I spent a majority of my life in Jaipur and never thought any city can be as good as my pink city. I have visited every tourist destination the city offers countless number of times. Now that we live in Kolkata, every time we go to Jaipur, the visit is limited to meeting all the relatives. To tell you the truth, the importance of anything can be valued when you can no longer can access it. The thought came over when my daughter had to write few words about her native place. For me visiting tourist places in Jaipur brings back lots of memories, each time with different stories associated with it. Though I helped my daughter in writing her essay in a very methodical way, I couldn’t stop myself from writing again.
City Palace: City palace is now a museum but the royal family still resides in a part of it. Built by Sawai Jai Singh in early 20th century, it incorporates an impressive and vast array of courtyards, gardens and buildings. The museum houses some of the elaborate costumes once adorned by the former Royal Family and also ancient manuscripts and artillery. All these amazing stuff put aside, the memory I strongly have is when the guide tells the story of the 7 feet, 250 kg maharaja who ate 5 kg of jalebi and drank 5 litres of milk for breakfast everyday. His silk pyjama is on display and stretches across almost an entire wall. As a group of teenagers, we would point to it and giggle.
Amer Fort: This magnificent fort was built by King Maan Sing in the 16th century. As it is located on a hill, riding up on elephant back is very popular. Amer palace is the main attraction for tourists in Jaipur. Inside the palace are beautiful styled state rooms with semi-precious jewel inlaid decorations. The finest example is the Sheesh Mahal, the mirror palace. The king wanted to sleep under the open skies. But perhaps it was too cold outside. This is desert territory after all. So he had a candle lit inside the room as he lay down on the royal bed, and looked up at the ceiling of mirrors. After telling this story, every single guide flicks a match stick, the light bounces off his reddish pan chewing teeth and suddenly we see stars in daylight too. OOos and Aaahs is what you take home with you with mesmerizing views.
Jaigarh: The fort of victory is again on top of a hill and was the defence post for the rulers. Based on rumours that they buried all their treasure inside the fort, Indira Gandhi at the time of emergency had excavations made all over, without success. Jaigarh is also home to Jai Baan- the victory cannon, which is the largest moving cannon in the world. It is said that the cannon was never used in war. One can feel like a prince/princess roaming around its mystical larger than life complex. It is almost a fantasy land for people interested in history. The fort is in ruins but along with being a historically rich heritage, it also offers a spectacular view of Jaipur city in the distance.
Hawa Mahal: Hawa Mahal, the palace of winds is a structure made entirely with windows. It was built only for the purpose of being a window to the world for the royal women of Jaipur who used to stand behind the numerous windows at Hawa Mahal. They say that the foundation of this huge building is just one foot deep but supports five storey. There is a bangle market just beside it. Our mom and aunts would tag us along for shopping, and frankly as a kid, I did not understand why so many tourists flock under a building which is on a super busy square and one could miss it easily if group of Japanese people were not pointing their cameras up on it.
Birla Temple: Birla Temple, originally known as Lakshmi Narayan Temple, is situated below the Moti Dungri Fort in Jaipur. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi, this temple is a proud architectural landmark of Jaipur. Built in pure white marble, the Birla Temple is unlike the traditional ancient Hindu temples, and is built with a modern approach. I have been to Birla temple countless number of times, but the most interesting visit was with my friends watching the shooting of famous song “bholi bhali ladki” of Akshay Kumar and Mamta Kulkarni.. Yes, you can judge me now.
Apart from all these famous sights, camels, forts, colours, elephants, food and much more, Jantar Mantar, Ram Niwas Bagh, Jal Mahal, Kanak Vrindavan, Galta are also some of the places I would specially mention where one could go again and again. Shopping at Bapu bazaar, Johri bazar etc. is a must. Semi precious and precious stone jewellery is Jaipur’s proud domain. And being in Jaipur, how can you not eat at LMB. Have you ever tried pyaaz ki kachori. Yumm.