The city of Jaipur, home to over 3 million people, boasts a great many historical attractions thanks to the 18th century warrior-astronomer Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, who founded the city and designed many of the buildings himself.
Here in the “Pink City of India,” a strong sense of history mingles with modern cuisine and culture to provide a rich experience that travelers won’t soon forget. Among the many things to see and do in Jaipur are the Old City, Galtaji Temple, Nahargarh Fort, the Jantar Mantar Observatory and the Hawa Mahal.
Jaipur’s Old City is one of many examples of Jai Singh’s architectural design genius. With traditional artisans’ quarters and several bazaars still in operation, the Old City is also home to the Juneja Art Gallery, where visitors can enjoy surreal, abstract and other forms of contemporary art.
The Galtaji Temple, built in the 18th century by a courtier of Jai Singh, is a Hindi pilgrimage site about 10 km (6 miles) east of Jaipur. A part of the temple complex is also known locally as the Monkey Temple because of a tribe of monkeys that live there. The monkeys are generally harmless and like to be fed.
Nahargarh Fort is an 18th-century fortress which has enjoyed renewed interest since 2006, when several scenes from the movie Rang De Basanti were filmed there. One interesting historical note is that during the Indian Mutiny of 1857, many foreigners were moved to Nahargarh Fort by the king of Jaipur for their protection. In the present day, visitors enjoy breathtaking views of the Pink City thanks to the fort’s position overlooking Jaipur.
Jantar Mantar Observatory:
Although the Jantar Mantar Observatory does not fit the modern description of an astronomical observatory, it was considered the state-of-the-art at the time of its construction and remains useful today in addition to being a popular tourist attraction. Without the benefit of powerful telescopes or other modern instruments, these 18th century monuments made it possible to measure time and predict eclipses. The observatory is even still in use today as a tool for predicting the weather for farmers. Jantar Mantar remains one of the best collections of architectural astronomical monuments in the world and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Hawa Mahal, also known as the Palace of the Winds, was considered one of Jai Singh’s masterpieces and remains one of Jaipur’s best-known attractions. The palace was built to allow the ladies of the royal household to observe what was happening in the city below without being observed themselves, and it owes its name to the construction which permitted breezes to pass through the walls.
With its many historical monuments interwoven with modern cultural attractions, Jaipur has something for everyone. No trip to India would be complete without visiting the Pink City.