Jaipur finds a place as one of the 50 most beautiful cities of the world in a recent list updated by Conde Nast Traveller Magazine. Jaipur or the Pink City is the only Indian city to have found a place in this list of 50.
Conde Nast in its tribute to Pink City, writes : “It isn’t the kind of place to hide its true colors. It’s been called flamboyant, and a site of pilgrimage for anyone even vaguely interested in shopping and, more importantly, discovering India’s inimitable material culture. India is almost unique in the world for the number and diversity of things that it still makes by hand—artisanry is a fact of daily life here, rather than an exception to it.”
But Pink City has always been known as the first architecturally planned city of India. Founded in 1727 by Maharaja Jai Singh II, the credit for building the beautiful city goes to architect Vidyadhar Bhattacharya, who built the city based on Shilp Shastra. Jaipur was constructed in nine rectangular blocks. Seven of these blocks were created to serve for the civic and the remaining two comprised state buildings and palaces. Surrounded by the city wall, the entrance to the city was through its imposing seven gates.To defend the gigantic fortification, walls were created together with seven huge gates. The city got its pink colour during the visit of Prince of Wales during 1905-06.
In 1729, Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II sent letters to famous merchant houses all over India, inviting them to settle in Jaipur. They were given prime locations, free land grants, and concessions on taxes. Located on important trade routes, Jaipur soon became a major centre for trade and commerce, housing a large number of artisans, craftsmen and merchants. The city’s bazaars, specialising in jewellery, textiles and crafts, became famous throughout the land.
Apart from its historic palaces, forts and monuments, Pink City is known more for its bustling, colourful and traditional bazaars. Jaipur’s heart beats in these old Walled city with jam packed pink coloured shops in neatly arranged rows. One can visit bazaars like the Maniharon Ka Rasta, Tripolia Bazaar, Thateron Ka Rasta, Kishanpol, Chandpol and Sireh Deori market opposite the iconic Hawa Mahal and others.
Here you can imbibe the daily life of the people from all walks of life, either bargaining over prices or praying at the various temples or tourists in droves roaming awestruck at the colourful handicrafts. The fragrance of flowers, vegetables, spices permeate the area and smear a special colourful ambience over the place. Chai shops, iron merchants, sparkling utensils also find place in these markets.
But Pink City is not all about traditional markets, it has plush, avant-garde malls as well. The city is all about festivals, when it turns a vibrant, joyous city. Deepawali, the festival of lights sees it at its best, all decked up and sparkling and lighted up. Holi and Makar Sankranti are the other big festivals when the city dons a different look.
But the city has its downside too. Chaotic, increasing population, traffic and urbanisation, is putting the city at risk of turning into another metro. This may mar its way to retain the ‘most beautiful’ label in the future. Think before it is too late.