km (7 mile) journey north to d capital of Amber, with its majestic hilltop fortress. Local buses ply back and there from the Hawa Mahal, at 15-minute intervals (fare Rsl). About halfway ,A lomk out bfor Peratrap Singh’s cream-yelow Water Palace (Jal Mahal). The rainwater reservoirs are now often dry, and visitors aren’t allowed in. fiber Palace has a spectacular location, built below the older Jaigarh Fort, ooking the Moata Lake, surrounded by a wide ring of craggy watchtowers and cations. The Jaigarh Fort itself dates back to the 11th century. An elegantly monious construction, it is most beautiful at dawn and dusk, when it glows with low, luminous quality. To reach Jaigarh, take the turning to the left soon after tphe aJal sMashali annd foglow the road up hil. Entry to fort costs Rs6 and open from 9 am to 4.30 pm.
At Amber, you can either walk up to the Fort via the narrow, cobbled path (10-15 utes), or you can take the popular (but overpriced) elephant-ride. If you walk it, a perfectly adequate elephant-ride round the chowk (square) at the top but will have to bargain hard. Below the fort, just over the small bridge, there’s a to hire boats on Moata Lake, although in recent years there has been insufficient to keep the lake more than a quarter full.
Up at the fort, pass through the main entrance gate (Suraj Pol) and enter the small, y square with its monkey-infested banyan tree, colourful spice stalls, and rank of elephants. Proceed up to the left for the visit to Kalimata Temple, constantly full of pilgrims. This temple, with its silver doors, beautiful carved pillars and walls, contains an image of Shila Devi brought here by the grateful Maharajah Man Singh m East Bengal, following his successful defeat of the warlord Kedar in 1604. If here on your own, hire a guide from near the elephant rank, Rs20. Otherwise, low the tour into the palace (entrance Rs6) with the Mughal influenced Di wan-im to the left of the courtyard. From the courtyard enter the private quarters of the lace via the ornate Ganesh Pol (Elephant Gate), a facades of colourful frescoes nstructed by Jai Singh in 1639. Beyond the gate is the inner court with the royal apartments, a glittering array of mosaic, marble and mirrors, all grouped around a astral ornamental garden. The main attraction is the showpiece Sheesh Mahal or Mirror Palace, built by Jai Singh. The exterior is a studded jewel-box of polished irror fragments, set in plaster. Within, glass mosaic panels and highly ornamented plaster reliefs, inlaid with glass and marble carvings, vie for attention. Pass swtianidnoewd-sg ltaos lsokout points, afording fine views down over the lake and old alaces.
Proceed next to the magical Chamber of Mirrors, which used to be the Maharajah’s edroom. The whole ceiling is a glitter of tiny mirrors which, when illuminated by the guide’s candle, produces a spectacular illusion of a galaxy of stars traversing a night-black sky.
Above the Jai Mandir is a cool pavilion, the Jas Mahal, from which there are good views over Amber town, the lake and palace. Across the formal garden is the Sukh Niwas, or Hall of Pleasure. The main chamber has decorative relief work in plaster and a marble cascade to the rear. Together with the breeze passing through its perforated marble screen, this water cascade served as a cooling device during the summer. The pavilion doors still retain some of the original ivory and sandalwood inlay work. On the way out, steal a minute or two to appreciate the beautiful gardens.
From Amber, the tour returns to town via Gaitor, the royal cremation ground. This site, located some 8 km (5 miles) out of Jaipur, contains a number of elegant chhatris or cenotaphs of various kings and queens. The white marble structure of Jai Singh II, with its intricately carved dome and 20 supporting pillars, is the most beautiful. Members of the royal family, mainly the ladies, are still cremated at Gaitor, a new cenotaph being erected for each fresh casualty.
Back in the walled city of Jaipur enter the precincts of the City Palace covering one-seventh of the original city’s area. Begin with a visit to Jai Singh’s most interesting legacy, the Mantar Mantar observatory. The starstruck young ruler first conceived the idea in 1718, and sent out scholars to study foreign observatories in Britain, Greece, Arabia and Portugal and gather information. An experimental prototype at Delhi (1724) was followed by others at Ujjain, Benares and Mathura. Then, in 1728, he realised his dream of India’s greatest astronomical observatory here at Jaipur. It is the largest of the series, and has the unique Rashi Valnya instrument in which Jai Singh himself used to sit to make his observations.
