A visit to the extraordinary observatory and the City Palace in the heart of Jaipur
Between 1724 and 1730 Maharajah Sawaii Jai Singh II of Jaipur constructed five astronomical observatories in northern India. The observatories, or “Jantar Mantars” as they are commonly known, incorporate multiple buildings of unique form, each with a specialized function for astronomical measurement. These structures with their striking combinations of geometric forms at large scale have captivated the attention of architects, artists, and art historians world wide, yet remain largely unknown to the general public
The Jantar Mantar in Jaipur is one of the five and houses a collection of twenty architectural astronomical instruments. Built by the Rajput king Sawai Jai Singh II, and completed in 1734, it features the world’s largest stone sundial and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The instruments are constructed from masonry, stone and brass and were built using astronomy and instrument design principles outlined in ancient Hindu Sanskrit texts. The instruments allow the observation of astronomical positions with the naked eye; the scale of the structures was very impressive. As well as instruments of various sizes (and accuracy) for telling time there was a number set aside for astrology, which is very important in Hindu culture, especially when it comes to births and marriage.
Planning your visit to Jantar Mantar
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.