Sunday, January 23, 2005

Jaipur - An Everlasting Memory of Times Bygone

I would recommend that everyone visit Jaipur at least once in their lifetime - the splendour of the past has been captured and packaged in a way that makes you cherish your experience forever. It helped that I stayed at the Bissau Palace, once home to nobility, now partly a heritage hotel, where 'comfort curls like a cat around your feet'.

What the authors of a piece on Jaipur have to say sums up best the reason why Jaipur is so special - 'Apathy is a logocal impossibility in Sawai Jai Singh's capital'. Popularly known as India's Pink City, the story goes that in the 1970's, the ruling king had all the buildings painted pink in honour of a visit by the Prince of Wales. The Old City houses some specimens of architectural wonder, like the City Palace, the Jantar Mantar and Hawa Mahal. But the main reason anyone should visit Jaipur is to see the forts - the Amber Fort ('Amber' in English, 'Amer' in local language) and the Jaigarh and Nahargarh Forts. Regally constructed atop a hill, the Amber Fort was home to the kings and queens of Amber. It is huge, rambling, dark and mysterious in some parts, open and horticulturally happy in others. The Jaigarh Fort was built primarily as a defence structure, and houses the country's (can't remember if it is also the world's) largest cannon. The Nahargarh Fort was built by a king for his nine wives, and has nine identical sections. Both provide awe-inspiring views of the Aravallis and the surrounding countryside.

Johori Bazar has streets lined with shops where you can get practically everything you would want to in Jaipur. I'd recommend the traditional Rajasthani 'bandhej' sarees.

After one quick visit, I feel I could go back for more. The city is full of tourists, primarily from France, the UK, Belgium and America, who wander happily around, and I'm sure they feel the same way.

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