- India's Pink City, Jaisalmer and Bikaner - The
: India's Pink City
popularly known as the 'Pink City', was
founded in 1727 AD by one of the greatest rulers
of the Kachhawaha clan, the astronomer king Sawai
Jai Singh. The pink color was used at the time
to create an impression of red sandstone buildings
of Mughal cities. The entire city was repainted
in 1876, during the visit of the Prince of Wales.
The city is best explored on foot and the adventurous
visitor willing to go into the inner lanes can
discover a whole new world not visible to the
tourist-in-a-hurry. Jaipur is barely 262 kilometers
from New Delhi, and is well connected by road,
rail and air.
of interest are mainly located within the walled
city. The City Palace complex is the most important
landmark with its numerous outbuildings, courtyards,
impressive gateways and temples. Across the road
from the palace is the Jantar Mantar, one
of the five observatories built by Sawai Jai Singh.
A collection of complex astronomical instruments,
chiseled out of stone - most of which continue
to provide accurate information to this day -
is the highlight of this observatory.
Mahal : Palace of Winds
Mahal:(Palace of Winds) adjoins the
outside of the palace wall. Built in 1799
by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh, the Hawa
Mahal is a remarkable structure, which overlooks
one of the main streets and also provides
an excellent view of the city. In the not-too-distant
past, ladies of the court found it convenient
to watch the activities on the streets below
without being observed themselves.
just outside the walled city is the sprawling
Ram Niwas Garden. The garden houses
the majestic Albert Hall Museum.
Opened in 1887 AD, this impressive building
displays a rich collection of paintings,
carpets, ivory, stone and metal sculpture
among other objects.
forts, though built at different periods, are so
located that they seem to be stringed together.
Set in a picturesque location, Amer is a fascinating
blend of Hindu and Mughal architecture. Built
in the 16th century by Raja Man Singh, it sprawls
on the hillside. Built with red sandstone and
white marble, the palace complex has some very
interesting apartments, the likes of which are
not to be found anywhere else in the country.
Jai Mandir, Sheesh Mahal, Sukh Niwas and Ganesh
Pole are the prominent areas of interest. The
old township of Amer lies at the foothills of
the palace and has an Old World charm, a character
of its own. Jagat Shiromani Temple and the Narsingh
Temple are some of the places of interest.
Jaigarh, or the Fort of Victory, is a rugged fort
built in 1726. The world's largest cannon on wheels
is to be found here. The fort houses a museum
and provides some excellent views of the Amer
It is the first of the three forts. Built in 1734,
this fort provides some stunning views of the
city down below both during daytime and at night.
An open-air restaurant-"PADAO" lets
you enjoy the panoramic view of the city even
as you sip a hot cup of coffee on a pleasant evening!
is a shopper's paradise. This is one of the few
places where the shoppers may actually watch the
skilled artisans producing the articles they want
: The Golden Fortress
is the shimmering golden mirage deep
in the heart of Thar Desert. This formidable
double walled citade, deep within the desert
has withstood the ambition of many a conqueror.
Here the sunsets have a distinctively majestic
the night gradually descends, the sky goes up
in flames, which then fade leaving a few embers,
till it becomes utterly dark. A breathtaking sight
commanding fort etched in yellow sandstone stands
with its entire splendor, dominating the amber-hued
city. Think about it! Nikkis will take you there.
This is the Warrior State of India.
fortress city of Jaisalmer has a fascinating legend
associated with it, according to which, Lord Krishna-the
head of the Yadav Clan, foretold Arjuna that a
remote descendent of the Yadav Clan would build
his kingdom atop the Trikuta Hill. His prophecy
was fulfilled in 1156 A.D. when Rawal Jaisal,
a descendent of the Yadav Clan and a Bhatti Rajput,
abandoned his fort at Lodurva and founded
a new capital - Jaisalmer, perched on the Trikuta
Hill. The Bahti Rajputs of Jaisalmer were feudal
chiefs (Robber barons) who lived off the
forced levy on the caravans laden with precious
silks and spices that crossed the territory enroute.
These caravans earned the town great wealth.
years Jaisalmer remained untouched by the outside
influences. The rise of shipping trade and the
ridged boundaries of India and Pakistan, saw the
decline of Jaisalmer. But life within the citadel
conjures up images of medieval majesty visible
in its narrow lanes strewn with magnificent palace,
havelis, temples and of course skilled artisans
and ubiquitous camels. The perfect time to visit
the golden fortress is during the Desert Festival,
that is held every Jan/Feb. Surely a not-to-be
outside the fort is the main market place called
Manak Chowk, which is the center of local activity.
