Exotic. Fascinating. Historic, amazing, colourful- all are soubriquets applied with (more often than not) gay abandon to the many Indian cities that form part of the average traveller's itinerary. But one city, at least, where these appellations are singularly appropriate is the `Pink City' of Jaipur. A strikingly beautiful city, historic and interesting, dominated by the imposing 16th century Amer Fort, a brooding bastion of pavilions and palaces, looking down over Jaipur.
Amer (or Amber) was once the capital of the Kachhwaha rulers of the state of Dundhar, all of seven hundred years before the city of Jaipur came into existence.
The Amer Fort itself owes its construction to three rulers: Raja Man Singh, Mirza Raja Jai Singh and Sawai Jai Singh- and took a full two centuries to build, much of it having been made in the 1500s. Looking at the splendour of the fortress, one can well imagine why it took so long to complete: it is, to put it simply, exquisite. The citadel rises above the waters of the Maotha Lake, and although a motorable road leads to the main gate of Amer, the touristier alternative is to ride an elephant up to the gate. Once inside, you'll get the chance to see one of India's best-preserved medieval citadels, a stunning complex of gardens, temples, pavilions and courtyards. The Amer Fort is, in roughly equal proportions, a pleasure-palace, a former centre of administration and a military stronghold- all worth seeing.
The fort's first courtyard is a wide expanse, dominated by two buildings - the pillared red sandstone Diwan-e-Aam (the Hall of Public Audience) and the intricately painted double-storeyed Ganesh Pol gate. Beyond these lies a series of pillared corridors, centring around a typical Mughal `charbagh' garden, bounded on one side by Sukh Niwas and on the other by Jas Mandir, a lovely piece of architecture which combines Rajput and Mughal features: delicate mirror work, stucco, paint and carving (look out, especially, for the exquisitely carved jaalis or screens). The Amer Fort's pièce de resistance, though, is the exquisite Sheesh Mahal- the Mirror Palace- which is, as you'd imagine, liberally mirrored. Patterned mosaics, coloured glass and mirror decorate the Sheesh Mahal from floor to ceiling, creating a palace of almost unbelievable beauty.
Fountains and waterways, gardens and courtyards spread out across the rest of the fort, the ramparts of which actually weave their way into the mountains for miles around.
Prime Attractions of Jaipur
The Jal Mahal Palace, Jaipur is noted for its intricate architecture. The Palace was developed as a pleasure spot. It was used for the royal duck shooting parties.
At the entrance to the City Palace is Jantar Mantar, the 'Yantralaya' of Sawai Jai Singh II, the last great classical astronomer in India. The modernistic structures known as 'Yantras' are the unique creations of this astronomer-king designed by him and built by experts to observe the movements of sun, moon, planets and the stars.
Govt. Central Museum
Located in the centre of the sprawling Ram Niwas Bagh, this is the oldest Museum in the State. The building was designed by Colonel Sir Swinton Jacob. It was built in 1876 AD when King Edward VII visited India as the Prince of Wales. It was opened to public in 1886 AD.
Beyond the hills of Jaigarh, stands the fort of Nahargarh like a watchful sentinel guarding Sawai Jai Singh's beautiful capital.
Sawai Man Singh Museum
Located within the City Palace complex and nestled amidst old buildings, temples and the palace quarters, this museum was founded in 1959 by Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II. The exhibits comprise of the ancestral collections built up by the successive rulers of Amer and Jaipur.