Finding the available water resources inadequate for the growing population of his prosperous capital city Amer, in 1726 Jai Singh II, the King, founded Jaipur 11 kilometres away. The hills on which Amer fort and palaces, along with the adjoining Jaigarh and Nahargarh forts have been under continuous occupation since 11th century. Much of Amer fort is actually a palace complex built during his rule by Raja Man Singh in late 16th and early 17th centuries. Jaigarh and Nahargarh forts formed the main defence mechanism. The foundries of Jaigarh fort produced the most advanced cannons of the time. The Jaivana Cannon on display at the ramparts of the fort weighs more than 50 tons, could be rotated 360 degrees to fire in any direction and could throw a ball weighing 50 kilograms as far as 35 kilometres. The cannon never saw action though.
Images from the Palace
Jaipur, only 260 kilometres from New Delhi, the national capital is easily accessible both by road and air. Probably youngest of the old cities of the country, Jaipur is a better planned city. Palaces were built for members of the royal family and areas were earmarked for residences of the elite shifting from Amer, the now defunct capital. Jaipur is one of the most important tourist centres in north India popular with both, domestic and foreign visitors. Must see places include, in addition to the already mentioned Amer, Jaigarh and Nahargarh forts, Jantar Mantar, Hawa Mahal and City Palace.
Maharaja Jai Singh, a keen astronomer, built five observatories at Jaipur, Delhi, Mathura, Ujjain and Varanasi to observe planetary movements, coordinates of stars, their altitudes, distances etc. The term “Jantar Mantar” is a corruption of Sanskrit “yantra” meaning instrument and “mantra” meaning consultation. Of the five Jantar Mantars, the largest, and the best, is the one at Jaipur. The instruments are constructed from the locally available material. Stone and marble was used in Jaipur.
Not far from Jantar Mantar is the five storey Hawa Mahal with its 953 small latticework windows which keep the structure cool even in summer. The main purpose of Hawa Mahal was to enable the royal ladies observe festivities without being seen themselves. Hawa Mahal is connected to the ladies quarter of City Palace.
Some of the many instruments at Jantar Mantar
The City Palace
The construction of the palace started when Maharaja Jai Singh II laid the foundation of Jaipur and subsequent rulers kept adding to the palace complex till as late as the 20th century. The erstwhile royal family still resides in the larger part of the palace. The smaller portion housing a museum is open to public.
Images from the City Palace
A visit to Jaipur is incomplete without a visit to Chokhi Dhani, a short drive from Jaipur on Tonk Road. It is an ethnic village conceptualised and developed to portray Rajasthani village life.
Villagers live in huts
Interior of a decorated hut
Images from the village