History of Agra
The land of the Taj Mahal, which is one of the Seven Wonders of the World, is situated on the banks of River Yamuna in the state of Uttar Pradesh. It is bounded by Mathura district in the north, Dhaulpur district in the south, Firozabad in the east and Bharatpur in the west.
Brief History of the District
Agra has a rich historical background, which is amply evident from the numerous historical monuments in and around the city. The earliest reference for Agra comes from the epical age, when Mahabharata refer Agra as Agravana. In the sources prior to this, Agra has been referred as Arya Griha or the abode of the Aryans. The first person who referred Agra by its modern name was Ptolemy. District Agra is a part of the twelve groves of Brij Mandal. During ancient period the area was known as Agarvan where Lord Krishna used to play with his companions. There are number of sayings about giving the name to this place. One tale is that the name was given after the Brakish nature of the soils of this region. It was saltpan known in Hindi as Agra. The name of district is after the name of the town.
The district finds mention in the ancient literature where district occupied an almost central position in the janapadas (states) of ancient Madhyadesh and was one of the most celebrated regions both culturally and historically. Agra has been a habited region since long before the advent of Muslims. The present area of the district was part of Gupta era (455-467 A.D.). About the beginning of sixth century after having occupied the north west frontier region and Punjab, the Hunas under their chief Toramana penetrated into Madhyadesh. Towards the close of seventh or beginning of eighth century, king Yashovarman of Kannauj rose power and became the lord of whole of northern India. During ninth century and greater part of tenth century probably the area of the present district was under the feudatories of Gujrar Pratihars. Towards the end of 1018 A.D. Mahmud Ghazni again invaded India with a hundred thousand horses raised in his own dominions and twenty thousand foot soldiers of fortune from several Central Asian countries. About 1196 A.D.Shihab-ud-din and Kutub-ud-din Aibak conquered the area of the present district. It was probably during the time of Alauddin Khilji (1296-1316) that region eventually came under the rule of the Sultans of Delhi.
Though the heritage of Agra city is linked with the Mughal dynasty, numerous other rulers also contributed to the rich past of this city. Modern Agra was founded by Sikandar Lodhi (Lodhi dynasty; Delhi Sultanate) in the 16th century. The area was under the sway of Sikandar Lodi during (1489-1511). He established his military Headquarters at Agra and founded the city of Agra in 1505. A fort was built during his reign and made Agra the capital of his kingdom in the 16th and early 17th century.
Babar (founder of the Mughal dynasty) also stayed for sometime in Agra and introduced the concept of square Persian-styled gardens here. Emperor Akbar built the Agra fort and Fatehpur Sikri near Agra. Fatehpur Sikri remained his capital for around fifteen years after which the city was left isolated in mysterious circumstances. Jahangir beautified Agra with palaces and gardens despite spending most of his time in Kashmir with which he was passionately attached. Agra came to its own when Shahjahan ascended to the throne of Mughal Empire. He marked the zenith of Mughal architecture, when he built the Taj in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. The seventh wonder of the world. Taj Mahal famous for architectural splendor of the mausoleum is a vivid reminder of the opulence of the legendary Mughal Empire. Its significance as a political center ended with the transfer of the capital to Delhi in 1634 by Shah Jahan. In his later years, Shahjahan shifted his capital to the new city of Shahjahanabad in Delhi and ruled from there. Shahjahan was dethroned in 1658 by his son, Aurangzeb who imprisoned him in the Agra Fort. Aurangzeb shifted the capital back to Agra till his death. After the death of Aurangzeb, Mughal Empire could not touch its peak and many regional kingdoms emerged. After the Mughals, Marathas and Jats ruled the area and they also made changes in the administrative units which were constructed by Akbar and finally the British taking over the city.The Marathas were defeated by British in 1803 and Agra was made a revenue division in 1834. The boundaries areas and internal adjustments of the district underwent several changes during the year 1874, 1878 and 1879 British rule ended with rest of the country in 1947 and in 1989 a new district Firozabad was formed out of this district.
Entry Timings 06:00 Hrs–18:00 Hrs
The Taj Mahal is one of the world’s most famous monuments. It commemorates both Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal, his most beloved wife. Its perfect proportions and exquisite craftsmanship have been described as “a prayer, a vision, a dream, a poem and a wonder.” This grandiose garden tomb, an image of the Islamic garden of paradise, cost nearly 41 million rupees and 500 kilos of gold. About 20,000 workers labored for almost 22 years to complete it in 1653 A.D.
