In ancient times Jaipur region came under the Matsya Kingdom. Modern Jaipur was founded in 1727 by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II who ruled from 1699–1744 and initially his capital was Amber, which lies at a distance of 11 km from Jaipur. He felt the need of shifting his capital city with the increase in population and growing scarcity of water. The King consulted several books on architecture and architects before making the layout of Jaipur. Finally under the architectural guidance of Vidyadhar Bhattacharya, (initially an accounts-clerk in the Amber treasury and later promoted to the ofﬁce of Chief Architect by the King) Jaipur came into existence on the classical basis of principles of Vastu Shastra and similar classical treatise.
After waging several battles with the Marathas, Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II was keen on the security aspect of the city. Being a lover of astronomy, mathematics and astrophysics, Jai Singh sought advice from Vidyadhar Bhattacharya, a Brahmin scholar of Bengal, to aid him to design many other buildings including the Royal Palace in the center of the city.
The construction of the city started in 1727. It took around 4 years to complete the major palaces, roads and square. The city was built following the principles of Shilpa Shastra, the science of Indian Architecture. The city was divided into nine blocks, of which two consist the state buildings and palaces, with the remaining seven allotted to the public. Huge fortiﬁcation walls were built along with seven strong gates.
For the time, architecture of the town was very advanced and certainly the best in Indian subcontinent. In 1876, when the Prince of Wales visited Jaipur, the whole city was painted pink to welcome him during the regime of Sawai Ram Singh. Today, avenues remain painted in pink, provide a distinctive appearance to the city. In the 19th century the city grew rapidly; by 1900 it had a population of 160,000. The city's wide boulevards were paved and lit
The city had several hospitals. Its chief industries were of metals and marble, fostered by a school of art (named as 'Madarsa Hunree') founded in 1868. The city also had three colleges, including a Sanskrit college (1865) and a girls' school (1867) initiated under the reign of the enigmatic Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II. There was also a wealthy and enterprising community of native bankers, particularly the Jain, Marwaris and the administrators Rawana rajput. Maharaja Sawai Bhawani Singh, the member of the erstwhile maharaja family of Jaipur, died on April 17, 2011 at a private hospital in Gurgaon following multi-organ failure.
It was designed by Sir Swinton Jacob, a British architect who designed many palaces in Rajasthan. Combining the elements of English and north Indian architecture – it was known as the pride of the New Jaipur when it opened in 1887 AD. it is a very well maintained and impressive building displaying a rich collection of artifacts like paintings, carpets, ivory, stone, metal sculptures, colorful crystal works etc.
The Amber Fort set in picturesque and rugged hills is a fascinating blend of Hindu and Mughal architecture. Constructed by Raja Man Singh I in 1592 and completed by Mirja Raja Jai Singh, the fort was made in red sand stone and white marble. Amber is the classic and romantic fort-palace with a magnificent aura. The interior wall of the palace depicts expressive painting scenes with carvings, precious stones and mirror settings. Built mainly for the warring enemies as a safe place, the heavily structured walls could defend the residents within the ramparts of the fort.
The Lakshmi - Narayan Temple known as Birla Mandir is situated just below the Moti Dungari. This is a modern temple built of white marble on top of a hill, dominating the skyline of south Jaipur. The Birlas (industrialists who have also built several temples in India) built this temple. The temple has been constructed in white marble. The presiding deities here are Vishnu (One of the Hindu Trinity Gods) called Narayan and his consort Lakshmi, Goddess of wealth and good fortune.
The name Chandra Mahal means Moon Palace. Chandra Mahal, Jaipur, is the official residence of the Royal Family of Jaipur. Each storey of the Chandra Mahal has a distinctive name and is a place of great opulence. The ground and first floor is part of the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum.
Located in the heart of the walled city, the City Palace Complex gives you an idea about the farsightedness of the founder of Jaipur Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh. He left behind a legacy of some of the most imposing and magnificent architecture in the city. Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh built many buildings but some of the structures were also built by later rulers. The palace is a blend of Mughal and Rajput architecture and the ex-royal family still lives in a part of the palace.
It is an ancient Hindu pilgrimage site consists of several temples and sacred kunds (water tanks) in which pilgrims bathe. It is believed that Saint Galav spent his life at Galtaji, practiced meditation, and did penance. Galtaji has been a retreat for Hindu ascetics since the early 1500s; its present temple was built by Diwan Rao Kriparam, a courtier of Sawai Jai Singh II, in the 18th Century. The main temple is the Temple of Galtaji, built in pink stone. The temple features a number of pavilions with rounded roofs, carved pillars, and painted walls.
