City Palace: The inspiration and indulgences of Rajasthan's Royal Family
Jaipur’s City Palace was built by Sawai Jai Singh who headed the Kachwaha Rajput Clan and is credited as the founder of Jaipur. The Palace served as the seat of his throne.
Construction of the Palace was 17th century, as he wanted to shift the capital of the state from Amber to Jaipur.
Raja Man Singh II was the last ruler of this dynasty to hold the throne in this Palace. The beautiful structure was designed by architects Vidyadhar Bhattacharya and Samuel Swinton Jacob who brought a European influence to the design.
1. MUBARAK MAHAL
One of the first buildings you come to at the City Palace is the Mubarak Mahal, meaning the ‘Auspicious Palace’. It was built with a fusion of the Islamic, Rajput and European architectural styles in the late 19th century by Maharaja Madho Singh II as a reception centre. Today, it is a museum with exhibits of textiles and carpets from the royal family’s collection. Our guide was particularly enthusiastic about the display of the voluminous clothes worn by Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh I, who was a mind-boggling seven feet tall, 4 feet wide and weighed 550lb and had 108 wives (most probably died from being crushed or suffocated!)
2. CHANDRA MAHAL
From the Mubarak Mahal, we passed through another gate into the courtyard of the Chandra Mahal, at the centre of which is the Diwan-i-Aam, the Hall of Public Audience, a marble-floored chamber located between the armoury and the art gallery. On display are two huge sterling silver vessels 5.2 feet high and each with capacity of 4000 litres and weighing 750lb.They are made from 14,000 melted silver coins and are from a single cast and hold the Guinness World record for the world’s largest sterling silver vessels. This inner courtyard provides access to the Chandra Mahal. There are four small gates that are adorned with themes representing the four seasons and Hindu gods. The gates are the Northeast Peacock Gate representing autumn and dedicated to Lord Vishnu; the Southeast Lotus Gate for the summer season and dedicated to Lord Shiva-Parvati; the Northwest Green Gate, also called the Leheriya (meaning: “waves”) gate, in green colour dedicated to spring and Lord Ganesha, and lastly, the Rose Gate with repeated flower patterns representing winter season and dedicated to Goddess Devi.
At the far end of the Chandra Mahal is seven storey building which is primarily used by the Royal Family as its primary residence.
Planning your visit to The City Palace
The best way to get around Jaipur depends on what you’re doing and where you’ll be. The Old City is well laid out and its many sights and shopping areas aren’t too far apart, making getting around on foot your best option. If you do get tired, you can hop a cycle rickshaw, which is ideal for short distances. A quick trip shouldn’t cost more than 12 INR (but you’ll likely need to bargain).
Another option for getting around the rest of the city is by taking the bus. Low floor buses operated by Jaipur City Transport Service Limited (JCTSL) crisscross the city via a number of routes and run between 6:30am and 10pm. Fares depend on how far you’re travelling, but expect to pay between 8 and 25 INR.
Autorickshaws are another option for getting from A to B and since they’re so plentiful, finding one shouldn’t be a problem. This is probably your best bet for getting to Amber Fort since it lies outside the city; a return trip should cost between 350 to 400 INR.
|Location:||Jaleb Chowk, Near Jantar Mantar, Tripolia Bazar, Gangori Bazaar, J.D.A. Market, Kanwar Nagar, Jaipur, Rajasthan|
|Hours:||10 am to 6 pm|
|Entry Fee:||700 Rupees for foreign tourists|
Best time to visit Jaipur
Winters are from October to March and are the best time to enjoy holidays in Jaipur city. The days are very pleasant but the nights are cold with less than 4°C . Carry heavy woollens while travelling. You can enjoy the sightseeing at the historic forts along with the Elephant Festival in March, Kite Festival during Makar Sankranti and Jaipur Literature Fest in January.
Summers are from April to June and are very hot and dry. During this time the average temperature is 44°C – 45°C Hot winds blows throughout the day making sightseeing next to impossible. The festival of Gangaur is celebrated during this time. Drink lots of water and juices, wear light cotton wares and carry a pair of good sunglasses if you are planning visit this city at this time.
Monsoons are from July to September but Jaipur receives low to medium rainfall. You can join the local festival of Teej if you are in the city in the month of August.
Where to stay?
1. ALSISAR HAVELI
This charming heritage hotel was built in 1892 as a nobleman’s townhouse. Having been carefully restored, this historic haveli was converted into a heritage hotel in 1994. Alsisar Haveli lies in the heart of the Old City of Jaipur, just a ten-minute drive from the popular Pink City with all its major sights and museums. The hotel is owned by the “Kachawa” clan of Rajputs who for more than five centuries ago founded a sub-clan popularly known as “Shekhawat”. In the lobby one can see the intricate Shekhawati frescos adorning the ceilings. This heritage haveli has a dramatic facade displaying the traditional Rajput architecture with rambling courtyards, stained glass windows, serene alcoves, and lush greenery. Enjoy the ambience at the outdoor swimming pool surrounded by ornate gazebos and cenotaphs.
2. DERA MANDAWA
During our visit, we had the pleasure of staying at the Dera Mandawa, which is conveniently located in the heart of all the action in Jaipur.
Established in circa 1885 by Thakur Jait Singh Ji of Mandawa, it was built for his stay when he came to attend the court of the Maharaja of Jaipur. Today it is a boutique heritage hotel run by his great-grandson, Thakur Durga Singh ji and the Mandawa family.
We were very fortunate to be staying in one of the grandest staterooms. It had very tall ceilings and a 2nd-floor balcony that overlooked the sleeping area, which led to a small child’s room. It felt very exotic and we felt sad that we were only spending two nights here.
3. HOTEL PEARL PALACE
Conveniently located just south of Jaipur Railway Station, Hotel Pearl Palace is a charming budget hotel that in many ways feels more like a mid-range boutique property. The 30 rooms here range from basic dorm rooms (guests can rent out whole dorms or just single beds) to snazzy and spacious air-conditioned Deluxe Rooms. Features include free Wi-Fi, clothing and jewelry shops, and laundry service, but the hotel’s most attractive feature by far is its gorgeous Peacock Rooftop Restaurant, a two-story terrace restaurant with a large menu as well as room service. The hotel also offers free pick-ups from the bus and train stations, saving first-time visitors a lot of potential hassle.