"The Pink City, Rajasthan's sunny capital" Top 5 Page for this destination Jaipur by 850prc
Jaipur Travel Guide: 1,050 reviews and 3,138 photos
The city of Jaipur has long been associated with Indian royalty. Mulgal kings and Hindu Rulers have both considered Jaipur to be a focal point of their rule(s). Jaipur is also considered to be part of what the tourism industry calls "the golden triangle", with the other legs being Delhi and Agra. The city has been nicknamed "The Pink City" and has been called so for hundreds of years. This has to do with a point in time where the ruling maharajah ordered that all buildings in his city be painted a particular shade of pink. (It was done to impress foreign visitors) Today, the central part of the city retains this basic pink color, and you'll often hear of a business or site being at so-and-so address "in the Pink City". This means it's in the old part of Jaipur.
Besides the inner mysteries and charms of the Pink City, there are several forts in the immediate area, the most famous of which is called The Amber Fort. This massive edifice, a few km from the center of Jaipur, is truly an impressive and breathtaking site. It may be a tourist thing to do, but riding a royal Raj elephant up to the gates of the Amber Palace makes an impression that lasts forever.
One of the more renowned maharajahs - Jai Singh II - had a huge interest in both astronomy and astrology. That put him squarely into the crosshairs of being a true 18th century man of enlightenment, this combination of science and superstition.
At Jantar Mantar, Jai Singh II built two huge sundials, including one that remains today the world's largest sundial. There are also other scientific instruments designed to ascertain the correct positioning of the earth in its orbit and such. And before you decide that Jai Singh was a true scientist in every form, he also build several structures dedicated to mapping the constellations in the heavens, so as to predict - via astrology - future events.
You will find some tipsters on VT who will pooh-pooh the notion of an elephant ride at the Amber Palace. OK OK, it's pure tourist stuff. But... it's just cool, it really is. It really does give you a feel for the imperial grandeur of India past, and it's neat to remember that there still IS a reigning maharajah (Sawai Singh) in Jaipur today. As for the folks who do not engage in such tourist activity, that's fine. When you travel, you need to travel in the manner that you choose.
But for me, I say be a tourist. Ride the elephants. Have your photo taken. Enjoy the music. Smell the city. You've come a long way for something very different from home. And, you may just learn something.
One quick note... many guidebooks make reference to the elephants being not treated well, they reference mahout cruelty and abuse. I was on the lookout for any such issue when we arrived at the Palace, and had our elephants appeared remotely to be in any distress, neglect or agony, we would have refused to frequent the business. I make no claim to being an animal expert, but... from where I sat and from the time I rode up at the Palace, I saw no mistreated animals, no signs of illness, abuse or neglect. Perhaps a previously bad situation is improving, due to the vocal concern of the traveling public.
What did I learn from my elephant ride? WELL... I used to think that taking a three day elephant safari through Royal Chitwan Park in Nepal was one of my goals. Well, I still want to visit Chitwan, but I am nixing the three day elephant safari. I don't think I want to ride an elephant for three days. :) 30 minutes yes. Three days no.
- Pros:Incredible beauty and majesty, the grandeur of the Amber Fort, the science of Jantar Mantar, the wistful Hawal Mahal (Palace of the Winds). So much to see and be amazed by.
- Cons:You'd best come between October and March. It gets pretty darned hot in the summer. Actually, it's pretty darned hot in October, too.
- In a nutshell:There is a real, live maharajah living here, in his own City Palace. How cool is that?
Amber Palace, as does many of the other royal complexes in India, features (a) Diwan-i-Am, which means the Hall of... more travel advice
One of the more impressive structures at the Amber Palace is the Sheesh Mahal, which means "The Mirrored Palace".... more travel advice
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