Bored of dull colours and muted tunes in life??!! Head to Jaipur – the capital of Rajasthan. My first impression of Jaipur was that it’s only an eclectic mix of vibrant colours and cacophony of beeping two-wheelers and honking auto-rickshaws but in just a few days my opinion about the city changed manifold.
You see I am basically a Rajasthani living in Bengal, so when I get a chance to visit my native state, I of course jump to the opportunity. Rajasthan is the perfect blend of everything – architecture, people, tradition, music and savouries. I love everything about it – from the invincible forts to the magnificent fortresses, from the unbearable heat of the desert to its bone chilling winters, from the traditional costumes to the pleasing folk music and from the cooling beverage of chaach to the authentic food of sweet churma and spicy dal baati. EtCetra. Rajasthan has it all !
In my time in the capital, I went berserk behaving like a tourist, just to come at par with other travellers. I don’t really like it when someone mentions how wonderful a place is that I haven’t been to.
Before I tell you more, let me ask you something .. What kind of a person are you, one who scrolls through a list of 50 or more places to visit in a city or the one who looks for the best five? .. Hmm.. I am the minimalist and that’s what I am going to feed you with. Here are my cherry picked five forts to visit in Jaipur to call your trip complete. Of course I will tell you about Jaipur’s delicacies and bazaars too but lets save it for another post.
Hawa Mahal : The eminently popular Hawa Mahal or the Palace of Breeze is the jewel in the crown of Jaipur. This honeycomb hive structure of five storeys was built by Sawai Pratap Singh for the royal ladies. The women in those days followed ‘Purdah system’ and weren’t allowed to show their face to strangers. Hence for them to enjoy the processions held during the widely celebrated festivals of Teej and Gangaur this red and pink monument came into existence. This structure is an extension of the women chamber of City Palace or the royal residence.
The Mahal has 953 windows or jharokhas. Rajasthan is an extremely hot place to be in summers, hence in the times when air conditioners were non-existent it was only wise to make best use of natural wind. Hawa Mahal kept the Maharanis and their servants cool during long hours of procession watching. Also, since they were extremely small in size it helped the women enjoy the festival without the worries of common public looking at them.
Amber Fort : If you are in Jaipur, Amber fort might be one of the main reasons of your visit. Amber Fort or Amer Ka Kila is one of the principal attractions in the city (hmm.. or a lil out of the city ). Before I mention how grand and majestic the fort was, do remember that you must dedicate one whole day of your life to this unbelievably enchanting fort. Start early, explore all the corners, listen to the mysterious stories (which do change depending on the guide you hire), take a ride through the dilapidated town of Amer, watch the Amber light and fountain show in the evening and after that just do nothing, head back to your hotel and relax.
To give you a brief idea, Amber fort has seven gates in total. You can enter through Surj Pol (Sun Gate) or Chaand Pol (Moon Gate), but the Ganesh Pol which leads to the royal chambers is the gate you wouldn’t like to miss. My favourite part of the palace was Sheesh Mahal or Palace of Mirrors which gets lit completely by a single candle flame. What really attracts me to Indian architecture is the art and science of designing used in those days.
Jantar Mantar : Quizzzz tiiiime ! Where would you find the largest sundial in the world??? In the observatory of Jantar Mantar in Jaipur. Do you now get it why you should undoubtedly visit this place? I am an astronomy lover, so much that if you keep following my blog, someday you might find astronomical updates here instead of travel posts. I would have totally visited this place even without the biggest sundial 😉
So the story goes like this, that Sawai Jai Singh II of Amber, who also made the fortified (walled) city of Jaipur and named it after him had deep interest in both architecture and astronomy. His love for astronomy and mathematics led him to commission this observatory which has high precision instruments to calculate time and measure the latitude and longitude of celestial objects. All the instruments are mainly made out of stone and they are unbelievably accurate.
Nahargarh Fort : Located just a couple of kilometres out of the city on the edge of the Aravalli hills is the Nahargarh fort. The fort was built by Raja Jai Singh but was named Nahargarh. Asking around I got to know that there are many possible theories behind its name. One that the fort was named after a Rathore prince, Nahar Singh Bhomia because the place once belonged to him and his spirit did not allow an easy construction of the fort until a shrine was built for him on Raja Jai Singh’s order. The other theory doing rounds is that Nahargarh means ‘Abode of Tigers’ since the place was then flocked by many tigers. Like I mentioned before, the guides are divided in their opinions, better do your homework online before heading to a place.
The fort in itself is a marvellous piece of architecture with the Sheesh Mahal, the two stepwells or baodis and the interconnected exquisite boudoir of the twelve queens, but the ultimate thing for which you must visit Nahargarh is the spectacular views of both Amer and Jaipur. Additional attractions like the wax museum and the fort restaurant keep it brimming with crowd all day.
Jaigarh Fort : Like you must have guessed it, Jaigarh fort too was built by Sawai Jai Singh II of Jaipur. Jai in English means victory so the primary purpose of this fort was to protect the Amber Fort and keep it victorious. Visit it if you are intrigued by war and weapons. In those days it was a storehouse of arms, artilleries and other kind of weapons. This place also houses the largest cannon on wheels in the world, Jaivana. There is a popular story which you would anyways hear if you visit this place but to the unfortunates – don’t worry when I am there 😉 It is said that there was an unfathomable treasure hidden under this fort which no one knew about until the year 1970. After which, but of course it was seized by the government in no time. The nation still wants to know what exactly happened with all that jewel.
Disclaimer : My posts are not perfect and are truly based on my understanding of the city. If you have a different opinion, please leave a comment or contact me, I would love to hear from you.