In the pink of good things

Jaipur appeals to everyone; for it celebrates and respects traditions while giving new its due, writes Garima Verma

Hawa Mahal. (PHOTOS BY AUTHOR)

Jaipur is somewhat special. There is something different in its air. It is not breathless and hurried like a metro. Nor is it sleepy like a small town. Its mornings celebrate the rustic chai and lassi with as much love as the gourmet omelettes and French breads. Its bazaars don’t feel threatened by the presence of malls and their status-defining brands. While many might be struggling to find that balance between old and new, it’s impressive how this city balances the equation so effortlessly.

Its forts and palaces sing the songs of a bygone era yet open their doors for new tunes. The 17th-century Amber Fort has been a witness to everything, even the birth of the first planned city of the country below a century later. A beautiful melange of Hindu and Mughal styles of architecture, the sheer magnificence that it possesses could make anyone imagine the illustrious past. Its setting among the hills give it a majestic look and spell-binding carvings in red sandstone and marble inside keep you in awe. So does the imposing citadel of Jaigarh Fort not too far above and its history. Believed to have been the strongest of the three forts and never conquered in the battles, it rightly boasts of the world’s largest cannon — the Jaiban. Legend has it that it was test fired only once but the exercise had shook the whole area enough to inspire many versions of its legend, some outright doubtful and some sounding convincing enough.

Amber Fort
Amber Fort

 

The nearby Nahargarh Fort is not only smaller but unlike the military prowess of the other two, it is more apt for inspiring romanticism. Madhavendra Bhawan served as the summer retreat of the royal family. With its interconnected corridors no less than a maze, it is still a favourite picnic spot not only for humans, but monkeys too. The latter’s favourite place is, however, Galtaji. Located among low hills in a mountain pass, its temples, pavilions, natural springs and sacred kunds (water tanks) are a picture of ultimate tranquillity. But the chattering and warring groups of monkeys never let it be. The Ramgopalji temple complex, popular as the monkey temple, is their preferred hangout place.

The winged creatures, though, have a liking for the Albert Hall Museum. At any time of the day, scores of pigeons can be seen either taking flights of fancy over its beautiful domes or having their fill at the front precincts of the exquisite Indo-Sarcenic structure. While the night brings with it the floodlit versions of many landmarks in the Pink City, this one outside the city gates, housing an admirable collection of artefacts, coins from various dynasty, and even an Egyptian mummy, is a vision unmatched. Be it the mix of pastels, bright colours or synchronised lights during an event, there would hardly be a colour that is repulsive to its form.

A view from the ramparts of the Nahargarh Fort.
A view from the ramparts of the Nahargarh Fort.

Iconic

The famous Hawa Mahal’s windows too, though go unnoticed during the day beyond their functionality, shine like coloured gems at night. The unique five-storey structure boasts of over 950 jharokhas or small latticed windows which not only allowed the royal women to observe the daily life in the streets without being seen, but also served as natural air-conditioners giving much-needed respite in hot summer days. An iconic picture in pink sandstone in the day, many would prefer to capture its beauty highlighted by the coloured glass windows in the light.

The City Palace, on the other hand, is above any preferences and easily attracts all, irrespective of the sun and moon. The vast complex, once occupying one-seventh of the city, boasts of several impressive courtyards, gardens and buildings. Again, a fusion of prevalent forms of architecture of those times, its carved arches and marble columns with motifs may have lost some sheen but have retained the splendour. While one part of the palace is still home to the erstwhile royal family of Jaipur, Mubarak Mahal is the flag-bearer of confluence. For, after the visitors are done admiring the past, it hosts the present with equal warmth in the form of rock concerts, fashion shows, marathons, food stalls and more. If the sun setting in the hills lending a touch of fiery scarlet to its regal pink captivates you instantly, the night livens up and inspires you to celebrate the charm further.

A similar role seems to have fallen upon Clarks Amer too by the virtue of being the oldest five-star property in the city. Keeping traditions alive amid the embrace of new-age amenities, it showcases and celebrates both ends of the equation quite easily. If its Dhola Maru takes you back in time with its ambience and food, the next-door open air Ta Blu is the go-to place for lively musical evenings and night parties. And, once the weather has taken a pleasant turn, such evenings and nights of revelry become a common fixture of the whole of Jaipur. It, however, doesn’t fail to go beyond the merriment and strike a chord among the lovers of the word.

The Jaipur Literary Fest is among the biggest such shows in the world. Every January it not only attracts the most celebrated authors from across the globe but scores of students and enthusiasts too. For, where else would you find such a wonderful and cohesive mix of old and new, grandeur, history, opulence, unmatched hospitality, delectable food and colours!

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In the pink of good things

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