Govind (Krishna) Temple
A vital part of the City Palace complex, this Krishna temple has been highly revered by the erstwhile royal family. Sawai Jai Singh installed the image of Govind Devji (an incarnation of lord Krishna) after it was brought from Vrindavan. The image is unveiled seven times daily for 'Aarties' and Bhogs are consisting mostly of sweets offered in silver ware. The idols of Radha-Krishna are dressed in different styles each time for the 'Aarti' procession where thousands of devotees or 'Bhakts' gather around the courtyard for Darshan.
Hawa Mahal Palace
The poet king Sawai Pratap Singh built this palace of winds. This is easily the most well-known landmarks of Jaipur and is also its icon. This five-storey building overlooking the busy bazaar street is a fascinating example of Rajput architecture and artistry with its delicately honeycombed 953 pink sandstone windows known as 'jharokhas'. It was originally built for the ladies of the royal household to watch everyday life and processions in the city from their veiled comfort.
It is the most spectacular of the three-hilltop forts that overlook Jaipur. In Mughal times, the Jaipur region was a major weapon-producing centre for the Mughal and Rajput rulers, several of the weapons being on display in the fort's museum. It is one of the few military structures of medieval India preserved almost intact, containing palaces, a granary, a well-planned cannon foundry, several temples, a tall tower and giant mounted cannon-the Jai Ban (Jaivan) which is the largest cannon on wheels in the world. Jaigarh Fort is also known as the fort of victory.
Jal Mahal Palace
Jal Mahal (meaning "Water Palace") is a palace located in the middle of the Man Sagar Lake in Jaipur city, the capital of the state of Rajasthan. The palace and the lake around it were renovated and enlarged in the 18th century by Maharaja Jai Singh II of Amber. It is noted for its intricate beauty and architecture. It is a five-story palace, with the first four floors being submerged under water. The Nahargarh Fort situated nearby offers a splendid view of the lake as well as the palace.
The Jantar Mantar is a collection of architectural astronomical instruments, built by Maharaja (King) Jai Singh II between 1727 and 1734. It is modeled after the one that he had built for him at Delhi. He had constructed a total of five such facilities at different locations, including the ones at Delhi and Jaipur. The Jaipur observatory is the largest and best preserved of these. It has been inscribed on the World Heritage List as "an expression of the astronomical skills and cosmological concepts of the court of a scholarly prince at the end of the Mughal period".
The Kanak Vrindavan is not very old but definitely an exquisitely land scaped garden with a beautifully carved temple in beige stone. It is a vast complex with terrace sites all around and intricately carved marble columns and lattices. Located in the foothills of Nahargarh hills on the way towards Amber, this complex is a popular spot for picnic and film shoots. It should be definitely visited on the way to the forts of Jaipur - Nahargarh, Jaigarh and Amber. The greenery after the monsoons transforms this whole place virtually into a paradise with Jal Mahal in the back ground.
It is the first of the three forts built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh of Jaipur. The Fort stands at the top of rugged point of the Aravalis and offers a spectacular view of the City. Keeping this fact in mind, the fort was made to serve as a means of supporting the security of Amer. The term "Nahargarh" refers to "the Abode of Tigers", so it is also known as the Tiger Fort. The Fort was constructed mainly in 1734, however further additions were made to it, by the succeeding rulers in the 19th century.
Sheesh Mahal is a famous hall of mirrors situated inside the Amber Palace. An integral part of the Jai Mandir, it has been uniquely constructed by decorating the ceilings and walls of the hall with mirrors, which reflect light rays. This reflection in turn lights up the entire hall inside the Jai Mandir.
The Sheesh Mahal was constructed by Raja Jai Singh in 1623, which he used for meeting his special guests. This hall is specially designed with the glass imported from Belgium. The mirrors on the walls and ceilings have been carved with beautiful designs that reflect even a small ray of light for providing natural light to the entire hall.
Statue Circle forms a major landmark of Jaipur. It is situated on a busy crossing of the city. Statue Circle has got its name from the statue, which it portrays. Statue Circle comprises the statue of King Sawai Jai Singh, the founder of Jaipur. In the statue, Raja Jai Singh is holding an astrological diagram which shows his love for astrology. The memorial is actually made in the loving memory of the generous ruler, builder and futurist.
Shopping in Jaipur is in itself an art. The city of Jaipur has abundant markets most of which offer excellent pieces of arts and crafts. The arts and crafts of Jaipur city are really beautiful and are famous for their delicate traditional touches. Precious stones rule in the city side. A large number of shops sell various precious and semi precious stones. These stones sometimes travel beyond the national frontiers. Jewellery, gems, semi precious stones, Kundan and Minakri work are chief articles which are very characteristic of the city.