In focus for today’s #WanderfulWednesday post focusing on our travel tales is the city of Jaipur in India.
We were recently in this city for two days. One entire day was spent at the Jaipur Literature Festival for which I had the delegate pass (single day).
Since we had one entire day free, it was the perfect opportunity to explore this city, which is fondly also called The Pink City. We started the day with the most popular (and a global) attraction, Amer Fort. At first we thought of having a look-see on our own. However on reaching the spot, it seemed wise to hire a guide as otherwise we’d end up knowing nothing about such a culturally and historically rich place.
With the help of this local, we were able to cover the entire palace in an hour. Because of the beautiful architecture and amazing views of the surrounding lake and village, this place is a must visit, irrespective of whether you’re a lover of history or not. The summer palace and winter palace (located within the palace area) blew my mind with the kind of ingeniousness put into how to survive different seasons even without air conditioners and heaters back in those days.
The Sheesh Mahal (Mirror Palace) is a total eye-candy and our guide was something of an expert at photography as he clicked some amazing photos of our reflections in one of the mirrors!! In 2013, the Amer Fort was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and after visiting it, one can surely understand why!
Post this, we visited the Jal Mahal (Water Palace) which is inaccessible to the public and is maintained by the government. However, even from afar its beauty attracts many people and the spot is quite crowded at any given time during the day. Besides the palace, what I liked were the flock of birds, including swans, that were aplenty, just sitting on the lake water or flying around. It was this that definitely added more to the charm of the palace. (interesting fact: the palace was built because of this very reason! Apparently the king who got this palace built wanted a place from where he could gaze at these birds freely)
Our next visit was to the Jantar Mantar observatory which is a collection of nineteen architectural astronomical instruments that were used to calculate time way before digital clocks came around.
This was done by the position of the sun during the day and via the position of various stars during the night. Looking at these instruments made me realize just how intelligent we Indians were and are! But, it was here that I felt the lack of a local guide as we would definitely have understood the workings of each instrument better if someone had been there to explain it to us.
Our last stop for the day was the very famous Hawa Mahal (Wind Palace). The structure is made with the red and pink sandstone and its exterior appearance is akin to the honeycomb of a beehive. It is named so because of the 953 small windows called Jharokhas (decorated with intricate latticework) that allows cool air from the Venturi effect to pass through, thus making the whole area more pleasant during the high temperatures in summer. However, this wasn’t the original intent of these windows. Actually, these were designed to allow the royal ladies within the palace to observe everyday life and festivals celebrated in the street below without being seen. As they had to obey the strict rules of “purdah”, which forbade them from appearing in public without face coverings this was a way for them to enjoy life outside the palace without having to step outside. Quite creative and intelligent, right? Another interesting bit about the palace is that most people see the Hawa Mahal from the street view and think it is the front of the palace, but in reality it is the back of that structure. However, since we were advised by many locals that the inside wasn’t as pretty as the outside, and also because we were extremely exhausted by then , we skipped seeing this attraction from inside.
All in all, we had a great day of exploration and of admiration about our ancestors and their architectural, creative and scientific skills. If in Jaipur, do visit all of these as they’re what make the city what it is, which is the cultural hub of our nation.
Pro-tip: Do hire a local guide to understand the places you visit in a better way, especially Amer Fort and Jantar Mantart(at some 200-300 INR, the costing is inexpensive and definitely more than worth the price) Also, we spent quite a few hours in local shopping (which is a must!!) and ended up having to cancel off a few places from our itinerary for the day, so we’d suggest dedicating a separate day for shopping.