For seven long centuries before Jaipur was built, Amer served as the capital as Kachhwaha rulers of the old state of Dhundhar.Amer Fort is the complex of palaces, halls, pavilions, gardens and temples, which were built by Raja Man Singh, Mirza Raja Jai Singh and Sawai Jai Singh over a period of about two centuries.
The palace complex rising from the placid waters of the Mootha lake is approached through a steep path, now often traversed by tourists on elephant-back, to Singh palace and Jaleb Chowk. Two flights of stairs rise from one end to the chowk, one leading to the elegant temple of Shila Mata and other to the palace complex. The image of the Mother Goddess worshipped with reverence by thousands of devotees every day was brought from Jessore in East Bengal ( now in Bangladesh ) by raja Man Singh and installed here.
The front courtyard of the palace complex is dominated by the spectacular pillared hall of the Diwan-e-Aam and the double storeyed painted gateway Ganesh Pole. Beyond the corridors and galleries on the either side of a small elegant Charbagh style garden are Sukh Niwas to its right and Jas Mandir to its left. The Jas Mandir in the upper floor combines the finest elements od mughal architecture and interior decoration in a Rajput setting with intricately carved jali screens, delicate mirror and stucco works and painted and carved dadodes. The older and simpler structures at the far end were built by Raja Man Singh in the later year of the 16th century.
The City Palace is a historic landmark. The carved arches are supported by grey-white marble columns studded with floral motifs in gold and coloured stones. Two elephants carved in marble guard the entrance, where retainers whose families have served generations of rulers are at hand to serve as guides.
The palace interior houses a Museum containing select collection of various types of Rajasthani dresses, a fascinating armoury of Mughal and Rajput weapons; swords of all shapes and sizes, with chased handles, some of them inlaid, enameled, encrusted with jewels and encased in bold and magnificent scabbards.
It also has an art gallery with a fine collection of paintings, carpets, royal paraphernalia and rare astronomical works in Arabic, Persian, Latin and Sanskrit, acquired by Sawai Jai Singh-II for his study of planets and their movements.
Jantar mantar is one of Jai Singh's five remarkable observatories. Constructed with stone and marble its complex instruments whose settings and shapes are precisely and scientifically designed represent the high points of Medieval Indian astronomy. The Ram Yantras used for gauging altitudes are unique in their isolation. this is the largest of the five observatories founded by Sawai Jai Singh-II in various parts of the country. It has been listed in UNESCO world heritage sites.
Major Yantras or instruments that you can watch moving clockwise are: Small 'Samrat', 'Dhruva', 'Narivalya', The Observer's Seat, Small 'Kranti', 'Raj' 'Unnathamsa', 'Disha', 'Dakshina', Large 'Samrat', 'Rashivalayas', 'Jai Prakash', Small 'Ram', Large 'Ram Yantra', 'Diganta', Large 'Kranti'
Built by the poet king Sawai Pratap Singh, the Hawa Mahal is the most strikingly designed monument in Jaipur. What is seen from the Sireh Deorhi Bazaar is the multiniched five storey high backside of the complex ( see it in photo gallery ). It was conceived to provide adequate vantage position behind delicate stone carved jali screens to the palace women for watching the royal processions passing through the bazaar below.
It is situated in the beautiful garden of Jaipur city, Ram Niwas Bagh. It was constructed by Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh in the year 1886 under the drought relief work of Rs 4 Lacs.The design of the building was done by Sir Swinton Jaicob. Presently the hall is used for museum purpose.
A tiny palace romantically located in the middle of a small lake, this was supposed to be a hunting lodge for the royal family. It can only be viewed from the banks of the lake.
Equipped with modern computerized projection system, the planetarium offers unique audio-visual educational entertainment. A Science Museum is also a part of this one of the most modern planetarium in India.
Beyond the gardens amidst the low hills guarding the city lies the old pilgrim centre of Galtaji. Temples, pavilions and holy kunds ( natural springs and reservoirs ) do the serene green landscape. The small temple of the Sun God, built by Diwan Kriparam on the top of the highest peak, is visible from all parts of the city.
In the southern horizon is a privately owned hilltop fort of Moti Doongari shaped like a scotish castle. At the foot of the hill, Laxmi Narayan Temple, beautifully built in sparking white marble, is located.
Beyond the hills of Jaigarh stand the Fort of Nahargarh like a watchful sentinel guarding Sawai Jai Singh's beautiful city. Much of the original structures are now in ruins, but the lovely building added by sawai Ram Singh II and Sawai Madho Singh II still survive.
Also known as Isar Lat, this tower was erected in the mid-18th century by Maharaja Ishwari Singh to commemorate a battle victory. Ironically, Ishwari Singh was ostracized for his love of a common girl, and he is the only Kachchawaha maharaja who has not been commemorated at Gaitore.The tower dominating the skyline on the western side of Tripolia Bazaar is the highest structure in Jaipur.
In the central pavilion of the sprawling Jai Niwas Garden to the north of the Chandra Mahal is the spire less temple of Lord Krishna. the image in the form of Govind Devji, originally installed in a temple of Vrindavan, was reinstalled here by Sawai Jai Singh-II as his family deity. this is the most famous and popular temple in Pink City attracting devotees from all over the country.
Along the road to Agra through a narrow garge in the southern eastern corner of the walled city, several landscaped gardens were constructed by the Kings and important courtiers in the 18th and 19th centuries. The largest and the most famous ia a garden built by sawai jai Singh II for his Sisodia queen-the Sisodai Rani Ka Bagh. It consists of tiered multilevel gardens with fountains, watercourses and painted pavillions.
The western skyline is dominated by the extensive parkotas (walls), watch-towers and gateways of jaigarh. It is one of the few military structures of the mediaeval India preserved almost intact containing palaces, gardens, open and covered reservoirs, a granary, an armoury, a well-planned cannon foundry, several temples, a tall tower and a giant mounted cannon-the Jai Ban - the largest in the country.
Located off the Jaipur-Amber road, Gaitore is the final resting place for the maharajas of Jaipur. Set in a narrow valley, the cenotaphs of the former rulers consist of the somewhat typical chhatri or umbrella-shaped memorials. Of special mention is Jai Singh IT's chhatri because of the carvings that have been used to embellish it.
A small palace, this is a replica of a Scottish castle, and perches on a hilltop. Once occupied by Maharaja Madho Singh's son who was confined here, it was also for a while home to Maharani Gayatri Devi.
A garden planned by Maharaja Ram Singh in the 19th century as a famine relief project, this extensive park consists of a zoo, aviary, herbarium museum and sports complex. An added attraction is Albert Hall, designed by Sir Swinton Jacob, a British architect who created palaces for many of the rulers of Rajasthan, and whose experiments with Indo Saracenic architecture combined elements of English and north- Indian architecture. Albert Hall is a museum and houses many curiosities.
The exquisite, tiered garden laid for the private pleasure of the architect of the city, it has delicated pavilions bordered by water channels, and a larger pavilion overlooking the whole complex. Located at Ghat Ki Guni, it is now let out for private picnics.