Far away from the city centre, lies the historic Galtaji Temple which was a drought-stricken place in the past. Centuries ago an ascetic named Galav meditated for more than a hundred years to appease the Gods and Goddesses, who then blessed him and the fervent locals with a perennial natural spring in this region. In the 18th Century, this temple was built in honour of the selfless effort of the saint. Galtaji has many temples within its premises. The pink sandstone exteriors and spellbinding architecture of these temples might easily be mistaken for palaces. Situated atop the hill, this temple dedicated to the Sun God, is considered the most sacred of all the shrines here. On auspicious occasions, devotees cleanse themselves in the holy natural springs and offer their prayers to God. Positive vibrations of devotional hymns and expansive views of the city, contribute to the tranquility of this sacred space.
The City Palace came into existence pretty much around the same time as the city of Jaipur itself. The original palace was built by Sawai Jai Singh II, and over the years his successors brought about numerous additions to it. Clad in pink sandstone, the royal abode is one of the city's most visited attractions; it's a treat for the travellers and pride of the locals. City Palace is more of a complex consisting of the Mubarak Mahal, Diwan-i-Aam, or hall of the audience, Sileh Khana, Chandra Mahal and Govind Dev Ji Temple. Even today, a part of this complex is inhabited by descendants of the royal family; however, entry to those sections is restricted. The rest has been converted into museums, galleries, or shops. Today, the gallery displays paintings, pottery and various such art forms that can even be bought. Diwan-i-Khas still has on display, the humongous silver vessel that has found its way to the Guinness Records. The Buggy Khana, Sileh Khana or the house of weapons and Sabha Niwas still have traces of the glorious bygone Rajput era.
Jantar Mantar is a fantastic collation of astronomical instruments planned by the visionary ruler of Jaipur, Maharaja Jai Singh II. After a successful construction of Jantar Mantar in Delhi, the Maharaja built the same in Jaipur, which also happens to be the largest observatory in India. In 1901, the devices were restored with white marble and red sandstone for better clarity in denoting time. Jantar and Mantar mean instrument and calculation respectively. The Jaipur location comprises of 16 geometric instruments that measure time across various dimensions including latitude, longitude, position of the sun, planet inclination and declination. Starting from the small sundials, compass, Jai Prakash Yantra (instrument), Nadivalaya (Northern and Southern hemispheres), Yantra Raj, Rashivalaya Yantra (Sun Signs instrument) and moving on to the Rama Yantra, Digmasa Yantra, Chakra Yantra, all of which record accurate time. This biggest sun dial in the world standing 44 meters tall is the highlight of this center. Here, it is best suggested to book a guide who will provide a detailed insight into the center. A great place of interest for historians, scientists, artists and mathematicians, Jantar Mantar is highly educating and awe-inspiring for people from all walks of life.
Jaigarh Fort was constructed more as a protective measure than as a palace, unlike the Amer fort that has extravagance written all over it. Built atop a hill, Jaigarh fort stretches for 12 kilometres (seven miles) and serves as an impenetrable fortress protecting both, the Amer Fort and Amer Village. Back in the day, it served as a cannon foundry. Though defense was its main purpose, the fort wins one over with its ornate palace complexes too. It further fascinates onlookers with its underground tanks that delineate the ingenious nature of the fort's foresighted architects. However, Jaivan, the wheel-enabled canon continues to be the most important feature of the Jaigarh Fort. With its 6.15 meter (20 feet)-long, ornately-carved barrel and a range of more than 32 kilometers (20 miles), this behemoth of a weapon is believed to be the largest of its kind in the world.
Nahargarh roughly means “Home of Lions”, and this fort is a part of the trio along with Amer Fort and Jaigarh Fort. Like the others, this one too has its share of myths and theories, for example, it is believed that the fort got its name from the fact that during its construction, a prince named Nahar Singh haunted the construction site. But other than that, Nahargarh has a history that ranges from the Rajput to the British era. Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II had ordered for the construction of the fort somewhere in 1734 A.D. and subsequently got it extended to accommodate rooms for each of the king’s several wives. The main palace; the Madhavendra Bhawan, flaunts some delicately designed frescoes and paintings on the walls for which vegetable dye was put to use. Today most of the fort is undergoing restoration work, but one can still come up here for a glimpse of the breathtaking views of the “Pink City” below.
Hawa Mahal or “Palace of Winds” as it is also called, has been a cornerstone of Jaipur's architecture for centuries. Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh’s brainchild, Hawa Mahal was built in 1799 to allow the protected womenfolk of the royal families to catch a glimpse of the bustling city life without having to defy the then-prevalent pardah system. The total of 953 “Jharokas” or screened windows made of sandstone make for a unique honeycomb-like facade of the Mahal. The unique pyramid-like structure was a later addition to the original City Palace Complex. Standing five stories tall, Hawa Mahal, like any other palace is complete with a courtyard or Jaleb Chowk, as it was called back then. An ornate remnant of the Rajput Architecture, Hawa Mahal narrates fascinating tales of the city's aristocratic past.
'Jaleb Chowk' is a common term used for any open ground that was earlier used for public gatherings when the reigning king wished to address his kingdom. An open space that served as an assembly ground for soldiers, Jalebi Chowk is the first stop in Amer Fort complex, if one entered from the Surajpol gate. Back in the day, this ground was surrounded by horse stables. Near the Jalebi Chowk is the Bali Sthal which was the sacrificial ground where human and animal slaughter was rampant under the pretext of religious offering. Today, this chowk is the concluding point of the elephant ride within Amer Fort. And horse stables that surrounded the chowk have been converted into souvenir shops.
At the foothills of the arid Aravallis, the city of Jaipur flourishes as an exhilarating mix of awe-inspiring sights, smells and sounds that one won't forget. Crowned by the collective blush of rose-pink ramparts and splendor-filled structures that amble along the city's sun-streaked streets, Jaipur sits at the very heart of royal magnificence. The vast expanse of the Amer Fort winds its way along the slopes of the Aravallis, timelessly soaked in sandstone-tinted grandeur, while other monuments like City Palace, Jantar Mantar, and the symmetrically surreal Hawa Mahal recall the city's royal past in Jaipur's enthralling center. Around these landmark structures, a maze of bazaars peddles colourful souvenirs, vibrant textiles and Rajasthani jewellery, obliviously mirroring the electric spirit that the city has come to be known for. Whether Jaipur is seen for its traditional, earthy garb, or for its extravagant splash of unbridled royalty, Rajasthan's 'Pink City' holds the undeniable ability to mesmerize.