Jaipur is the capital of the Rajasthan region and named the Pink City. The nickname was given because the original buildings were constructed using pink sandstone. With a population of 3.1 million, it is a busy metropolis with amazing historic sights spread throughout the city. After the relaxation in Udaipur I was ready to dive into some history and sightseeing!
Our first night we went to a Bollywood film at the famous Raj Mandir theater, considered one of the finest Bollywood theaters in all of Asia. It was quite the experience! Inside the theater reminded me of something out of the 1930’s with chandeliers, a balcony in the lobby and elaborate floral details throughout. We purchased our two dollar ticket, two dollar popcorn and one dollar soda, we were ready! During the film there were constant roars and clapping from the crowd. Although the movie was in Hindi with no subtitles we were able to follow the story line and enjoyed the show.
For our second day we figured there is no better way to see the city than by bicycle. Cyclin’ Jaipur was who we booked our tour with and we had an amazing, knowledgeable guide named Raju. Our first stop was across the street from the Wind Palace, our guide took us onto someone’s private rooftop for a better view. Built in 1799 it consists of 953 windows so the ladies living there could watch the city from any view.
2nd stop Beautiful Albert Hall Museum
The building was proposed by the Prince of Wales, Albert Edward in 1876 but with no real intention as to what it would be used for. It was later suggested that it be an Industrial Arts Museum to display the works of local craftsman. Outside the museum you can purchase seed to feed the pigeons. It is considered good karma to feed the animals.
3rd stop Marble Statue Workshop
Here we saw how marble statues of Hindi gods are created. Starting from huge slabs of marble mined 100km from Jaipur, the statues go through multiple processes of manual labor before completion. Makrana marble is what they used here and it is considered the oldest and finest in quality. This is the same type of marble used in the Taj Mahal and even in some of the White House!
We also stopped at a number of well know local street food and drink stands that only a local like Raju would know. One included the original Lassi Wala stand, which is a sweetened yogurt drink served in a clay cup, has been in business since 1944. Another was a chai tea stand where locals meet to conduct their business meetings or socialize with one another. Both were very busy because they are the best at what they do.
On our third day we hired a driver and visited a number of the historic sights in the area. Outside Jaipur is the city of Amer. Once the capital of the Rajasthan region, it is now a famous sight for where Raja Man Singh ruled and built the Amber palace in the 16th century. Inside the palace there are many interesting features, including the ladies garden which has a garden designed to look like a Persian rug. The Hall of Mirrors is a room that has convex mirrors lining all of the walls and ceilings. It is said that a single lamp could light up the entire room.
Jantar Mantar – Translation: instruments for measuring the harmony of the heavens
Jantar Mantar was created in the 1700s and is a collection of 19 architectual astronomical instruments. The whole complex is astonishing, all of the instruments are massive in size and most are made of stone and marble. The sundial pictured below is the world’s largest and stands at 88 feet tall. It is impressive to think all of this was made over 300 years ago!
Through our 4 days in Jaipur we learned so much by visiting the sights and talking to people of the area. In a city with so much history it was enchanting to go back in time and walk through the rooms and halls of kings and queens, revisit their lives and understand their traditions. Jaipur is a diamond in the rough for sure!