By Rubina Aman
Named after its founder, Jai Singh II, Jaipur’s most distinctive landmark, the Hawa Mahal, is a five storied honeycombed hive, made of red and pink sandstone is mind-blowing! With more than 900 windows, through which the women could view the proceedings of the main street in ancient times, takes us to the primitive era.
With gorgeous collection of artifacts like paintings, stone and metal sculptures, handicrafts, arms, weapons and even an Egyptian mummy, the renowned Albert Hall is the oldest museum in the country. The Jantar Mantar is an observatory with a collection of 19 astronomical instruments, including the largest stone sundial in the world.
Comprising of lavish architectural wonders, each of the forts are unique in its own way. Amazing ‘Jal Mahal,’ a five storied palace, stands in the middle of the Man Sagar lake, out of which four stories remain submerged in water.
The City Palace, claimed to be the administrative seat of the last Maharaja, continues to be the home for royal family, while a part of it has been converted to a museum, open for public viewing.
The Amer Fort is a structural masterpiece, famous for its extensivecourtyards, huge entrances, swarming murals on the walls and intricate stained glass mirrors with lattice windows.The “sheesh mahal”deserves a special mention, a hall made completely of intricate mirrorwork, giving the appearance of twinkling stars at night.
Connected through a secret underground tunnel to Amer Fort is the Jaigarh fort, situated on the ‘Cheelka Teela’ (Hill of Eagles) on the Aravalli range. It is built to protect the Amer Palace and is the house to the world’s biggest wheeled cannon ‘Jaivaan,’ weighing around 50 tonnes. It is said that the cannon has been fired only once as a ‘test,’ landed 22 kilometers away and now a pond, called ‘Chakshu.’
On the foothills of the Amer Fort, much less known as another architectural marvel, the Jagat Shiromani temple. The toran at the entrance is made of a single piece of marble (with idol engravings), flanked by two elephant statues on either side. According to legend, the statue of Lord Krishna here is the same one which Meerabai used to worship in Mewar, 600 years ago. Popularly called as the Meerabai temple, you will also find her statue along with Lord Krishna and Lord Vishnu.
Embellished with delicate carvings and stonework, literally meaning ‘the abode of tigers,’ the Nahargarh Fort is an impregnable structure, famous as the residence of the nine wives of the erstwhile king.
Jaipur is also a treasure trove of cultural heritage and delectable cuisines. One can head to Tripolia Bazzar for the famous ‘lac jewelry,’ or Chandpole bazaar for handicrafts, Nehru Bazaar for ‘mojris’ or ‘jootis,’ Sireh Deori bazaar for the best camel leather accessories, Bapu bazaar for colourful Rajasthani garments, MI Road for pottery, brass and wood souvenirs.
Any itinerary is incomplete without the mention of the local cuisines and Jaipur is no exception. The absolute must-haves include “Daal-baati-churma,” the famous pyaz, dal or mawakachoris, the mirchivada and gattekisabzi.
Last but not the least, Chowki Dhani is a place that can give the experience of the best of history, culture and cuisine of Rajasthan under one roof. Enjoy the puppet and magic shows, the fire-stunts, the stories of the battle of haldighati and the jauhar ceremony, the traditional folkdance and experience the world famous hospitality at the ‘Chaupal’ for an immersive dining experience!