City SundayTravel Expeditions

Mystique of India –16: City Palace and Jantar Mantar

The City Palace

City Palace is yet another important tourist destination in Jaipur. Apart from its regal architecture, the palace offers a stunning view of the Pink City and also an insight into the rich heritage of a bygone era.   The history of the palace is closely linked with the history of Jaipur city itself. The palace was developed as a part of Jaipur city, planned by Vidyadhar Bhattacharya.  It was built between 1729 and 1932 by Raja Sawai Jai Singh the second. While ruling from Amer he built the outer walls of the palace and the later rulers further added to the architecture of this palace. The architectural style is the fusion of Rajput, Mughal and European styles. The palace is flanked by Hawa Mahal on one side and Jantar Mantar on the other.  The entire palace is a complex of several palaces, pavilions, gardens and temples. The most prominent and most visited structures in the complex are Chandra Mahal and Mubarak Mahal,.

Chandra Mahal

Chandra Mahal or Chandra Niwas is the most commanding building in the City Palace. It is a seven storied building and each floor has been given a specific name, such as Sukh Niwas, Ranga Mandir, Pitam Niwas, Chabi Niwas, Shri Niwas and Mukut Mandir or Mukut Mahal. It contains many unique paintings, mirror work and floral decorations on the walls. At present, most of this palace is the residence of the descendents of the former rulers of Jaipur. Only the ground floor which also houses a museum is allowed for visitors. The Museum displays carpets, manuscripts and other items of the bygone royal era. There is a beautiful peacock gate at the entry to the Mahal. It has screened balconies and a  pavilion which allows a panoramic view of the city.

Pritam Niwas, (courtyard ) of city palace

Mubarak Mahal

Mubarak Mahal, meaning the ‘Auspicious Palace”, was built with a fusion of Islamic, Rajput and European styles in the late 19th century by Maharaja Madho Singh II as a reception centre. It is a museum of Maharaja Sawai Man Sigh II which treasures a fine repository of variety of textiles, comprising the royal formal costumes, Snaganeri block prints, embroidered shawls, Kashmiri Pashminas and Silk Saris. Two huge silver water pitchers placed in glass show cases were said to have been used to carry water from River Ganga whenever Maharaja went abroad. A noteworthy display here is of the set of voluminous clothes worn by Sawai Madho Singh I, who was 1.2 meters (3.9ft) wide and weighed 250 kilograms (550 lb), but interestingly had 108 wives!!!

Sliver Pitcher for Ganga Water

Root of – Sawai

Emperor Aurangzeb is said to have attended the wedding of Jai Singh, and shook hands with the young groom and wished him well on his marriage. On this occasion, Jai Singh is said to have made an irreverent remark to the Emperor stating that the way he had shaken hands with him made it incumbent on the Emperor to protect Jai Singh and his kingdom. Aurangzeb, instead of responding in indignation at the quip, is said to have felt pleased and conferred on the young Jai Singh the title of “Sawai”, which meant “ One and Quarter”. Since then, it is said, the Maharajas have pre-fixed their names with this title, and fly one and quarter size flag atop their palace during their residence.

Jantar Mantar

The monument called Jantar Mantar, built by Sawai Jai Singh and completed in 1734, is a collection of nineteen architectural astronomical instruments. It is built from local stone and marble. Each instrument carries an astronomical scale, generally marked on the marble inner lining. Bronze tablets, bricks and mortar were also employed in building the instruments in the monument. Jantar Mantar is spread over an area of about 18,700 square meters. The monument exemplifies architectural innovations of ancient India. It is claimed that this observatory is an example of the Ptolemaic positional astronomy which was shared by many civilizations.

Bird’s View of Jantar Mantar complex

The monument features instruments operating in each of the three main classical celestial coordinate systems: the horizon-zenith local system, the equatorial system and the ecliptic system. The Kapala Yantraprakara is the one that works in two systems and follows transformation of the coordinates directly from one system to the other. The monument was said to have been damaged in the 19th century. The restoration work was undertaken by Major Arthur Garrett, a keen amateur astronomer of the time in 1902. Today Jantar Mantar is acknowledged as the world’s largest Sun Dial and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Albert Hall Museum

Albert Hall Museum is yet another place worth visiting in Jaipur. It is the oldest museum of the state. The building is constructed in Indo-Saracen architecture by Sir.Samuel Swinton Jacob. Its foundation stone was laid in 1876 as a memorial to the visit of King Edward VII as Prince of Wales. The building is situated in Ram Niwas Garden, which itself is a place of tourist attraction.  We found the museum very rich in terms of artifacts like paintings, carpets, ivory, stone, metal sculptures, colorful crystal works etc.  No tourist can miss to visit this Musuem.

One of the measuring instruments in Jantar mantar

Birla Mandir

Birla Mandir is located at the foot hill of Moti Dungri Fort. This is yet another attraction for the tourists visiting Jaipur. The architecture of this temple is stunning. It is constructed with the finest quality of white marble. The three huge domes of the temple represent three different approaches to religion. Stained glass windows depict the scenes from Hindu scriptures. The image of Ganesh, the protector, is above the lintel, the images of Lakshmi and Narayan made from one piece of marble draw special tourist attention. The outside walls of the temple display great historical personages and figures like Socrates, Zarathustra, Christ, Buddha, and Confucius and thereby an amalgamation of all major religions. Lush green garden surrounding the building further enhance its beauty and render the huge number of tourists awestruck.

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