From Suroth village we hopped on the bus and left to our next destination, which was Jaipur – The Pink city of Rajasthan.
Jaipur is one of the most culturally rich heritage cities in India and also part of the Golden Triangle, which is a popular tourist itinerary that included also Delhi and Agra.
The city was designed by the Rajput Emperor – Jai Singh who moved the capital from Amber to Jaipur. He wanted to construct a great architectural wonder and he paid much attention to details. The city is named after him.
It is called the Pink City after the visit of Prince Albert and Queen Victoria. Since pink was considered the color of hospitality at that time, Maharaja Ram Singh had the whole city painted pink to welcome the royal guests. Like this it gained the nickname of the Pink city.
Play with the monkeys, in Monkey Temple
On our way to Jaipur we had a short stop at Galta Ji Temple, aka Monkey temple.
Galta Ji is a large Hindu temple complex 10 km away from Jaipur. The temple itself looked deserted but the attraction is that it has a large monkey colony that roams around freely, hence the nickname – The Monkey temple.The temple has a vast history behind, it is said that the it was constructed in the 16th century and renovated in 18th century.
The complex is set on 3 different levels. The actual temple was at ground level and then somewhere up there are 2 separate water pools, one for women and the other for men. It is believed that pure water flows from the mountains and that bathing in these waters removes your sins, purifying your soul.
Barun Mishra, our guide, arranged for us a visit in this temple, and presented us the most famous Monkey Man on the planet to show us around.
We had low expectations of this tour since we have seen many other attractions that had monkeys in the center of attention, but this time it was different. We slowly realized that this man can somehow communicate to monkeys and understand them.
With his help we could get very close to the monkeys without getting bitten or scratched. We could feed them or carry them around on our shoulders.Monkey are known to be a little aggressive, so we were a little afraid of them in the beginning. Soon we got used with them and enjoyed every moment.
Although Monkey Man was not a guide, he was more than happy to show us the temple and tell us more things about the monkeys. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the name of the guy.
Coming here it was a very good decision. We really enjoyed our visit and we recommend it.
The next stop was at a family textile factory.
Well, India is the perfect place to buy some special things, like the colorful textiles.
India is still among the first countries in the world that produces silk and cotton, so it is the perfect place to buy some great souvenirs.
We saw how scarves were hand painted and how much work is involved for making a great carpet. Everything was very interesting.
I even bought a saree. I wanted to have at home the colors of India.
Early in the morning we went to visit the famous Amber Fort with a short stop to see the most representative palace in Jaipur, Hawa Mahal also called the Palace of the Winds.
Hawa Mahal is known as the Palace of the Winds and one of the most beautiful palaces in Jaipur. Its pink and rose colored stone makes the whole structure so impressive and gorgeous.
953 windows are covering the facade, and it was specially designed to allow the ladies of the royal court to watch unobserved the drama happening on the streets on the market. Ladies of the royal family where not allowed to walk freely in the city.This facade is really amazing and it is one of the finest examples of Rajput architecture in India.
The 5-storied facade is just a screen with little structure behind it. The basic principle is cross ventilation that allows air to circulate. This being the reason why it is called the Palace of Winds.
Unfortunately we didn’t have the chance to see the interior of the palace. But we know that each floor was unique.
Sharad Mandir was the first floor or the courtyard with cool fountains.
Ratan Mandir was the second floor accessed only by ramps. This floor has a intricate glass work on the corridors that is very colorful. Here there is also a small courtyard with small viewing pavilions.
Vichitra Mandir was the third floor which was named as the doors were kept closed. It was and escape floor for Maharaja. Prakash Mandir was the fourth floor was actuality a view platform.
Hawa Mandir the fifth floor and the highest floor was the panoramic one.
The palace faces the main street of the Old City, and it looks amazing early in the morning when it is lit by direct light from the sun, but especially in the night, when it is light up.
The best place to admire the Winds Palace is from the Wind View Café, on the rooftop of the opposite building.
It is the perfect spot to be romantic enjoying a cold drink or a hot cup of masala chai.
We wanted to spend more time here by the Hawa Mahal, so we came back and enjoy an evening drink with a view. Love it!