Please note that no electronic equipment except cameras is allowed inside the monument. There is no charge for a still camera but a charge of Rs. 25 is levied for a video camera, which is allowed only till the first platform, as you enter the complex. No electronic items such as cell-phones, calculators and digital diaries are allowed in the premises.
Please also note that no food items, candies, mouth freshener, cigarettes, matchboxes or lighters are allowed inside the Taj Mahal premises. Only drinking water in regular plastic bottles is allowed.
No pointed / sharp-edged articles are allowed inside. All belongings are checked & visitors frisked by the security personnel at the gate.
Visitors have to remove their shoes before entering the main monument structure. Alternatively, shoe covers can be provided by the hotel (on prior notice), to be worn on top of the shoes.
Both the East & West gates have locker facilities that can be availed on the payment of Rs. 1/- per locker
Tickets are available at the counters located at the entrance of both the gates i.e. the East Gate and the West Gate. The ticket charge has to be paid in cash. Credit cards and Travelers Cheques are not accepted.
Entry Timings 06:00 hrs–18:00 hrs
The great Mughal Emperor Akbar commissioned the construction of this monument in 1565 A.D., although additions were made till the time of his grandson Shahjahan. Agra Fort, which has been made in red sandstone and white marble, was used as a residential palace by the Emperor and his Queen. The forbidding exteriors of this fort hide an inner paradise. There are a number of exquisite buildings like Moti Masjid - a white marble mosque akin to a perfect pearl; Diwan-e-Am, Diwan-e-Khaas, Jehangir’s Palace, Khaas Mahal, Shish Mahal and Mussaman Burj - where Shahjahan was held captive in 1666 A.D.
Entry Timings 06:00 Hrs–17:00 Hrs
Itmad-ud-Daulah was built by Empress Noorjahan (wife of Emperor Jehangir) between 1622-1628 A.D. in memory of her father, Mirza Ghiyas Beg. It took seven years to build this mausoleum. Mirza Ghiyas Beg, a Persian by birth, came to India during the reign of Emperor Akbar. Akbar’s son Jehangir married his daughter Noorjahan and made him the Prime Minister, giving him the title of Itmad-Ud-Daulah, which means “Reliance of The State”.
Itmad-Ud-Daulah is the first building made of marble in India. It is also the first building in which marble inlay work (pietra dura) is the main element in the scheme of decoration. It is a superb architectural composition, unique in design, most elegant in finish and is known to be the inspiration for the Taj Mahal – therefore it is often called “Baby Taj”.
The current district of Jaipur lies in Eastern Rajasthan, in the Banas River basin and forms a part of Eastern Plain of Rajasthan. The region is drained by a number of seasonal rivers of which Banganga, Dhundh and Bandi are prominent. From the 10th century onward, the district referred to as Dhoondhar, formed one of the four distinguishable politico-cultural regions of Eastern Rajasthan, in addition to Mewat, Hadauti and Mewar. Dhoondhar region was roughly comprised of current districts of Jaipur, Dausa and Tonk, with Jaipur and Amber further constituting Dhoondhar sub zone within the larger tract of Dhoondhar region. In Aryan epics, Dhoondhar region (called Matsya Desh/ Mina Wati) was the shortest trade route between north India and rich port cities of Gujarat and Malabar. The region was held by Badgujars, Rajputs and Minas till the 11th century. From the 11th century onwards, however, the Dhoondhar region was increasingly under the power of Kachchwaha dynasty of Rajputs. The Kachchwaha Rajputs trace their descent through the solar dynasty to Kush, one of the two sons of Lord Rama, the famous king of Ayodhya and the hero of the epic Ramayana. According to local tradition and popular bardic chronicles, Dulha/Dhola Rai (whose reign is accepted as being from 1006-1036 AD by most historians) one of the rulers of this clan, laid the foundation of Dhoondhar kingdom in 967 AD and made Dausa his capital.
