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Published: December 30th 2019
Hariom was waiting outside for us at 8.30am this morning for another big day of sightseeing, our last in Jaipur. First stop was the City Palace. Hawa Mahal, or Palace of the Winds, which we saw the first afternoon we were here, is a wing of this palace.
Still the residence of the Jaipur royal family, some wings, courtyards and gardens are open to the public. We purchased the Royal Grandeur tickets which entitled us to enter some of the reception and sitting rooms still used by the royal family. A guide is mandatory with this ticket, and security guards were everywhere, even taking the lifts with us.
City Palace is a palace complex, which used to be the seat of the Maharajah of Jaipur and is made up of an impressive array of courtyards, gardens and buildings. It was built between 1727 and 1732 by Sawai Jai Singh II, the founder of Jaipur. The vast complex is contained by high walls with monumental arched gateways on three sides providing access to the broad bazaar streets of the city.
Diwan-i-Aam is the hall of audience, a large chamber adorned with many chandeliers and floored with marble. There are
two large silver vessels here which can store 4000 litres of liquid. They were made by melting 14,000 silver coins and are in the Guinness Book of Records as being the largest sterling silver objects in the world. They were filled with water from the Ganges River, and travelled with him, when Maharajah Singh visited England for the coronation of Edward VII in 1902.
More commonly known as the Peacock Courtyard, Pritam Niwas Chowk, has four gorgeous hand painted gates which are very popular photography spots. The most photographed gate is adorned with five splendid peacock murals.
The Peacock Gate represents autumn and has a small idol of Lord Vishnu on its lintel. The Lotus Gate is adorned with dramatic lotus petals and flower patterns. It represents the summer and Lord Shiva. The Rose Gate showcases the winter season. Filled with repeating rose patterns, it is dedicated to Goddess Devi. The Leheriya (waves) gate is in a gorgeous green colour, indicating spring and dedicated to Lord Ganesha. We were here early and had the courtyard to ourselves, half an hour later was a completely different story.
Inside the palace complex there were rooms where no photography was
allowed. But those we were allowed to snap away in were rather spectacular.
‘Sukh Niwas’ is a stunning blue and white room, and just being there filled us with a sense of peace. ‘Rang Mandir' is the mirror room with walls, pillars, and ceiling decorated with mirrors. ‘Shobha Niwas’ has mirror walls with blue tiles and gold leaf designs, and according to our guide, was a prayer room.
A very enjoyable tour where photos of the royal family with American presidents, English Royalty and film stars were pointed out to us. The rooms were comfortable, but not lavish, which surprised us.
Next on the list was Royal Gaitore which was a royal cremation ground for the Kachhwaha Rajput kings and members of the royal family. The word 'Gaitore' is believed to be a mispronounced form of the Hindi phrase, 'Gaye ka Thor' which means 'resting place of the departed souls'. Located on a narrow valley on Jaipur-Amer road, this place is 15 km away from Jaipur. From 1733, the cremation of every Kachhwaha king was held here.
The cenotaphs of Gaitor are open domed pavilions built on raised platforms. They symbolise the perfect blend of Islamic
architecture and Hindu temple architecture.
The carvings in each cenotaph reflect the style and taste of the specific king and the culture which was prevalent in his time. Traces of paintings which once decorated the walls of the cenotaphs can still be seen.
The one which is dedicated to Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II stands out. This cenotaph, made of pure white marble, is decorated with stunning peacock designs, peacocks being India’s national bird.
There were lots of wedding photos and even a scene for a Bollywood movie being shot whilst we were there. The cenotaphs were beautifully detailed and clean, what better place for that perfect backdrop?
Back in the car again, we had an unscheduled stop at a shop we’d passed a couple of times, and both noticed. Hariom read his newspaper and waited for us whilst we ducked into Jaipur’s Blue Pottery Shop. What a treasure trove! We both left with a bag of goodies, I definately overspent on handmade and painted ceramic beads.
Next stop was Patrika’s Gate, built in 2016, and located close to the airport about 30 minutes from the city, it graces the entrance to Jawahar Circle Gardens.
The building facade is pink in colour though shades lighter than the famous Jaipur pink- terracotta pink. The facade is flanked by figures of elephants, horses, and soldiers. These are important elements associated with the valour of the princely states of Rajasthan.
While the gate is just one of the many architectural wonders in Jaipur, the opulent design of it’s nine pavilions is genuinely awe-inspiring, as the wall panels and ceilings are beautifully painted with intricate motifs and colours. Each pillar and column depict the scenes from various regions of Rajasthan, so visitors get a glimpse of the rich architectural and cultural legacy of the state.
It’s been a really lovely day. We have now seen the best of what Jaipur has to offer and will be leaving early in the morning enroute to Agra, with a couple of big attractions to visit before we get there.
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