Nicknamed the ‘Pink City’, the largest city in Rajasthan is famous for its urban quarters, broad streets, and dazzling architecture. From its majestic palaces to the glorious temples and more, Jaipur offers a mix of art, tradition and excitement rolled into one amazing holiday destination.
It’s no wonder then that this stunning city was inducted recently into UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites for fulfilling three of the 10 criteria set by the World Heritage Committee. Here are out Top 10 picks of must-see architectural wonders in this amazing new World Heritage Site:
1. Hawa Mahal
Also known as ‘Palace of Winds’, Hawa Mahal is a five-storey palace that is uniquely built into the shape of the crown of the Hindu god, Krishna. Constructed mostly in red and pink sandstone, its intricately carved jharokhas (stone windows) can be seen jutting out from the strikingly blushed façade, making it impossible for anyone to miss.
2. Jaipur City Palace
Located in the heart of Jaipur, the majestic Jaipur City Palace offers a stunning view of the Pink City. The outer walls of the palace were built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II between 1729 and 1732, while other structures were later added by the successors. As an outcome, the designs were largely based on Rajput, Mughal and European architectures.
3. Nahargarh Fort
The rustic and stunning Nahargarh Fort – the “abode of tigers” – was originally built to be a royal retreat by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II in 1734. Perched atop the rugged terrain of the Aravalli Hill, it is best visited in the late afternoon as you get to explore the complex and marvel at the breathtaking sunset after.
4. Jal Mahal
This sand-coloured stunner looks like a floating palace on the man-made Man Sagar Lake. Originally built by Maharaja Madho Singh in 1750 for his duck-hunting trips, it has not been in used since at least the past hundred years. The whole building is five stories high, but only the top floor is visible as the rest are dramatically submerged in water. Whilst tourist gondola rides around the lake have been discontinued, visitors can still marvel at the beauty of Jal Mahal from an observation deck across the lake.
5. Jawahar Kala Kendra
Affectionately called JKK by the locals, Jawahar Kala Kendra’s ingenious planning was based upon the Navgraha (nine planets in our solar system) concept of Indian astronomy. Each section of the building reflects the characteristics of a particular planet, alongside its astrological values and functionalities. Designed by renowned architect and urban planner Charles Correa, the complex was opened in 1993 to serve as a cultural hub promoting the arts and crafts of Rajasthan, and currently hosts workshops, music and dance recitals, theatre shows, as well as art exhibitions.
6. Amber Fort
Pronounced as ‘Amer’, Amber Fort is one of the most popular forts in Rajasthan and is highly praised for its artistic design, blending both Hindu and Rajput elements together. The fort was meticulously built with red sandstone and marble, with scenic views of the beautiful Maota Lake at its forefront.
7. Jantar Mantar
Built in the early 18th century by Sawai Jai Singh, Jantar Mantar provides an interesting look at innovations in astronomy instruments and facilities. Among the many compelling instruments to check out here are the Brihat Smarat (one of the world’s largest sundials), the Jai Prakash (a sundial made of two hemispherical bowls), as well as the Great Ram (a double-cylinder instrument).
8. Galta Ji
Located 10 kilometres to the east of Jaipur, Galta Ji makes for a fun half-day excursion from the city. The temple is built around a natural spring that is also channelled to seven sacred kunds (pools), where pilgrims come to bathe away their sins. Also known as the ‘Monkey Temple’ due to the huge number of macaque and langur monkeys that inhabit the area, the temple is actually dedicated to Hindu god Ganesha.
9. Albert Hall Museum
This masterpiece ensconced within the pretty Ram Niwas Garden was visualised to welcome then Prince of Wales, Prince Albert Edward, who came to lay the first foundation stone of the building in 1876. Originally constructed as a concert hall, it was completed in 1887 as Albert Hall Museum, housing an impressive collection of ancient sculptures, ceramics, armoury, and even an Egyptian mummy from the Ptolemaic Kingdom. The building’s Indo-Saracenic architectural details such as onion-shaped domes, open pavilions, pointed arches, minarets, and harem windows are certainly a delight to photograph.
10. Shiv Vilas Resort
You don’t have to actually be a King in order to experience life like a royalty; you just need to make your way to Shiv Vilas Resort, one of the most opulent hotels in Jaipur. This palace-themed resort features lavish rooms, an all-marble private swimming pool, as well as a grand reception hall that looks like it belongs in a Wes Anderson movie.
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