Popularly known as the ‘Pink City’, Jaipur, situated in the district of Jaipur in the north Indian state of Rajasthan, forms one point of the Golden Triangle of the tourism industry along with Delhi and Agra. Founded by the great astronomer king Sawai Jai Singh, and designed by the brilliant architect Vidyadhar, this is the first planned city in India. The very name Jaipur conjures up visions of magnificent palaces, heroic Rajputs and well manicured gardens and bustling streets thronged by colorfully attired people and shops bursting with intricately designed jewellery, precious stones, leather goods, pottery tie-dye fabrics, with the mighty desert in the background. Jaipur is so rich in tradition and history that it would take more than a couple of days to see and savour its beauties which are best explored on foot. Built according to the rules of Shilpa Shastra, Jaipur follows a grid system with a fortified wall around the city with seven gates for protection against enemies. The Palace complex which occupies a large part of the walled city is easily an important landmark housing the seven storied Chandra Mahal, Mubarak Mahal, the Diwan-i-Am and the Diwan-i-Khas along with many outbuildings, spacious courtyards, well laid out gardens and temples. Mubarak Mahal, formerly the reception hall of the kings is now a museum containing a rare collection of arms, costumes, paintings etc., The Diwan-i-Khas, a marble-paved pavilion, has on display a pair of pure silver containers which Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh II used to carry water from the river Ganges when he was on a trip to England and which are said to be the largest of its kind in the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Hawa Mahal or the palace of Winds built by Sawai Pratap Singh in 1799 is a magnificent structure in pink sandstone resembling a honey comb. This five storied pyramid shaped structure with 953 perforated windows or ‘Jharokhas’ overlooks the main street and was built for queens to observe the activities in the streets discreetly. The Hawa Mahal provides some excellent views of the city. Chandra Mahal, where the family of Maharajah Bhavani Singh still resides, is a splendid seven storied palace, with the ground and first floors used as Museum, housing a breath taking selection of jewelry, carpets and weapons.  Jantar Mantar, the observatory built by Sawai Jai Singh II is one of the largest and best preserved observatories in India. A complex collection of astonishingly precise astronomical instruments made of stone which continue to provide fairly accurate information even today is a remarkable feature of this observatory.

Jal Mahal or Water palace built in the middle of the picturesque Mansagar Lake with the Nahargarh hills forming a backdrop, is a five-storey palace with the first four floors being submerged under water. It was formerly used for royal duck shooting parties. Jaipur is famed for its well laid out gardens which offer greenery in the midst of the sands of the desert. The Sisodia Rani ka Bagh, built by Sawai Jai Singh for his second wife in the Mughal style is replete with pavilions, galleries, beautiful murals and sparkling pools. The newly restored Talkatora and Jai Niwas gardens are also well worth a visit. Ram Niwas Bagh, built in the nineteenth century as a famine relief project by Maharaja Ram Singh comprises a zoo, aviary, herbarium, museum and a sports complex. The Albert Hall or the Government  Central Museum designed by Sir Swintin Jacob is located in the middle of the garden houses a wide and impressive collection of paintings, carpets, stone and metal sculpture.

There are a number of forts in Jaipur which reveal the care and foresight of its rulers about the security of the land. Jaigar Fort also known as ‘Victory Fort’ is situated on top of a hill named Cheel Ka Teela or hill of the Eagles comprising several palaces, granary, several temples and a well-planned cannon foundry. This fort used to supply the artillery for the Rajputs. The fort houses the largest cannon in the world named Jaivan. The Amber Fort, also known as Amer, is located in Amber, the erstwhile capital of the Kachhwaha clan. This impressive fort, built in white marble and red sand stone has a rough and rugged appearance which belies the magnificent interior. Situated beside The Maotha Lake, the reflection of the fort on the still waters of the lake is quite entrancing. The Kali temple also known as Shila Devi Temple forms part of the Fort and has exquisite silver doors and silver lions. The Nahargarh or the Tiger Fort built in 1734 served as a personal royal treasury and a retreat for the queens. Standing high on the Aravati range, it offers a stunning panoramic view of the city spread out below. The most remarkable building inside the fort is the Madhavendra Bhawan with nine identical suites for the king’s nine queens.

One of the most dazzling cities in India, Jaipur which is redolent of history and heroism and sheer poetry in architecture is a must-see travel destination.