365 Places: Jaipur

Day 82: Jaipur, India

Earlier this week we watched a wonderful film about a bunch of English retirees who move to this wonderful, falling down, chaotic palace in Jaipur. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a wonderful tale, full of great characters, a lovely story and a stunning setting. It also featured some of my favourite actors including Judi Dench and Bill Nighy.

The shining star of this movie had to be this wonderful city in India, which was presented as a complex place, where old traditions and new technologies collide, against the background of a city full of colour, noise and activity..

Jaipur is known as the ‘Pink City’, which is a reference to its distinctly coloured buildings, originally painted this colour to imitate the red sandstone architecture of Mughal cities. Wiki travel says:

The present earthy red color originates from repainting of the buildings undertaken for a visit by the Prince of Wales in 1876.

In this part of the world, pink is traditionally a colour associated with hospitality. The tradition of painting buildings pink has been maintained ever since the visit of the Prince of Wales, when Maharaja Ram Singh made the request. Interestingly, today all residents in the old city are compelled by law to keep the pink colour. Maharaja Ram Singh also built the Ramgarh Lake to supply water to the burgeoning city.

The city gets its name from its founder Maharaja Jai Singh II (1693-1744), who was known as a  great warrior and astronomer. He came to power at the age of 11 after the death of his father Maharaja Bishan Singh.

There is a fascinating history in the region of Rajastan of feudal alliances and rival families. Jai Singh’s lineage can be traced back to the Kucchwaha Rajput, clan who came to power in the 12th century. They were long-term rivals to the Sisodia Rajputs who ruled from Mewar. This rivalry led them to ally with the Mughals, and this alliance resulted in them eventually gaining a pre-eminent position in Rajasthan.

Jaipur was also India’s first planned city and the largest city in Rajasthan. It was also a city that gradually came under control of the British after the war of independence in 1857. Wiki Travel says:

After Jai Singh’s death in 1744, his sons squabbled for power and without a monarch, the kingdom became open to invasion and neighboring Rajput states and the Marathas usurped large areas of kingdom. The core, however, remained part of the kingdom, which lasted during British times. As with the Mughals, Jaipur maintained good relations with the British and during the war of independence in 1857 remained loyal to the Raj. Yet, the British gradually began to undermine the independence of the state and exercised greater control over the administration.

Aside from this rich history, I understand the Jaipur is rich in markets, monuments and temples- all things I love to explore when I am travelling. Jaipur is also known as the gems and jewelry capital of the world,  and it is famous for its many jewel merchants, which is something else I would love to see.

Rajasthan's Legislative Assembly situated at Jaipur during festival season. Image Credit: http://wikitravel.org/en/Jaipur

Rajasthan’s Legislative Assembly situated at Jaipur during festival season. Image Credit: http://wikitravel.org/en/Jaipur

We are planning a trip to India and Jaipur is one of our planned destinations. I can’t wait to see this wonderful city and all that it offers. I hope too that we might find the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – just for fun.