The city of Jaipur, capital of the state of Rajasthan and also known as the Pink City, is a gem set into the north-west corner of India, glimmering like a gem amidst the barren sands of the Thar Desert. The greatest appeal of Jaipur lies in its monuments and architecture. A land of forts, palaces and havelis, the city offers a perfect amalgam of Rajput and Mughul traditions, combining in it the best of both worlds.
One of the most visited monuments in Jaipur is the Hawa Mahal, a unique semi-octagonal monument with 152 individual jharokhas or embellished windows, created to facilitate the voyeurism of royal women as they looked down from to the processions below. Then there is the Jantar Mantar, an observatory built by Sawai Jai Singh that was amongst the first of its kind. The City Palace is another popular destination, specially since a part of it has been converted into a museum housing rare and magnificent examples of miniature paintings, manuscripts, costumes, etc. And then of course, is the Amber Fort built in red stone and white marble by Raja Man Singh in the 16th century and completed by Sawai Jai Singh in the 18th century. A popular attraction of the fort is the elephant ride that take visitors to the hillside where it is located, recalling in doing so the splendor and regality of an age of kings and princes.
Jaipur is also known for its unique Elephant Festival that takes place in March each year. It comprises of bejeweled and decorated elephants in grand processions, playing polo and then celebrating Holi, the festival of colours, in colour-filled spurts of joy and excitement. Although the festival focuses on elephants in particular, one can also see camels and horses in grand finery.
Much of Jaipur's appeal lies in its cultural heritage that includes music, dance and puppetry. In what can only be described as spell-binding, the artistes and performers of folk and traditional cultural systems reveal the richness of their sounds and movements in evenings filled with the intangible yet unforgettable sights and sounds of a culture that has its roots in centuries of practice and belief.
For those interested in exploring the markets, once again Jaipur will leave you amazed. With markets filled with brilliant hues in clothes, jewllery, decoration items, embellished footwear, rugs, wall-hangings, traditional miniature paintings, mementoes and innumerable other artifacts, the city offers all shoppers the time of a lifetime. The mirror-work, embroidery and gem markets in Jaipur are famous for their variety and beauty and visitors find themselves besotted by the raw charm of handcrafted items.
In keeping with the wider ethos of Rajasthan, Jaipur, its capital, is a city of grandeur, warmth, history, and culture. While allowing you all the comforts of modern living it offers a rare chance to leave behind the travails of the present and catch a glimpse of past that was filled with passion, chivalry - a past that offsets beauty, brilliance and bravery in just the right balance.