The pink city Jaipur is a very colorful city and the list of things to do and see here is very long. Besides things, that can be seen anytime in the year, my Jaipur tour had an added attraction…the Kite Festival. Since 14th of January 2012 was Saturday so I planned an extended weekend tour of the city to also attend the famous kite festival. With two of my friend I left around 12 at noon from Delhi in my car. Either it was a bad day for us or thanks to the road condition of NH8 it took us 8 hour to reach Jaipur with a brief halt of half an hour for refreshment.
One of the friend’s relatives stays at Jaipur in some Govt. colony which was near to Birla Garden and we had planned to stay there. So we directly went there had dinner and call off the day for next day venture.
It was decided to first witnessed the kite festival at Jal Mahal and then to cover the forts of Jaipur.
Jal Mahal is a palace located in the middle of the Man Sagar Lake in Jaipur. The lake palace is surrounded by Aravali hills.
It is a combination of Mughal and Rajput style of architecture which is pretty common in Rajasthan. Jal Mahal is known for its majestic architecture and sophisticated design. This palace was built by Sawai Pratap Singh in 1799 AD. I heard from locales that soon it is going to be converted into a luxurious hotel.
Back to kite festival, it was splendid cultural extravaganza. The venue was packed with Indian and foreign tourist and locals alike. There was a sense of excitement on every face.
The land and sky was filled with colors. Colorful kites were floating in the sky and crowd was cheering on every move.
There was a famous kite master of Jaipur; Babu Khan. He must be some kind of previous champion because he was alone getting 50% attention of media and tourists and also flying the longest chain of kites.
- The kite master Babu Khan
Then started the cultural and dance program. Without any effort one can easily notice the way people of Rajasthan dress themselves, especially the ladies. It was extremely colorful coupled with bangles and ornaments.
Like me everybody wanted to have the share of these unforgettable moments.
At Jal Mahal parking was free and guides were available for as low as 50 Rs. These guides have arrangement with local shopkeepers. They persuade tourist to buy footwear and cloths. We hired a guide; he took us to some shop, since we were not interested in wasting time in shopping so within few minutes we asked to proceed for next monument that was Kanak garden near to Jal Mahal. He told us that he will wait outside and we went to explore the monument. When we came back he had already left without taking any money. I guess the guide charges are not enough for them and they largely depends on the commission that they earned from shopkeepers.
Now it was the time to conquer the fort and I mean it because of its steep height. So we moved towards our next destination that was Nahargarh fort.
Jaipur is one of the well planned cities in India. The roads are wide and sparsely inhabited. Though I can’t compare it with madness of Delhi traffic but it was quite eye pleasing to see well paved tar where you can drive at a maximum speed of 60 kmph. Yes it is true the maximum speed limit is 10 kmph more in Jaipur than Delhi.
Right from Jal Mahal, the era of royalty begins.
There are three forts in Jaipur: Amer or Amber Fort, Jaigarh and Narhargarh. Amer Fort was used not only as a defense system from intruders but also served as main residence for the Kachawas rulers.
The fort was no longer used by the royal family. This fort was served as Jaipur’s former capital and reminds about Jaipur’s past glory.
Jaigarh was mainly used as a defense system against invaders and also secured the famous Kachawas treasury. Jaigarh Fort is one of the few forts in India which stands completely intact. It is known for its extensive walls, watch towers, and many citadels. During the emergency period in India, excavations were made in Jaigarh Fort to find any hidden treasures. However, the excavations were unsuccessful, but signs of the excavations are still visible today.
Jaivan (Victory Canon) is lies in Jaigarh Fort. It is said to be largest moving canon in Asia. This canon was never used in war and was fired only once.
Nahargarh was mostly used as a residence by the Kachawas rulers, especially by the maharanis during the hot summer months. Nahargarh is located on a mountain top behind the City Palace of Jaipur.
It is said that there was a secret passage between the Nahargarh and the City Palace so in case of attacks the maharaja and the royal family could escape to the fort.
The Kachawas Rajputs were descendent of Sun, following the dynasty of Lord Rama through Kush, one of his sons. The Kachawas Rajputs originally ruled Gwalior in central India. After the king Ishwar Das, his sons were forced to flee Gwalior, and found solace in Rajputana. Ishwar Das’s son Sodh Rai conquered the area of Dausa by attacking and killing the Mina chiefs (tribal chiefs). After this conquest the Kachawas Rajputs were known as the Rajas of Dausa, and when the capital of the Kachawas kingdom was moved to Amber they were known as the Rajas of Amber. Finally in the 18th century the capital of the kingdom was moved to Jaipur and the Rajas of Amber became the Maharajas of Jaipur. The Maharaja of Jaipur is the titular head of the Kachawas Rajput clan.
We had a great time visiting these forts. A part of Nahargarh fort is converted into an open restaurant. It is an ideal place to sit lazily in winter days and to have some beer with pakodas, as we did. It was a herculean task to cover all the forts in a single day but we did so. So, it was time to give ourselves some treat and what could be the better place than Chokhi Dhani. That was our next destination.