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Jaipur Travel Guide - Sights to See
Jaipur is often referred to as the "rose city" because of the delicate flamingo color with which so many of the most interesting buildings were painted. The streets are very wide - even by modern standards. This was planned by Sawai Jai Singh in 1727 to accommodate old time elephant processions. He was only 13 when he became ruler and he went on to become one of the world's major astronomers, building observatories throughout India.

The Palace: The City Palace, built by Maharaja Sawait Jai Singh in 1728 is in the center of Old Town. Half of this palace is still a private residence where the current Maharaja lives. The buildings here look as if it they have been made of marble lace. See the Pothikhana, the coronation hall with an enormous glass chandelier. Note the doors throughout the palace. Some are huge brass ones, while others are of delicately carved ivory. Pass through the gate flanked by two large marble elephants and come to the Sharbata, a deep-pink colored court with white patterns. Here the marble-pillared Diwani-J-Khas (Hall of Private Audience) is located. Connected to its patio is the Hall of Public Audience were festivals are still celebrated in the large courtyard. Above this yard is the screened latticework gallery from which the royal ladies would view the proceedings below. Dominating the palace buildings is the majestic Chandra Mahal, the towering seven-story white building dating from 1728. The Silehkhana (Armory) is famous for the finest collection of armor and arms in India. Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds): This is the best-known landmark in Jaipur. It's part of the palace compound but is best seen from the front, on the main street of town.

Jantar Mantar (The Observatory): Easily one of Sawai Jai Singh's greatest feats was the construction of this observatory, which adjoins the Palace. Jai Singh often spent hours among these massive yet precise structures. They are even more impressive when one remembers they were built in the very early 1700s. The sundial gives the actual local time in Jaipur - to the minute. The largest structure - 90 feet high - gives time in units even smaller than a second. The high steps were used both to take the reading and to forecast the weather. The structure that looks like a tilted twin-faced clock is really the equinox dials. Only one of the two circular surfaces is ever touched by the sun's rays at one time: in winter one side is lit, in summer the other. In addition, there are separate structures for each of the twelve signs of the Zodiac. At the outer edge of the compound is a circular structure with two inner rings: the center one represents the sun, the middle one the earth, and the outer edge the horizon. The shadow created gives the time at Greenwich - at noon the sun's shadow falls at zero on all three rings.

Amber Palace: Seven miles from Jaipur is the fabulous Palace of Amber. Maharaja Man Singh began to construct the Palace of Amber in the early 17th century. It remains today in much of its original state. Traditionally tourists navigate the hill to the palace by elephant. At the top the palace has marble pillars crowned with elephants heads, each animal holding a lotus in its trunk. The Ganesh Pol (Gate), covered with 300-year-old paintings, leads to an inner courtyard garden. Nearby is the Jal Mandir, a glass palace whose walls and ceilings are covered with mirrors and spangles. The Maharani's apartments are adjoining, all rooms and balconies connected by a ramp. From these quarters one can peer through filigree marble "windows" into the public courtyard below. At the back of the palace are the servants sparse quarters. This palace has a primitive type of air conditioning: water pouring down a ribbed marble channel, cooled by winds blowing through the perforated marble screen at each side.
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Author of this article is Gene Gill. For more information visit his website: Gene Gill Miniatures.
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