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Jaipur, often referred to as the Pink City, due to its rose pink buildings is the gateway of Rajasthan, the land of Rajput warriors. In 1727, Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, left the fort of Amber and chose a vast plain amidst fertile alluvial and buff-coloured hills for his new capital. The result was one of India’s first planned cities with exuberant buildings like the City Palace, Hawa Mahal and Jantar Mantar, the royal observatory. A ride through the cacophonic markets offers tempting, untiring shopping opportunities like the entrancing Johari (jeweler) bazaar, vibrant textile shops with the finest block print fabric and artisanal handicrafts. At the end of a kaleidoscopic day, the luxuriant heritage properties like Rambagh Palace and five-star restaurants like Jal Mahal are the perfect oases to feel the calm of a desert evening.

Jaipur’s heart is the City Palace, an awe-inspiring synthesis of the shared Rajput, Mughal and European architectural culture. Ornate attention to detail is evident at the intricately designed entrance gates and in the halls of public and private audiences. With an array of stucco pink courtyards, gardens, temples and pavilions, the palace serves as a museum and home to the former ruling royal family. The Hawa Mahal, Palace of the Winds, is a flamboyant complex with miniature honeycomb pavilions of sandstone. Annexed to the City Palace, it was built for the zenana where the royal ladies could sit to cool themselves in the hot summers or watch the city processions through the lattice screen. These days they would probably be shopping in the bazaar, which is a fantastic place to acquire precious stones and ornate jewellery or simply observe the hudrums of local life and soak up the vibrant colors of India

Maharaja Jai Singh II, a warrior, mathematician and astronomer, once witnessed the courtiers of a Mughal Emperor tirelessly debating over the calculations of an auspicious date for the Emperor’s affairs. He decided to educate the kingdoms about astronomy and built several spectacular Jantar Mantars across India on the principles of the Vedic texts. The one in Jaipur, built in 1734 has the world’s largest sundial with instruments of masonry and brass designed. Its purpose was to measure the movements of the planets, sun and stars with the naked eye. 

Backing the city, some 17 kilometres to the north, is the ancient mountainous range of the Aravalli Hills. Here, on a former royal hunting ground, is the Amber Fort, capital of the Kuchwaha region for 700 years before the population moved to Jaipur which offered more space. Visitors should make time to marvel at the small silver-doored Siladevi Temple before entering the palace. This magnificent palace, made from an exquisite mix of pale pink and yellow sandstone and white marble, is an iconic landmark of Jaipur which glows golden as the sun dips into the placid waters of Lake Maota. 

>> Read our blog: Little Black Book: Discover the Pink City, Jaipur

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