Thursday, February 14, 2008


The Pink City
Prince amongst the cities of India

Jaipur, or the Pink City, is the undisputed prince amongst the cities of India.
Status of Royalty in India - Pathetic
Someone wrote to me enquiring about the present status of the Royalty in India.
There were 547 kings and rulers in India before 1947.
After India attained independence, all these kingdoms seamlessly merged into India.
But the rulers were given privy purse, annual sums of money, as compensation.
They were also allowed to keep their palaces, jewelley, etc. and certain other privileges.

In 1969, Indira Gandhi abolished the privy purse - indirectly snatching away all their rights and privileges.
Overnight, the kings became commoners.
So now they are treated just like common men.

A few ex-rulers like Karan Singh and late Madhav Rao Scindia entered politics.
Many converted their palaces into five star or heritage hotels to maintain themselves.
A few rulers are still respected by the people.

Glamorous Maharani Gayatri Devi
Maharani (Queen) Gayatri Devi of Jaipur (Born 23 May, 1919) is one of the world’s most glamorous ladies.
Foreign magazines rated her amongst the most beautiful ladies of the world.
She had her education in Shantiniketan (West Bengal) and abroad.
At the young age of 17, she fell in love with, and married Man Singh, then the heir to the Maharajah of Jaipur.
Gayatri’s parents, the Maharajah and Maharani of Cooch Behar, were against the marriage, because Man Singh already had two wives - daughters of the Maharajah of Jodhpur, but Gayatri Devi had her way.
She contested the Indian Parliamentary Election in 1962 and won - creating a Guinness record for the record number of votes polled.
She won the elections again in 1967 and 1971.
She spends the summers in England.
You can see more of her and her photographs at the following site:

Privy Purse

Most of us are not aware that the word ‘privy purse’ refers to the British Sovereign’s private income, mostly from the Duchy of Lancaster.
What is astounding is that that after deduction of the amounts spent for official purposes, the remaining income is fully taxed.
I have visited Jaipur earlier too.
Recently, we had a couple of German guests.
We decided to take them to Jaipur.


The City of Jaipur in Rajasthan, India was founded in 1727 A.D by the Kachhawa ruler Sawai (meaning one and a quarter) Jai Singh II (1700 - 1747 A.D.) - one of the greatest Indian rulers.
Jaipur is surrounded by the Aravali hills on three sides.
It glitters like a jewel amidst the sandy deserts of Rajasthan and is surrounded by historical forts, majestic palaces, mansions and gardens of great architectural beauty.

Jaipur is remarkable for its fabulous architecture and town planning.
It is the only city in the world which is divided into nine rectangular sectors representing the nine divisions of the universe.
It is also the first planned city designed built in accordance with Vaastu Shilpa Shastra - the ancient mystic science of Hindu architecture.

Jaipur is popularly known as the ‘Pink City’, because in 1883 A.D., the Maharajah of Jaipur ordered the entire city to be white washed in pink to welcome Prince Albert, the consort of Queen Victoria of England.
Ever since, all the buildings in Jaipur are pink washed.

Jaipur is a unique synthesis of modern and traditional culture.
The people here are lively.
Even today, you will meet weather beaten faces under huge colourful turbans, with unbelievably fierce moustaches and lips that are ever ready to erupt into the most charming smile.
You will meet ladies in traditional colourful Rajasthani attire.
They too will give you the million dollar smile.

Places to See

City palace
The City Palace Complex is a blend of Mughal and Rajasthani architecture.
Most of the buildings were built by Sawai Jai Singh II.
The present Maharajah - Brigadier Sawai Bhawani Singh - still lives in a portion of the palace. The glamorous Gayatri Devi lives in a separate palace in Jaipur.
But she spends the Indian summers in London - a practice she has followed for over forty years.
You can see a vast collection of royal costumes in the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum: Exclusive and precious Pashmina (Kashmiri) shawls, Benarasi silk saris, Sanganeri prints and folk embroidery.
You can also see the voluminous clothes worn by the voluminous Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh I (rule 1750-1768 A.D.).

You can also see well preserved ancient Rajput weapons in the adjoining Maharani’s Palace (the Queen’s Palace) - some date back to the 15th century.
They have been preserved extremely well.
You can see protective chain armour, small canons, guns, pistols, gun powder pouches, jewel embedded ivory handled swords, belt swords, poison tipped blades, and the remarkable scissor-action dagger.

Amber Fort
Amber (pronounced Amer), situated about 11 kilometres from Jaipur, was the capital of the Kachhawa rulers (ancestors of the present Maharajas) before they shifted their capital to Jaipur.