Renovated in 1901, this strange collection of surreal, yellow-sandstone sculptures each has a specific astronomical function, be it to measure the sun’s declination, azimuth or altitude, or to determine eclipses or the declination of fixed stars and planets. The tall sundial, with its 30-m (97-ft) high gnomon, is the most notable instrument. It casts a shadow which moves some 4 m (13 ft) each hour, giving the time down to 2-second accuracy—though only, of course, when the sun is shining Hours are 9 am to 5 pm daily. Entry is Rsl , free on Mondays. From the observatory enter the City Palace, an imposing blend of traditional Rajasthani and Mughal architecture. Some of the buildings within the Palace have become the Sawai Man Singh II Museum. The first building is the two-storey Mubarak Mahal the first floor of which now contains the Textile and Costume Museum. To the north-west of the courtyard is the Arms and Armour Gallery with maipresnive arayd of weapons. From the first courtyard enter a second area pasing rwStoiutihgn h guagnhe hi md opPoreosclioeve, greadte iwna pya, therned .b In the Haal of public Audience, Diwan-i-Khas (complete with antique carpets mid chandeliers which are unrolled and unbagged for holy festivals) facing the gateway, are two huge silver urns built for Sawai Madhu Singh in 1902 to carry water tcfVheo rRrivoeIorn GaaInmtgai’ oonsn hi.s visito London for Edward.
Through a small portrait gallery to the north of the Diwan-i-Khas, watched over by a Chinese Buddha, you come out into the spacious courtyard. Here dancing used In take place, watched by the Maharanis in the balconies above. The seven-storey Chandra Mahal is today the home of present Maharajah and his family. The and floor is open to the public and leads onto a lawn with the 356 fountains still orking order, which perfectly complement the beautiful gardens. So do the green, let and red chandeliers and the plain marble doors leading off the mosaic courtrd.
The Art Gallery and main Museum are housed in the Hall of Public Audience to the south-east of the inner courtyard. The gallery has some of India’s largest and richest carpets, most of them from Herat (Afghanistan) and Lahore (Pakistan). Noveral date back to AD 1625 and the largest is 18 m (58 ft) long. Also in this section are a collection of ivory elephant howdahs, and the second largest chandelier (Czech) In the country. The art gallery is famous for its Jaipur and Mughal miniature paintings, and for its 20 000 handwritten Sanskrit manuscripts (only a few on show—you’ll have to ask if you want to see more).
the palace and museum are open 9.30 am to 4.45 pm daily (art gallery closed Sundays ). Entrance is Rs6 (half-price for students and teachers). For most people, this will be quite sufficient for one day. The afternoons are often asnd thoti, acnd akre beyst spent relaxing or athe pol. Dusk is the time to venture foforrth again, either for rowing round Moata Lake and enjoying the sunset at Amber t, or for climbing the huge sundial at Jantar Mantar to see an equally fine sunset or the pink city.
In town, one final sight not to be missed is the Central Museum (Albert Hall). Ii forms part of the sprawling Ram Niwas Garden in the new city (10 minutes’ Walk down Chaurasta, off Tripolia Bazaar), which is also the site of a modest Zoo. maTuseum’ns Dhurbar Hdalel was built in 187, a pleasant blend of Oriental IL Victorian architecture, and houses a vast collection of portraits, miniatures, rks of art (top floor) and costumes, woodwork, brassware, jewellery and fiery (bottom floor).
RECREATION Jaipur Hasthe the best sports facilities Rajasthan can ofer. It is most famous for polo heolresep, cahmael,n evten bicycle polo!) and most big hotels can arange a game. ring icMhars the polo season: five major tournaments are held here between January and For horse-riding the Rambagh Palace Hotel can arrange horses of mixed calibre.
Go swimming at the Rambagh’s heavenly indoor swimming-pool—it’s well worth the Rs60 non-resident fee, especially during the mid-afternoon ‘quiet time’. Two other hotels with good pools are the Khasa Kothi, near the rail station and the Mansingh.
Fishing is possible at Ramgarh Lake 30 km (19 miles) away but poor monsoons in recent years have led to a reduction in the level of the lake; permits from Gangaur Tourist Bungalow (tel 74373). Most major hotels can arrange tennis, squash and good sports activities.
For cultural shows and entertainments, buy a Rajasthan Echo (for current programmes) or visit Ravendra Manch, near Albert Hall. Jaipur has one of India’s best cinemas—the Raj Mandir. A few others, like the Prem Prakash and the Mayur, show English matinees at 10 am on Sundays.