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Maharajas' Express Train Jaipur Tour

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Jaipur is named after its founder, the warrior and astronomer sovereign, Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh (ruled 1688 to 1744). The decision to move out of his hilltop capital Amer was also compelled by reasons of growing population and paucity of water. Moreover in the early 17th century the power of the great Mughals was dwindling with its aging Monarch Aurangzeb. After several centuries of invasions the north was now quiet and the wealth of the kingdom had considerably increased. Seizing upon this opportune time, Jai Singh planned his new capital in the plains. Jaipur is a corroborative evidence of Sawai Jai Singh's strong grounding in science and astrology and of a Bengali architect Vidyadhar with a strong instinct for planning.

Jaipur is 260 km from Delhi and 240 km from Agra and forms the golden triangle of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. It a bustling capital city and a business centre with all the trappings of a modern metropolis but yet flavoured strongly with an age-old charm that never fails to surprise a traveller. The old Jaipur painted in Pink can grip any visitor with admiration. Stunning backdrop of ancient forts: Nahargarh, Amer, Jaigarh and Moti Doongari are apt testimonials of the bygone era and a reminder of their lingering romance and chivalry.

Amber palace

Amber (pronounced Amer) is situated about 11 kilometres from Jaipur and was the ancient citadel of the ruling Kachwahas of Amber, before the capital was shifted to the plains, the present day Jaipur.

The Amber Fort set in picturesque and rugged hills is a fascinating blend of Hindu and Mughal architecture. Constructed by Raja Man Singh I in 1592 and completed by Mirja Raja Jai Singh the fort was made in red sand stone and white marble. The rugged forbidding exterior belies an inner paradise with a beautiful fusion of art and architecture. Amber is the classic and romantic fort-palace with a magnificent aura. The interior wall of the palace depicts expressive painting scenes with carvings, precious stones and mirror settings. In the foreground is the Maota Lake providing a breathtaking vista. Built mainly for the warring enemies as a safe place, the heavily structured walls could defend the residents within the ramparts of the fort.

All means of survival and luxuries for the royal families and the people who were concerned with the functioning of this small kingdom of the Kachhawas were well provided. The Rajputs who had apparently won a small structure passed on by Meena tribes, later on renovated it into the grand Amber Fort. Holding a history as old as seven centuries, this place vibrates with its legendary past. Although many of the early structures have been literally ruined but at the same time, those dating from 16th century onwards are remarkably well preserved by sincere efforts. .

Albert hall

Located just outside the walled city is the sprawling Ram Niwas garden, which has always been a place for recreational activities since the reign of Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh. This exquisitely designed garden with four sentry doors and a huge complex with small pools and fountains, flourishing lawns and beautiful flower beds all around was basically a famine relief project. It was designed by Sir Swinton Jacob, a British architect who designed many palaces in Rajasthan. Combining the elements of English and north Indian architecture, it was known as the pride of the New Jaipur when it opened in 1887 AD. it is a very well maintained and impressive building displaying a rich collection of artefacts like paintings, carpets, ivory, stone, metal sculptures, colourful crystal works etc .

City palace

Located in the heart of the walled city, the City Palace Complex gives you an idea about the farsightedness of the founder of Jaipur Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh. He left behind a legacy of some of the most imposing and magnificent architecture in the city. Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh built many buildings but some of the structures were also built by later rulers. The palace is a blend of Mughal and Rajput architecture and the ex-royal family still lives in a part of the palace.

On entering the complex and before the proper palace lies the Mubarak Mahal, the palace of welcome or reception. Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh built the palace in the nineteenth century. It was used as a reception centre for the visiting personage. The building now forms the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum and on display here are a wide array of royal costumes, some very exquisite and precious Pashmina (Kashmiri) shawls, Benaras silk saris, Sanganeri prints and folk embroidery. An unusual display is that of voluminous clothes worn by Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh I (ruled 1750-68).