The Amber Fort, set atop picturesque hills, is a blend of Hindu and Mughal architecture.
It was constructed by Raja Man Singh I in 1592 and completed by Sawai Jai Singh I.
The Fort is made of red sand stone and white marble.
The rugged exterior hides the luxurious interior which is virtually a paradise.
The Maota Lake in front gives the fort a breathtaking view.

Jaigarh Fort

During the Mughal era, Jaipur region was a major weapon producing centre for the Mughal and Rajput rulers, several of which are on display in the fort’s museum.

The Jaigarh Fort is the most spectacular of the three hilltop forts that overlook Jaipur.
It is one of the few military structures of medieval India preserved almost intact, containing palaces, a granary, a well-planned canon foundry, several temples and a tall tower.Jaigarh Fort is also known as the Fort of Victory.

On display are a collection of canons, many of which are exquisitely decorated and were used by Raja Man Singh in his campaigns against the Mughals.
You can also see the Jai Ban (Jaivan), the largest mounted canon in the world.
Jaigarh Fort was once responsible for the security of both Jaipur and Amber.

Nahargarh Fort
Nahargarh Fort located on the rugged ridge of Aravali Hills was built by Jai Singh in 1734 and extended in 1868.
Nahargarh, which means abode of the tigers, was built to add to the defense of Amber.
The Madhavendra Bhawan, built by Sawai Ram Singh II, has a cluster of 12 identical suits for queens.
At the head is the king’s suit.
The rooms are linked by corridors and retain some delicate frescoes as well as toilets and kitchen hearths.
This is the most photographed landmark of Jaipur.
The five-storey Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds) built by the Poet king Sawai Pratap Singh is really only a facade.

It consists of 953 honeycombed sandstone windows known as ‘jharokhas’ (windows) and was originally built for ladies of the royal household to watch everyday life and processions in the city from their veiled comfort.

You can climb to the top for a wonderful view from the latticed windows.

Jantar Mantar

Sawai Jai Singh II was literally immersed in astronomy and numerology.
He constructed Jantar Mantars (observatories) in Delhi, Jaipur, Varanasi and Ujjain.
The one in Jaipur has 14 instruments and is the largest.The primitive stone instruments made by him are still functional to an astounding degree of accuracy.The sun dials give accurate time.
Ram Niwas Garden and Albert Hall.
Just outside the walled city is the sprawling Ram Niwas Garden, a place for royal recreation since the reign of Sawai Ram Singh.

The exquisitely designed garden has pools and fountains, sprawling lawns and beautiful flower beds all around.

In the middle of the garden is Albert Hall designed by Sir Swinton Jacob, a British architect who designed many palaces in Rajasthan.
You can see a rich collection of artefacts like paintings, carpets, ivory, stone and metal sculptures and colourful crystal works, etc.

Opposite the Albert Hall is one of the oldest Zoos in the country.

Chokhi Dhani (18 kilometres from Jaipur)
Chokhi Dhani which literally meaning “Fine Hamlet” is a 5 star ethenic resort - the only one of its kind in India.
There are authentic looking mud and thatch cottages, suites and conferences halls, multi-cuisine restaurant, and also traditional Rajasthani food mixed with Rajasthani welcome.
The Resort is more like a traditional village with all modern amenities rather than an hotel.It is an experience.

See Tigers in the Wild

You can take a trip to Ranthambhore National Park or Sariska Tiger Reserve.
You could see the majestic tigers, deer and other animals in the wild.

Fairs and Festivals

The Rajasthanis celebrate festivals with great enthusiasm and fervour.
Some of the more festival festivals are: Elephant Festival, Gangaur Festival, Teej and Kite Festival.

Fact File

Summer - light tropical or cotton
Winter - woollens
Best Season to visit - October to March.

Reaching there

Jaipur is well connected with all the major cities of India.

Well connected with the major cities of India.

Jaipur has a very good road network.

Distances from Jaipur

Agra 236 km
Ajmer 131 km
Bharatpur 176 km
Bikaner 321 km
Bombay 1202 km
Delhi 258 km
Jaisalmer 638 km
Jodhpur 316 km
Udaipur 405 km


Jaipur, Agra and Delhi comprise the Golden Triangle for tourists. Jaipur is a bustling capital city and a business centre with all the trapping of a modern metropolis yet possessing an age old charm linked to kings, palaces and forts.

It is also a place you could use as a centre to see a number of surrounding places.

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