Jaipur is the capital of the Rajasthan (land of kings) state in India, and the name truly fits, as Jaipur is full to the brim of palaces and forts, each beautiful in its own unique way. The city’s founder in 1727, Jai Singh II, was a Hindu man, but he was loyal to his Mughal Sultan Muhammad Shah. For his loyal service to his emperor, he was given kingship and land- Jaipur. The city is very much a picture of the society it was built in. It is doubtlessly Hindu while exhibiting very clear Islamic architectural influences.
Some people call Jaipur the “Paris of India”, we prefer the “Alhambra of Rajasthan”.
1. Hawa Mahal
The Palace of the Winds is named thus because the many windows allow for cool breezes to keep the interior perpetually cozy. The original purpose of the palace’s beehive of windows was to allow women of noble birth to see what’s going on in the street without being seen.
2. Hawa Mahal, interior
3. Jal Mahal
Our second palace is the mysterious Jal Mahal, located entirely within a lake. Sadly, this unique island palace is inaccessible to visitors, but you can always take a picture from afar.
4. Amer Fort
Technically in the neighboring town of Amer, it is a very short distance from Jaipur, and well worth the trip. There are elephant rides up the ramparts, but we suggest walking up to the fort on foot.
5. Amer Fort entrance
The gate is a shining example of Jaipur architecture. The geometry, the floral designs, the arches- it all screams Islamic architecture, but right over the door sits Lord Ganesha. Not quite an Islamic motif, to say the least.
6. Amer Fort gardens
And don’t, whatever you do, miss a visit to the fort’s beautiful garden.
7. Gaitore Ki Chhatriyan
The Gaitore are cenotaphs, or empty crypts. Since it is Hindu custom to cremate the dead, these buildings stand as a monument to the departed, rather than a grave marker.
8. The Gaitore
9. City Palace
This red palatial compound is as old as the city itself, and was the seat of power for the king of Jaipur up until 1949, when Jaipur joined the union of India. Within can be found a museum to Jaipur’s last maharaja and it still houses the Jaipur royal family.
10. City Palace courtyard
11. View from the Hall of Private Audience, City Palace
12. Jaigarh Fort
For all of its parapets and turrets, it seems the regional ruler did not trust Amer Fort to withstand an attack, and so they built Jaigarh fort to watch over it. Jaigarh also has the unique honor of being one of the biggest cannon foundries in the early modern era.
13. Jaigarh Fort garden
14. View from Jaigarh Fort’s battlements
15. Albert Hall Museum
The oldest museum in Rajasthan is a sight to behold, even from outside. Within is an unbelievable collection of beautiful Indian artifacts, from ornate ceremonial weapons, to intricate pieces of jewelry and beautiful marble statuettes.
16. The Albert Hall at night
17. Jantar Mantar
Does this playground look strange? That’s because it’s no playground, at all! This is an astronomical observatory, constructed upon Jai Singh II’s express wishes.
18. Birla Mandir Hindu temple
This white marble beauty is truly unique, with incredibly detailed engravings on its marble columns and arches.