The mere mention of the word ‘Rajasthan’ transports one to a land immensely rich in culture, history and art. Signifying the “abode of rajas”, the land is a citadel of romance and chivalry associated with the Rajput culture. Everything about Rajasthan fascinates — be it miles of golden stretches of sand or opulent palaces or the crowd in multi-hued costumes.
Displaying such an aura of Rajasthani splendour is Jaipur, the picturesque capital of Rajasthan. Situated in the east of the state, Jaipur is the only planned city of Rajasthan. Its uniqueness is the pink boundary which gives it its name “pink city” – a colour associated with hospitality in Rajput culture. Built by Maharaja Sawai Jaisingh; the city is meticulously planned in accordance with the principles of town planning laid down in Shilpa Shastra, a treatise on Hindu architecture.
The city experiences sultry summers but mild winters. The land comes alive with spectacular festivities and exuberant folk dances that are inseparable to Rajasthani culture. The most interesting festivals are Gangaur dedicated to Goddess Gauri and Teej, which is dedicated to Goddess Parvati. Especially associated with festivities are mesmerizing dance performances of Bhavai, which consists of veiled women dancers balancing up to seven or nine brass pitchers and Ghoomar, a community dance of the Rajputs, performed by the women of the house, using simple, swaying movements to convey the spirit of an auspicious occasion.
The city has illustrious places of sightseeing. Situated in the heart of the city, the City Palace exhibits a fine blend of Mughal and Rajput styles of architecture. It also houses an exquisite art gallery and a museum. Jantar Mantar, a stone observatory is another tourist hotspot displaying complex scientific instruments, which speak volumes of medieval Indian astronomy. Along the main street of the city is situated Hawa Mahal with semi-octagonal windows made of sandstone. Galtaji, an ancient pilgrimage centre dedicated to the Sun God echoes the religious sentiments of the people. And how can one forget the Ram Niwas Bagh, a beautifully laid out garden with a museum and a sports complex! The frescoes for which Rajasthan is well-known are visible in the Jain Temple.
The bazaars of Jaipur have a timeless appeal – the places where one can shop for exotic blue pottery, Rajasthani souvenirs, fabrics with tie-and dye embroidery, semi-precious stones and gems and embroidered footwear popularly known as ‘jutis’. The bazaars also treasure Kundan and Meenakari work, the two typical kinds of Rajasthani embroidery.
The scrumptious cuisine of Rajasthan awaits your visit, ranging from gatte ki subzi to Panchkoota, dal-baati and churma, a Rajasthani dessert. The best time to visit Jaipur is September to March. The city is well-connected by air and rail to all major cities. Un-metered taxis and buses are local modes of transport. The Tourism Ministry also runs RTDC buses, which conduct sightseeing tours for the convenience of tourists. The city offers a wide range of accommodation facilities ranging from deluxe hotels to economy hotels and supplementary accommodation.
A perfect paradise for tourists, Jaipur constitutes the “golden triangle” of tourism along with the cities of Delhi and Agra. Apart from imposing structures and beautifully laid out landscapes, the hospitable crowd in exotic attires makes your trip a memorable one. It is an experience that you will cherish for a lifetime!