From Manak Chowk, one can walk into the lanes
where the famous carved havelies are to be found.
Each haveli's facade differs from other. Built
mainly during the 18th and 19th centuries, the
carving in the havelies of Jaisalmer is of a very
superior quality. Patwon-ki-Haveli is one
of the most exquisite havelis with a beautiful
Singh-ki-Haveli is just three centuries old,
and is still lived in. Well-excluded brackets
in the form of peacocks hold up its arched roof.
Two architect brothers built Nathmalji-ki-Haveli,
each concentrating on opposite sides. Yellow sandstone
tuskers guard the haveli.
Lodurva is the ancient capital of Jaisalmer and
an important pilgrim spot of the Jain community.
Lodurva has some magnificent Jain temple. 'Toran'
or the ornate arches at the main entrance and
splendid carvings are noteworthy. A 'Kalptaru'
or a divine tree within is the main attraction
of the temple
Fossil Park, Aakal (17 kms):
Lying on the Barmer Road, this park takes you
back to the Jurassic period (when the whole Thar
region lay under the sea) with 180 million-year-old
fossils - the geological landmarks for the study
of the Thar Desert.
Sand Dunes (42 km):
No trip to Jaisalmer is complete without a trip
to the most picturesque dunes of Sam. The ripples
on the wind -caressed dunes, that create an enchanting
mirage, are surely a delight for a trigger -happy
photographer. We organise a number of cultural
programs here against the backdrop of these fascinating
sand dunes. Exciting camel safaris allow you to
get the real feel of the desert on the camel back.
National Park (45 km):
The landscape of the Desert National Park is dominated
by rolling sand dunes and scrub covered hills.
The prominent fauna of the park includes black
buck, chinkara, desert fox and the great Indian
Sagar (5 km):
A pleasant garden beside a lake with mango and
other fruit trees. Beautifully carved Jain temples
add to its splendor.
Bada Bagh is a fertile oasis on the bank of an
artificial lake. Much of the city's fruits and
vegetables are grown here. Surrounded by dense
trees are the royal cenotaphs with beautifully
carved ceilings and equestrian statues of the
Jodhanamed Bika, a scion of the Jodhpur
dynasty (son of the Rathore Raja of Marwar)
founded the state of Bikaner in 1488. Legend
has it that Rao Bika took offence at a stray
comment that his father made during a meal,
he left with a small band of horsemen to
set up his own kingdom in the deserts of
northern Rajasthan. Spurred on by the blessing
of a great female mystic, Karni Mata, whom
he had met along the way and who had predicted
that his fame and glory would some day exceed
that of his father.
thirty years Rao Bika fought and subjugated the
local desert clans and ultimately carved out a
kingdom approximately the size of England. This
fortified city stands at a slight elevation and
is enclosed by a stone wall with five massive
gates. Several palaces, shrines can be seen here.
Raja Rai Singh, one of the trusted Rajput generals
of Akbar, built this imposing fort between 1589
and 1594. The fort defied every attack that was
made on it and today stands proud and unconquered.
The perimeter wall is nearly a kilometer long,
with 37 bastions and two gates. The Suraj Pol
(Sun Gate) is the main access to the inside. Within
are a profusion of palaces (37 of them), pavilions
and temples. Each palace is, in turn, a picturesque
ensemble of courtyards, balconies, towers and
kiosks. The palaces, exquisitely built in red
sandstone and marble are ornate with mirror work,
carvings and paintings. A museum with valuable
miniature paintings and rare antiques is also
located in the Junagarh Fort.
The red fort-palace was built by Maharaja Ganga
Singh in the year 1902, the enlightened ruler
who steered Bikaner through the first half of
this century, in honour of his father, Maharaja
Lal Singh. The palace, designed by a British architect,
is made of red sandstone and adorned with marvelously
intricate latticework and carvings that exhibit
great delicacy and refinement. There are several
terraced lawns and bougainvillea bushes, and peacocks
stroll the yards. Part of the Palace has been
converted into a hotel, but the rest remains a
museum, displaying an excellent collection of
old photographs and hunting trophies. There is
also a library, which is supposed to possess the
largest collection of original Sanskrit manuscripts
in the world. These manuscripts are on parchment,
copper, and gold or silver plaques.
5 km from Bikaner, these are these beautiful 16th
century Jain temples, dedicated to the 23rd Tirthankar
important temples of Bikaner include the Lakshminathji,
Ratan Bihariji, Shiv Bari, and Nagnechiji temple.
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