The Maharani's Palace, the palace of the Queen paradoxically puts on a display of the Rajput weaponry. The inestimable collections of weapons date back to even 15th century and are in a remarkable state of preservation. Remarkable amongst them is scissor-action dagger. This deadly weapon were so designed that the handles were released to spread the blades when thrust into bodies. The dagger was then withdrawn fatally tearing limb to limb of the body of the hapless victim. Other exhibits include protective chain armours, pistols, jewelled and ivory handled swords, a belt sword, small and assorted cannons, guns, poison tipped blades and gun powder pouches. The frescoes on the ceiling are amazing and well preserved.
The art gallery is located in the Diwan-I-Aam, which literally means the hall of public audience. The exhibits here include some very precious and ancient handwritten original manuscripts of Hindu scriptures. Particularly intriguing are miniature copies of Bhagwat Gita made in such a manner that it could be protected from Emperor Aurangzeb's onslaught on Hindu scriptures. Some delicate miniature paintings pertaining to Rajasthani, Mughal and Persian schools on various themes including the Ramayana are engrossing displays. Visitors must take a good look at the preserved painted ceilings. Also on display are elephant saddles called "haudha".

Between the armoury museum and the art gallery is the Diwan-E-Khas meaning hall of private or selective audience. This is a marble paved pavilion and puts on display the world's largest sterling silver objects, two gigantic silver vessels. These vessels were made for Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh II, who filled these vessels with holy Ganga water and took them along with him during his journey abroad. The idea was to drink exclusively the water from the river Ganga. The Guinness Book of Records declared the silver vessels as the biggest silver objects in the world. The ceiling also has large chandeliers, which are mostly protected by dust covers and opened only for festive occasions.
The Chandra Mahal Palace is still occupied by the ex-royal family but visitors can visit the ground floor where some exhibits are on display. A visit here is worthwhile for the exquisite Peacock gate in the courtyard outside.

The present day royal family that takes charge of the museum has done exceptionally well in preserving and maintaining this legacy for presentation to visitors. A visit to the palace is both interesting and enlightening. .

Hawa mahal

The poet king Sawai Pratap Singh built this palace of winds. This is easily the most well-known landmarks of Jaipur and is also its icon. Located in the City Palace complex, it is best viewed from the road outside. This five-storey building overlooking the busy bazaar street is a fascinating example of Rajput architecture and artistry with its delicately honeycombed 953 pink sandstone windows known as 'jharokhas'. It was originally built for the ladies of the royal household to watch everyday life and processions in the city from their veiled comfort. Most people come here to get a view of the facade but they can also climb to the top for a wonderful view from the latticed windows. There is also a small archaeological museum there. .

Jaigarh fort

The Jaigarh fort is the most spectacular of the three-hilltop forts that overlook Jaipur. In Mughal times, the Jaipur region was a major weapon-producing centre for the Mughal and Rajput rulers, several of the weapons being on display in the fort's museum. It is one of the few military structures of medieval India preserved almost intact, containing palaces, a granary, a well-planned cannon foundry, several temples, a tall tower and giant mounted cannon-the Jai Ban (Jaivan) which is the largest cannon on wheels in the world. Jaigarh Fort is also known as the fort of victory. The display includes a collection of canons, many of which are exquisitely decorated and were used in the Mughal campaigns led by the Rajput King, Raja Man Singh. .

Nahargarh fort

Nahargarh Fort is located on the rugged ridge of Aravali Hills and it forms an impressive northern backdrop of Jaipur. It looks most classy when floodlit at night. The fort overlooks the city and presents a glittering view of the city lights. It was built in 1734 and extended in 1868. Nahargarh meaning abode of the tigers was built by Jai Singh to bolster the defence of Amber. The legend has it that it was named Nahargarh after Nahar Singh, a prince whose spirit would destroy the construction and stall its progress. So after a tantrik invoked the spirit, it agreed to withdraw on condition that the fort would be named after him. The Madhavendra Bhawan, built by Sawai Madho Singh has a unique cluster of 12 identical suites for queens and at the head is a suite for the king himself. The rooms are linked by corridors and retain some delicate frescoes as well as toilets and kitchen hearths. It was used by members of the royal family for excursion in summers and is even now a favoured picnic spot. Durg Cafeteria just above the entrance sells meals and refreshments, while Padao Restaurant on the west sells drinks around sunset.

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