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Jaipur
A Shehnai player on a bullock cart - a part of the Teej festival procession.

Walking through the streets of Jaipur City is a pleasure that people often describe at great lengths in their travelogues. Still, a large number of visitors miss just that. For they are not aware that the city of Jaipur with its residential quarters is as worthy to be seen as its incomparable uncountable monuments. There is still confusion in policy makers whether to call Jaipur a heritage city or a city of heritages - it has the best of both. The way people perform their crafts and sell commodities from the shops lined up on both sides of the streets and lanes is extremely photogenic, as if it is an artificial scene created for tourists. But the fact is that it is business as usual, and as always.

Map of JaipurJaipur is an extremely well proportioned city, quite unusual among other historic Indian cities, planned to the minutest detail and to the smallest structure. Serving as thoroughfares for the ever important processions, the wide and straight main streets have uniform sized and shaped shops on both sides with no residential quarters opening up on them. Only the temples open up on main streets. The rectangular blocks made by intersections of the main streets have the residential mansions known as havelis opening up on shadowy smaller streets known as rastas and galis, each one having its characteristic names. The names of the lanes (for instance, Khazane walon ka rasta, Maniharon ka rasta, Topkhane ka rasta, Lalji Saand ka rasta, Jat ke Kuen ka rasta, Dinanathji ki gali...) are so interesting and inviting, it becomes worthwhile to explore each one. These lanes have a judicious mix of public wells, temples of different deities, chaurahas (crossroads), chowks (squares) and shops of various artisans where they manufacture and sell at the same spot. The huge squares of main streets, known as chaupers, are conveniently located so that they can be easily reached from any of the massive gates of this walled city. They are the ideal places to glimpse the entire gamut of social activity which changes every hour of the day.  

Flower sellers doing brisk business outside Sri Govind Devji Temple, JaipurThe North Central 1/7th sector of Jaipur is the City Palace compound having a number of interesting building including the temple of the most worshipped deity of Jaipur - Sri Govind Devji. Each of its several prayers each day is a moving experience. A morning walking trip to this temple is highly rewarding - temple bells tolling, birds chirruping , business being unfolded, cattle & pigeons being fed, flowers & vegetable vendors settling down, morning snacks like samosas and jalebis being prepared in sweetmeat shops, pilgrims walking steadfast for ritual attendance in temples and so on. The process of making IMARTI or JALEBI is an extremely interesting one. The batter is squeezed out with circular motions of the hand from a piece of cloth with a hole. Any time of the day and any part of the city, a walk for some time will unfold the mystery why Jaipur is a pedestrian’s delight.

Jaipur has been wisely designed so by the legendary Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II mixing modern thought with ages old building concepts. A great scholar and astronomer, his other contributions include the enormous astronomical observatory Jantar Mantar located in the City Palace Complex. The City Palace itself is a fine example of Rajput-Mughal architecture having priceless collection of miniatures, manuscripts, jewelry, costumes and armory. The huge seven story Chandra Mahal in this complex has Govind Devji temple right at its back followed by the sprawling Jai Niwas gardens, Badal Mahal (Cloud Palace - one of Jaipur's earliest structures), Talkatora lake and Garh Ganesh temple over the hill top forming a linear symmetry to the Tripolia Gate and Chaura Rasta (Broad way) in the main city. This amazing sense of symmetry further extends to the Ram Niwas gardens and the beautiful Albert Hall right up to the airport. The picturesque Moti Doongri Castle, Birla temple, Jawahar Kala Kendra, Museum of Indology, and Sanjay Sharma museum are at short diversions from this main street.

The last rays of the setting sun seem to set Nahargarh (Tiger Fort) ablaze.The majestic Nahargarh fort imposingly looks over the entire city from the hills at the back of the palace. Back in the City Palace compound, the Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds) is undoubtedly the most familiar monument associated with Jaipur. A number of temples, Rajasthan’s legislative assembly building, Jaleb Chowk, Rath Khana and Isar Lat are part of City Palace complex. 

A drive towards Amber, the old capital of Kachhawaha dynasty (the ruler clan of Dhundhar region, now known as Jaipur) is a serpentine way through the hills passing through the impressive Jal Mahal (water palace) and Kanak Brindavan Gardens on the way. Reaching Amber is like arriving in a different world altogether. After ascending the fort on elephant back, ample time is required to fully appreciate the Ganesh Pol, Diwan-e-aam, Sheesh Mahal, Sukh Niwas, Zenana and magnificent views around. Just above Amber is the sturdy Jaigarh Fort with its impressive cannons, including JAI VAAN - the largest cannon on wheels in the world. Rural ladies bargaining in one of the bazaars Jaipur has many more attractions... Gaitor, Maharani ki Chhatri, Sisodia Rani ka Bagh and Vidyadhar Gardens to name a few.

This ever-prosperous trade center has no dearth of modern flavors added to it. Besides its many amusement parks, Jaipur has the most lavish cinema theatre Rajmandir, the very impressive Birla Convention Center, a number of clubs, golf course and Polo grounds. The opulence-personified Rambagh Palace and the luxury-personified Rajvilaas are two of the world’s best hotel resorts that Jaipur proudly has, among many others. A number of impressive havelis of noblemen in Jaipur Royal family are now tasteful heritage hotels. If everything else fails to impress you, Jaipur's bazaars will not, Don't forget your credit card back home! as they make this city a shopper’s ultimate delight. Those not interested in shopping, can see how the crafts are made - in Jaipur itself or in the nearby Sanganer and Bagru towns.

Come to Jaipur anytime and you are welcomed with its touch of class. Come for any reasons. For its mouthwatering delicacies offered at street sides to classy restaurants... to participate in its uncountable processions and festivities... to join its many music and dance schools... for top-notch excursions around the city... to just shop till you drop...  to spend some moments of regality in palaces, pomp, show and mock weddings... 

Jaipur was painted pink in honor of a British Prince visiting this city, hence its name Pink City. The city still blushes pink in honor of its guests.

QUICK FACTS
Getting there Well connected by air with New Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Calcutta, Udaipur and Jaisalmer.
Almost all major cities are connected with Jaipur by rail.
Frequent deluxe buses connect it with other cities of Rajasthan and Delhi.
Further connections

Jaipur is a good base for further travels in Rajasthan. 
With New Delhi and Agra, it forms the Golden Triangle of Tourism.

Best time to visit October to March. August is a good bet too as people in Jaipur celebrate this monsoon month in festive manner. Also the hotels offer good discounts.
Important Festivals Elephant festival (March), Gangaur (March/April), Teej (August) and Diwali (October/November). Diwali of Jaipur is outstanding in India which a few people know. Jaipur remains festive all through the year except in the two summer months of May and June.
Excursions Samode, Kanota, Abhaneri, Ranthambhore, Kishangarh, and Shekhawati.
TOURS TO JAIPUR

Inside a block printing factory in Sanganer, near Jaipur An early morning picture of the Albert Hall Museum. Teej festival procession passing in front of Tripolia Gate. A typical Namkeen shop. Vipassana Dhammatali center for Meditation.

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