Jaipur at present is the capital of Rajasthan and remember Rajasthan is the biggest state in India. From time immemorial, Rajasthan, especially the Thar Desert has a remarkable effect on Indian scenario. Jaipur was founded by Sawai Raja Jai Singh II in 1727, which later established itself in capital of Rajput dynasty. The city holds a mystery and eves curiosity about itself. There are many attractions for the tourists coming to Jaipur. The major places to visit are Nahargarh Fort, Jai Singh Fort, Amber Fort, City Palace, Hawamahal, Jal Mahal, Raj Mandir etc. It is not just the eyes that get its full meals, you can satisfy your palate also here. Jaipur also offers some really mouth-watering traditional delicacies like dal-bati, Churma, Gajak etc.
We, a group of friends thought of exploring all this and started our trip to Jaipur. Our journey started by boarding a train from New Delhi at 5:00 am and reached the Jaipur Railway station at 10 Am. The journey was OK as a journey in Indian Railways is a combination of fun and discomfort. As soon as we came out of the railway station, many of the local auto-Wallace approached us to take us on Jaipur tour, which covers all major attractions and drop at a railway station in the evening. The quote for this varied from 450 INR to 600 INR.
The sight seeing trip started from the city palace, which is situated in the center of the Jaipur city. This palace is divided into many parts. While one part is still used by present King for his residential purposes the other parts are open for tourists. Major attractions I found here were, diwan-i-khas, Sabhamahal, and Bhaggi khana. You can also have a look at two huge sterling silver vessels of 4000 liters capacity each. These are World’s largest sterling silver vessels and have found a place in the Guinness book of records.
As we were running short of time, so we decided to skip Nahargarh fort and went to Jaigarh Fort. Jaigarh Fort is situated on a hill in Aravali range of mountains. We found it one of the best attractions of Jaipur. Jaigarh fort was built by Jaisingh II and it is named after him. Our guide told us many interesting facts about this fort. The construction of this fort took 700 years and spanned the rule of 27 kings (Kakil dev – Jaisingh II). The fort got the name after Jaisingh II as he had the habit of adding his name to mark his contribution in the developments. Few examples are Jaipur, Jaigarh, Jaivaan etc.
Jaigarh Fort is also known for good engineering works. This fort is situated in a desert and had a constant shortage of water. To overcome this, the architects of this fort designed a quiet, efficient water harvesting and purifying system. This fort has 5 big underground tanks to store water in it. The biggest tank is of 6 million gallon capacity. Our guide also told us an interesting story behind these tanks that, Royal family have kept all the treasure from Mughal times in one of these tanks, which was taken out by Indira Gandhi (former Prime minister of India) in 1976 during an emergency and hidden in Swiss banks. Jaigarh fort also has India’s first cannon foundry and world’s biggest on wheel canon “Jaivaan” was also built here. The barrel of Jaivaan weighs 50 ton and along with wheels, the total weight would be 250 tons with a range of 35 Km. It needs 100 kg of gunpowder to fire once. In the armory section, we saw many cannons and rifles which are certainly worth a visit.
Jaigarh Fort is directly connected to Amer (Amber) Fort via a subterranean passage. Amber fort was used by royal families for residential purposes till the establishment of Jaipur city. This fort is divided into many parts. Sukh Mandir which was used by royal families in hot weather conditions as it had water running through many channels which kept the interiors cool even in 50-degree Celsius. The major attraction of Amer is its light and sound show, which I personally like to watch again. It is screened in Hindi and English both and it is about the kachwaha Rajputs dynasty. It is an amazing and spectacular combination of light and sounds effects.
As soon as we were done with light and sound show, we rushed to our last place, Raj Mandir cinema, which is only one of its kind in India beating most luxurious cinema halls in metro cities. It is located on the Bhagwan das road. In normal conditions, tickets range from as low as 80 INR to 500 INR. If I have to give stars for its interiors work I would have given it 7-star out of 5-star. The lights and art work on the walls are amazing.
Places to visit
Jaigarh Fort, Nahargarh Fort, Amer Fort, City Palace, Jal Mahal, Raj Mandir etc.
What to eat:
Dal-Batti, Kachori, Churma, Kulhad Lassi. Must pay a visit to Chokhi Dhani restaurant.
What to shop and where to shop:
Tourist can find many things to shop here from traditional jewelry to block printed fabrics. It is also famous for its lac work bangles and traditional ‘Jutis’ (a kind of footwear). Gore market for jewelry and sarees and lehengas. You can also find very fine ‘Multani Mitti’ sarees and 100 grams Pashmina quilts.
Things to keep in mind
If you are planning to visit Jaipur make sure to visit after mid-August and before March as summers are very hot in this part of the world. The public transportation system is not very good and private autos are costlier than Delhi (Which was also surprising for us). It is better to go there with your own vehicle or keep 700-800 INR reserved only for auto fares. If you are a shopaholic make sure to invest time for bargaining also. We found that the same items have a huge difference in prices from shop to shop.