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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 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, Sihel 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 section 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, Shiel 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.
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.
Situated in close proximity to the Man Sagar Lake, Gaitor is a the resting place of the royalty that once ruled Jaipur, but have now moved on to the afterlife. The Egyptian pharaohs built mammoth pyramids to preserve their mortal remains, which now stand as an eternal reminder of the powerful rulers that reigned there. Similarly, the Gaitor stands as cremation ground for all of Jaipur's royalty, barring Maharaja Sawai Ishwari Singh the Second. It holds numerous intricately carved marble cenotaphs, each unique in design, which narrates the story of the life of the king it belongs to.
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.
Certain sports are usually associated with Royalty, and hunting is one of them. Jal Mahal is one of the remnants of the bygone era, where animal and bird hunting was a royal sport. This five-story palace which was an architectural marvel of its time served as a hunting palace since the time it was built by Sawai Pratap Singh in 1799 AD. It got its name because of its location in the middle of the Mansagar Lake; Jal means water. Four of its floors are now submerged into the lake, with only the top-most story and the terrace visible to anyone standing on the edge of Mansagar. For decades, the Mansagar Lake has attracted various species of fauna and birds, thus making it a fitting spot to hunt that perfect game. Unfortunately today, Jal Mahal is closed for public visits, though one can still enjoy its beauty from afar, which is not a bad deal at all as the Mansagar Dam and Aravali Mountains in the backdrop make for some stunning views.
Foundations of the Amer Fort were laid by Raja Man Singh I in 1592, and expanded by successive generations of the Kachwahas over a span of 150 years. Flanked by the Aravali mountains and overlooked by Jaigarh Fort, this Rajput fortress reigns over the historic town of Amer with the Maota Lake sprawled at its feet. Inside, the fort is split into four individual areas, each with its own courtyard and palatial enclaves. Right from the Shilla Temple to the Sheesh Mahal, this fort is as monumental as it can get. Be it the paintings and glass work from Belgium, the vivid frescoes, or the traditional inlay and relief work that adorns the opulent palace, Amer Fort is a monumental jewel of historic art and architecture hewn from sandstone and marble; a fitting abode for the Rajput Kings and their household. The entire fort is equipped with ramps, which at one point of time were helpful in pushing around small buggies, used by the queens to get around as their heavy clothes and jewelry made it difficult to walk.
Sheesh Mahal is one of the main reasons contributing to the numerous tourists visiting Amer Fort everyday; and to call it beautiful would simply be an understatement. This winter palace in the fort complex got its name because the entire structure is decorated with mirrors (sheesha in Hindi). Lavish and stylish, this palace gives us a glimpse of Rajput grandeur from the bygone days. It is said that the main resting room is entirely covered with crystal clear mirrors imported all the way from Belgium. Today however, this section of the palace is closed for public viewing due to ongoing restoration work. Apart from the mirrors, Sheesh Mahal also flaunts single piece marble pillars with delicate work that reflects both Rajputana and Mughal designs, not only providing support, but also adding to the beauty of the place. It goes without saying, your visit to Jaipur is not complete till you have visited Sheesh Mahal.
For more than a thousand years, Amer has retained its rustic beauty. The original inhabitants of this village were a clan called the Meena Jaati until the Rajputs came along. Since then, Amer has been known as the land of the Rajput Kings. Flanked by the Aravali Mountains and later also guarded by the Jaigarh Fort, Amer is one of the very few impenetrable villages which remained untouched right from the Mughal to the British era, until finally India was deemed a democratic country, and Amer came under the Rajasthan jurisdiction. The history of this nutshell of a village runs as far back as 927 A.D. and is replete with many theories and myths. One can visit a total of 365 temples, the most prominent being the Surya temple, Temple of Goddess Shilla and Jagat Shiromani, to name a few. Of course, who can forget the ever so beautiful Sheesh Mahal and the Amer Fort, within which the former lies. One can even the visit the ancient houses of the village, some as old as the village itself, and which are still inhabited by the descendants of the Bengali Brahmins. Although a village in itself, Amer is now a part of the Jaipur Muncipal Corporation, and being just 11 kilometers away from the main city center, it spells convenience to all tourists who would like to explore the secrets of this desert state.
Nestled away cozily in the north of Jaipur, lies the lush green Kanak Vrindavan Valley. It was christened by Sawai Jai Singh, who was the ruler and founder of Jaipur. This natural attraction is one of the most visited tourist spots in Jaipur owing to its gorgeous ancient stone temples and the picturesque scenery it offers. The valley is also a favorite spot for film shooting and picnickers, and is also a perfect spot to watch exotic migratory birds.