Now was time to see Amber Fort.
Located very close to “Pink City” of Jaipur, amber Fort was the original home of Rajput royalty and has a lot of magnificent palaces, halls garden and temples inside.
The construction of the fortress-palace of white and red sandstone began in 16 century. The name has nothing to do with the pastel yellow color, because the fort is named after the of Amber, in turn named after goddess Amba.
In order to reach the entrance of the fort we had two options:
- By elephant.
The elephant has a rich history in India and it is worshiped in their culture.
Here more and more tourists choose to reach the Fort by riding an elephant. These animals are decorated with traditional painted patterns. It will take about 30 minutes for the entire ride.
The elephant will take you to the main courtyard inside the fort itself.
According to Jaipur Travel Guide and our local guide, there are regulations to protect these animals. There is a limit to the total number of journeys for each elephant per day and the welfare of the elephants has significantly improved.
Jaipur government ensures that the animals are healthy and health checks are perform regularly performed.
Nonetheless, we don’t approve and promote this kind of entertainment and we have chosen not to take a ride.
- By Jeep.
Another option is to reach the fort’s gate by jeep.We chose the second option. But honestly we would prefer to walk up to there and have the chance to admire the surroundings. But this time we had no time to spare for this walk.
We started our tour in the public courtyard. Army parades used to take place in this courtyard and after climbing some small steps we reached the temple of Shila Devi. Sacrifices were part of the temple rituals and legends say that human sacrifices were made here in the past.Then we reached the second courtyard where public audiences were held followed by Ganesh Pol which was the main gate of the palace leading to the king’s private quarters.Here we saw the fort’s most exquisite part, the Hall of private audiences which has its walls covered with mirrors.The oldest part of the fort has many rooms for the queen.
Amber is a must see place because it represents more than a fort or a spectacular palace and it offers a wonderful view over Jaipur.
On the way back to the city we had a quick stop at the Jal Mahal or Water Palace.This palace was, probably the most serene place in the city.
It appeared to be floating in the center of Sagar Lake.The place was constructed as a hunting lodge for the local Raja. In 16th century a severe drought forced the Raja to create the artificial lake an submerge the lower portions of the palace.Today the building can’t be visited, but it can be admired day and night from the shore.
The palace is illuminated during nighttime and it looks amazing.
Jantar Montar Obsevatory
In the 18th century Maharajah Sawaii Jai Singh II constructed five astronomical observatories in northern India. He realized that the existing astronomical instruments were to small for correct measurements to be achieved.
So Jantar Montar is an observatory park with instruments that work on the principle of sun light to tel the time at every moment of the day. The monument features the world’s largest sundial and it is a part of the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
We had a guide that told us a lot of interesting things about the place. If we had walked around on our own, we wouldn’t have had any idea what we were looking at.
It was very hard to believe that an instrument build 300 years ago could show the time with such high precision.
Our next stop was a short visit to the City Palace.
The City Palace interestingly still remained the official residence for the Maharajah Family of Jaipur, which lives in a private section of the palace.
It is very interesting that in Rajasthan the Maharaja Families are still keeping their titles and palaces. They may have lost their kingdoms but the urge for power still ran through their veins. So either they moved to politics or they have flourish business.
The City Palace of Jaipur is located within the city center and has vast courtyards, beautiful gardens and impressive architectural chambers.
The opulent sections of the palace still narrate Jaipur’s glorious past.
As we entered the Palace, you stepped in a huge courtyard where we saw Mubarak Mahal, a splendid welcoming palace.The House of Public Audience is now an art gallery. It has stunning archways and pillars embellished with spectacular carvings.
Because the day was still young, we decided to take an Uber to the newest gate – Patrika Gate.
Jaipur City was built on the principles of Vaastu Shastra and had a wall surrounding the city with seven Gates.
Later Sawai Man Singh built the eight gate. Patrika Gate is the latest one, and the ninth gate of the city.
Number nine holds great significance. It is considered an auspicious number.
Each pillar is dedicated to some other parts of the state.
It really is a amazing piece of work. We loved it.
Jaipur was one of my favorite cities in India. I was delighted by the gorgeous architecture, rich history and overall the city vibe.