Jaipur is best known as the Pink City of India. The old city or the city centre or the heart of the present Jaipur city is all painted pink, accurately giving it the name of the Pink City. Though the Pink here has a twisted RGB value, taking it more towards the terracotta pink than and other common shades of pink that the colour actually means. Now, whichever shade of pink be it at the end, it is called pink and so the city as the pink city. Read along to know how the historic city of Jaipur became the Pink city.
My visit to this pink city happened when I was in a place near Jaipur due to some personal reason. The footloose in me was madly on the lookout for a travel break even in the ongoing pandemic situation. So I figured it out to add a couple of days to revisit the city of Jaipur where I have toured a decade ago. I wanted to see the old seen city again in a new way.
I can attribute this urge to one more fact, rather a blog on Jaipur that I am a dedicated reader of. The blog has every detail of Jaipur and it covers almost every destination within the city. I wanted to see them all just like I read in the blog post. Who better could have helped me in doing so than the blogger himself.
Arvind, my wonderful blogger friend who maintains the blog on Jaipur (https://jaipurthrumylens.com/) came to my help will all the suggestions to tour, to eat and to shop in this short period. Accordingly, I managed to space out things within the curriculum and have covered almost everything that I had planned for, even had local foods, shopped like crazy and totally enjoyed the complete tour.
Taking this opportunity I also kept a couple of days for the nearby destination of Ranthambore. (Read my previous post on the forest safari and the Ranthambore fort.) Now coming back to our post’s topic, the pink city. By now you all know that the pink city is called so because the city is literally pink in colour. But why is the city pink in colour? To get into the details of it I will take you to the past.
Dhundhar, the ancient region comprising of Jaipur and the adjoining areas of Dausa, Sawai Madhopur, Tonk and some parts of Karauli was originally ruled by the aboriginal tribes named Meena who claimed to be the descendants of the people of Matsya kingdom. The Kachhwaha Rajput clan defeated the Meenas and started ruling Dhundhar. They established their kingdom here in the 11th century with Amber being its capital.
Among the notable rulers of the Kachhwaha dynasty was Raja Bharmal, who accepted the sovereignty of the Mughals while there was a difficult time in his reign. He agreed to the matrimonial alliance of his daughter who was later known as Mariam-uz-Zamani (commonly known as Jodha Bai) to Akbar. The Kachhwahas became the relative of the Mughals and the era of a new alliance of the Mughal and the Rajputs began.
Raja Man Singh was another notable name of the Kachhwaha dynasty, he was the nephew of Mariam-uz-Zamani – a high ranking and one of the dearest commander of the Mughals under Akbar. He fought the famous battle of Haldighati against Maharana Pratap. Among the other significant descendants of the dynasty was Jai Singh II. He became the ruler of Amber at the age of 11. Just like his predecessor, his kingdom was a suzerain state under the Mughals under Aurangzeb. He was bestowed by the title of Sawai (meaning more capable than one or one and a quarter) by the Mughal emperor.
After a decade from the death of Aurangzeb, Jai Singh II broke free from the Mughal dominance and tried to increase his kingdom subsequently moving his capital from Amber to Jaipur in 1727. This move was taken to accommodate the increasing population of his subjects and to meet the water scarcity that was faced in Amber.
He was the founder of Jaipur city. Jai Singh II was knowledgeable in astronomy, mathematics and architecture and thus commissioned Jaipur to be built as one among the ancient planned cities under the architectural planning of Vidyadhar Bhattacharya based on Vastu Shastra and Shilpa Shastra.
Later during the reign of Sawai Ram Singh II, the capital city of Jaipur got its signature terracotta pink colour. To welcome Prince Albert Edward on his tour to India in the year 1876, he ordered every building within the walled city to be painted in the same shade of the colour pink which was considered to be the colour of hospitality. Since then the buildings have never changed their colour scheme. So this was the history of Pink city, now let’s take a tour of the city.
I had my list of places to visit and accordingly kept on moving from one place to another. In this post, I will mostly cover the area in and around the walled pink city while I would share the other places (mostly the forts) in separate posts. We thought of beginning our trip in the morning with a full belly and what can be the best time than the morning to have some Jaipur special Kachoris (though any time is the best time for Kachori). So we went straight to the famous Rawat misthan bhandar.
There were delved into all sorts of Kachoris available, forgetting out fear and anticipation of the Covid situation and the precautions we were taking. The delivery counter was pretty crowded and we too joined the crowd to get our items packed – Dal Kachori, Peyaj Kachori, Mawa Kachori, Jalebi and Ghewar with the topping of the juicy Mawa. I had no plan for Ghewar but the stack of Ghewars near the Kachori counter reminded me of my friend Arvind’s post on Ghewar and immediately I made my mind to get one packed.
Seeing the crowd we decided to have the food in our vehicle rather than getting into one of the closely placed tables. All the kachoris were delicious but I personally loved the Dal Kachori. We were so full that we had to save the Ghewar for some other time. Now it was time to explore the Pink City. What can be the best way to do it rather than walking. Having our vehicle parked somewhere were decided to walk and see, but we had little time so we could not cover it all by walking.
