After our tour of the Amber Fort, we made a quick stop to see the Jal Mahal (Water Palace). The palace is located in the middle of Man Sagar Lake and is not open to visitors. So we enjoyed the view from land and then went about our day.
Next, we moved on to the center of Jaipur, the City Palace. Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II moved his throne from the Amber Palace (actually located in Amer, 11 km outside of Jaipur) to continue his rule in the heart of Jaipur. The royal flag can still be seen flying above the Chandra Mahal. This seven story building was the royal residence within the palace grounds.
According to Wikipedia, the maharaja made the switch from Amer to Jaipur because of an increasing population and increasing water shortage. However, according to our tour guide, the maharaja was compelled to build a new palace because his new wife didn’t want to live in the palace of his former wife. Both valid reasons, if you ask me.
Most of Old Jaipur was constructed of red and pink sandstone, hence its’ name, The Pink City. However, a subsequent ruler actually painted Jaipur pink to welcome Prince Edward VII and Queen Victoria. I don’t really see the connection there, but regardless, Jaipur will forever be known as the Pink City.
One of the most recognized buildings in Jaipur is the Hawa Mahal. This five story, honeycomb-like façade has 953 small windows decorated with intricate latticework. The purpose of the lattice was to act as a screen so royal ladies could observe the street below without being seen. The lattice also allowed cool air to flow into the building, giving it its’ name, Palace of the Winds.
I thought we were going to be able to go inside the Hawa Mahal, but our tour guide told us there is actually nothing to see inside. He told us the Hawa Mahal is just a bunch of government offices at present. But I think he pulled one over on us in an attempt to end our tour sooner, rather than later. I later learned that tourists can enter the Hawa Mahal from the rear of the building for a fee of 50 rupees (<$1). It might be true that it is now just office space, but apparently visitors can go to the top of the palace for a panoramic view of the city.
Tip for future tourists in India: If you want to see something during your tour, don’t let your tour guide sway you or talk you out of it. Do your research! Tour Guide: 1 – Dayna: 0.