Colorful sites, bustling sounds, exotic scents, appetizing flavors, and a population of 3.2 million people, Jaipur is sure to simultaneously enthrall all senses.
Due to an increase in population and the need for water and other resources to satisfy his growing city’s demands, a Rajput king named Maharajah Sawai Jai Singh II, moved his capital, Amer, 11 kilometers south in the early 18th century. This place is now known as Jaipur (literally translated as the city of Jai).
Located in the Northern part of India and southwest of the capital New Delhi, Jaipur is the capital and the largest city in the state of Rajasthan. The region is a strategic economic area on the trade route from China to Europe.
Being a formidable warrior, Jai Singh the II was not plagued with the trouble of constantly worrying about threats from adversaries. He had the luxury to embolden his interests in mathematics and science. With advice from a famed Brahmin scholar, Jaipur became the first planned city in India. In adherence to the principles of Vastu Shastra, the traditional Hindu system of architecture, four years later, infrastructure for water and other public utilities, roads, major palaces, markets, squares, fortification walls, and gates were built. Due to his fascination with the stars and heavenly bodies, Jai Singh also constructed multiple architectural instruments solely dedicated to astronomy. It became a city of skilled craftsmen. Most prominent are the jewelers and stonecutters (under the patronage of the Maharajah) who made Jaipur known, even to this day, as a hub for the gem and jewelry industry. At the time of the city’s completion, Jaipur displayed some of the best and, probably, most advanced infrastructures in India.
Since the region is rich in sandstone, most of the buildings in place already had a pinkish hue. But let’s get to the point.
Why is Jaipur known as a pink city?
Photo Credit: Dezalb / Pixabay
At the decline of the Mughal Empire, British imperialism continued on its rise and even further tightened its grip on the Indian subcontinent. Jaipur is no exception.
Maharajah Ram Singh II wanted to impress his British contemporaries. He embellished Jaipur with widespread improvement geared towards public welfare and education in order to reflect modernity. He wanted to prove that Jaipur was a city that possessed progressive qualities.
Since the color pink was traditionally held as a color of hospitality, Jaipur’s buildings were painted in varying colors of blush, salmon, and pale rose in the 19th century to welcome the visit of Prince Albert Edward (then Prince of Wales and eventually King Edward VII) on his tour of the Indian subcontinent. The neat and broadly laid out avenues painted in pink provided an additional magical charm to the city.
In order to maintain uniformity, a law was then passed in 1887 by the Maharajah to maintain the pink color for any new buildings constructed within the city. Rumor has it that Ram Singh II’s queen has a fascination for the color.
Listed below are some famous indubitably pink sites worth looking at:
Jaipur’s City Palace is a palace complex of courtyards, gardens, and buildings that until today serves as the royal residence. Jai Singh II initially built the palace at the establishment of Jaipur. It serves as an unyielding testament to the wealth and opulence of the city’s ruling family. Today, the palace holds a museum, an art gallery, and displays of royal costumes and traditional Indian weapons.
Built by the grandson of Jaipur’s progenitor, Hawa Mahal, also known as the Palace of the Winds, serves as an extension of the City Palace and leads to the royal women’s chambers. This unique five-story pyramidal palace made out of red and pink sandstone is famous for its façade of beautiful lattice windows and screened balconies. Overlooking the main street of Jaipur’s Old City, it is said that the palace was constructed so that women of the royal household, who then practiced the system of Purda (which is the seclusion of women from public observations), could get a glimpse of the daily events, festivals, and processions that take place on the streets.
Located at one of the peaks of the Arvalli range and constructed by Jai Singh II to protect the palace complex, Jaigrah Fort boasts the world’s largest cannon on wheels called the Jaivana. Flanked by towering gates and watchtowers, this seemingly impregnable fortress has never been captured nor has the Jaivana ever been fired. To this day, the fort remains as one of the best-preserved military structures of medieval India.
Albert Hall Museum
Initially built to honor the visit of Prince Albert and intended as a town hall, Albert Hall Museum, today, functions as the state museum of Rajasthan. The museum has a rich collection of cultural artifacts such as paintings, carpets, ivory, metal sculptures, and stone and crystal works.
Jantar Mantar Observatory
Jantar Mantar literally translates as calculating instrument. There are five Jantar Mantar monuments in India but Jaipur boasts the largest. There is a collection of 19 instruments in Jaipur including the world’s largest sundial and other mechanisms dedicated to measuring time, tracking stars, and predicting eclipses. These were built to allow the observation of astronomical positions with the naked eye. In Jantar Mantar, Jaipur’s advanced and progressive inclinations are reflected. The architectural innovation within the observatory represents the collaboration of ideas of people from differing religious and social beliefs.
Although 21st century industries such as manufacturing and information technology are booming, the people of Jaipur remain fiercely connected with their traditions and culture and are more than willing to engage with visitors and participate in cultural exchanges. The lively way of life is reflected in women opting to wear colorful attire and locally made jewelry.
Despite leaps towards modernity, this lively city retains its old charm. Remnants of unchanging lifestyles have merged with the contemporary world. Camels and rickshaws amidst a sea of automobiles, shopping malls co-existing with the traditional marketplace, high-end restaurants beside local food establishments, these are some of the things you may observe.
Jaipur offers a hearty balance of things old and new and, of course, a lot of pink.