We first came to the Jantar Mantar, which is home to the collection of 19 astronomical instruments which were built based on the Ptolemaic positional astronomy, by Sawai Jai Singh II. It holds the world’s largest sundial and is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage site. The various instruments in this observatory were used to measure time, estimating the eclipses, observing the position of stars and planets and calculating many other astronomical events.
The City Palace stands opposite the Jantar Mantar. The City Palace was the administrative as well as the residential seat of the royals after moving their capital from Amber to Jaipur. It is still the official residence of the present members of the royal family. The large compound of the city palace has many complexes built within dedicated for various purpose. The parts that are popular among the public are the City palace museum, Govind Devji temple, Diwan-e-Aam, Diwan-e-Khas, Chandra Mahal, Mubarak Mahal and the Clock Tower.
The maintenance and the functioning of the City Palace and its corresponding museum and workshops within are maintained by the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Trust headed by Rajmata Padmini Devi and her daughter Princes Diyaa Kumari. The trust was founded by Sawai Bhawani Singh, the last Maharaja (the father of Princes Diyaa Kumari) of the Dynasty.
Then we walked through the ancient roads lined by shops for markets dedicated to various items (yes, they all were in their traditional terracotta pink.) We were heading towards Hawa Mahal. I made it a point to enter the monument this time as I remember that last time we visited Jaipur, it was closed for renovation work and I was really very sad about that. We had our composite ticket for entry to Amber Palace, Jantar Mantar, Hawa Mahal, Nahargarh Fort, Albert Hall, Isarlat, Sisodia Rani garden, and Vidhyadhar garden and was valid for two consecutive days.
The Hawa Mahal that we all are well accustomed to seeing is actually the backside of the monument. We had to cross the Badi Chaupar and then enter the monument through its actual entrance at the front, known as ‘Anandpoli’. This five-storeyed palace has two large courts. The entrance to the second courtyard is known as Chandrapoli.
Each floor of this structure is known by different names; the first floor is known as Sharad Mandir as the Autumnal celebrations of the royals were held here; the second floor was known as Ratan Mandir for its brilliant coloured glasswork on the walls; the third floor is known as Vichitra Mandir as the Maharaja used to worship Lord Krishna here; the fourth floor known as Prakash Mandir for its open courtyard on either side; and the fifth floor as Hawa Mandir after which the palace is named.
The magnificent structure was built by Sawai Pratap Singh for the royal women to see the festivities and the daily life in the streets below without being seen by the public maintaining the ‘Purdah’ system prevalent among the ladies of the period. Hawa Mahal is connected to the City Palace through a secret passage. The royal ladies used this path to reach Hawa Mahal to watch the festivities of Teej, Gangaur or other processions that used to pass from the main road.
Sawai Pratap Singh was inspired by the architectural design of the Khetri Mahal also known as the Wind palace in Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan. Hawa Mahal or the Palace of the Winds was designed by Lal Chand Ustad and is a five-storeyed structure with 953 tiny windows within intricate latticework to allow the flow of air. These tiny windows aided the inflow of cool air and helped in the circulation through the palace chambers thus maintaining it pleasant even in the through summer months of the city.
We did enough of walking (though not much in actuality) and it was again time to refuel our stomach so we searched for the restaurants nearby from our friend Google. We were not interested in the menu offered by the Wind View Cafe located just opposite the backside of the Hawa Mahal. So as directed by our friend Google we walked past Tripolia again through the line of shops to reach the Isarlat Swargasuli Tower.
Just opposite the tower, our friend guided us and through some narrow busy wholesale market with the loaders in full activity. We entered the elevator to reach the second floor and to our dismay, the restaurant was permanently closed. Yet we had an amazing view of the Isarlat Swargasuli Tower. What else could we do now? So just clicked a few pictures and returned back. This time we boarded the e-rickshaw and asked the driver to take us to some restaurant near Johri Bazar.
We had our food and then delved into the notoriously known feminine hobby of shopping. As guided by my friend Arvind, we entered a famous store specialised in Sarees, dupattas and other ladies garments. I had only one thing in mind ‘Bandheej’ and I purchased a lot of them in different items and then headed for some jewellery boxes and other souvenirs from the surrounding stores. Then again on the e-rickshaw to Choti Chaupar to get some quilts and blankets.
With all the shopping done from within the pink city, we stepped out of the pink city to reach Jal Mahal. This is yet another elegant structure built within the Man Sagar Lake by Sawai Pratap Singh in 1779. This is a five-storeyed structure with four floors remaining submerged within the water. The palace is built in red sandstone following the mixed architectural style of the Rajputs and the Mughals. Being the evening time we had a good opportunity for bird watching too. We could also see the murmuration of Rosy starlings here.
What can be a better way to end our day’s trip than to see the marvellous Albert Hall in its night lighting glory? Albert Hall was initially conceptualised to be the town hall by Sawai Ram Singh, later Sawai Madho Singh II converted it into a museum and is the oldest museum of the state. It was named after the Prince of Wales – Albert Edward. The foundation stone of the structure was laid during his visit to the city in 1876.
So again coming back to the year from where my story began. The year when Jaipur was painted pink to welcome the Prince of Wales who later became King Edward VII the then King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and Emperor of India. It was a wonderful day spent in the pink city making new memories and re cherishing the older ones.