Kakil Dev (1036-1038) who succeeded his father Dulha Rai in 1036 AD, seized Amber from Meenas, laid the foundations of the Amber Fort and built the temple of Ambikeshwar Mahadev – one of Amber’s earliest extant monuments. The capital of Dhoondar was shifted from Dausa to Amber between 1179 and 1216 AD. By the 17th century, the Kachchwaha Rajput clan became known for political clout and importance in the Mughal administration. Raja Man Singh (1590-1614) and Mirza Raja Jai Singh (1622-1667) contributed to the financial and cultural wealth of Dhoondhar through political alliance with Mughals. Sawai Jai Singh II (1700 – 1743) who outlived five Mughal emperors and tried to prop up the Mughal Empire from 1707 – (Aurangzeb’s death) to sack of Delhi by Nadir Shah (1739) established the city of Jaipur and strengthened the boundaries of Dhoondhar.art of the Golden Tourism Triangle – Agra, Jaipur, Delhi of northern India, Jaipur has emerged as one of the most sought after destinations on the tourist map of the world. The tourist season for Jaipur is from October to March. The city attracts domestic and foreign tourists in large numbers averaging to about 3000 tourists per day, who stay for 3-4 days in the city.
The foundation of the city of Jaipur was established by Sawai Jai Singh II (1700-1743) in 1727. The city was designed by Sawai Jai Singh II himself and further developed and monitored by his renowned counselor Vidyadhar. The city planned in the gridiron pattern was built with extraordinary foresight and futuristic planning and is probably the only 18th century walled city in India that can still cater to the present day pressures of vehicular traffic on roads. It included innovative concepts in traditional planning guidelines along with an appropriate adaptation of the terrain itself. The direct application of the mandala in the plan of Jaipur seems improbable, though parallels can be found between the Jaipur planning principles and traditional texts on spatial organization such as Rajvallabha, the regional 15th century text written by the sutradhar Mandan. Two significant facts responsible for the origin of the city and its subsequent layout were: The need of a new capital for 18th century Dhoondhar as the earlier one of Amber built on a hill was getting congested; Sawai Raja Jai Singh’s vision of the new capital as a strong political statement at par with Mughal cities and as a thriving trade and commerce hub for the region. The medieval towns of Rajasthan were of military, agrarian, mercantile or religious nature. The presence of a deity marked the reference point for the ruler’s abode and the rest of the city. The name of the town was usually associated with the political or religious centre (with the Ambikeshwar temple in the case of Amber and with Sawai Jai Singh in the case of Jaipur). Unlike Dausa and Amber, the two previous capital cities of the Dhoondhar region established on hill-top, whose planning was guided by topographical structure of the areas, Jaipur city was revolutionary both in terms of its grid-iron pattern planning and its location at the base of the hills.There was also a significant economic shift from an agricultural base in Dausa and Amber to trading in the capital of Jaipur. The site selected for establishing the new capital of Jaipur was a valley located south of Amber and the plains beyond, a terrain that was the bed of a dried lake. There used to be dense forest cover to the north and the east of the city.The physical constraints that informed the building of Jaipur city included the hills on the north that housed the fort of Jaigarh and the Amber palace beyond, and the hills on the east, which contained the sacred spot of Galtaji. To facilitate water supply to the new city, the Darbhavati river in the north was dammed to create the Jai Sagar and Man Sagar (that later housed the Jal Mahal) lakes. Later the Jhotwara river in the north-west was diverted through the Amani Shah Nallah and a number of canals were channelized through Brahmapuri and Jai Niwas to supply water to the city. The east-west axis of the town was divided by three perpendicular roads into eight portions with the central ones of equal size and the outer ones as per the remaining dimensions till the Chand Pol in the west and Suraj Pol in the east. A sawaya (a quarter extra) system of measurement was used in the planning and details of Jaipur, with use of dimensions that are a quarter more than a whole number. Later in the 18th and 19th centuries, there were additions in the built fabric of the city and the palace such as the Hawa Mahal and a number of temples added by Sawai Pratap Singh under whom the Jaipur architectural vocabulary reached its peak in terms of stylization. Two major contributors to the city development and establishment of modern infrastructure were Sawai Ram Singh II (1835 – 1879) and Sawai Man Singh II (1922 – 1969). In the 19th century, with the accessionof Sawai Ram Singh II, the city extended beyond the old city walls, adapted newer modes of transport such as the railways with a railway station located on the western outskirts, started using gaslights on the streets and adopted modernized drainage and piped water supply system. There were interesting additions in the urban fabric within the walled city with new buildings constructed in the Indo Saracenic vocabulary such as the Mubarak Mahal within the Palace Complex, the Naya Mahal or Vidhan Sabha and the Maharaja’s College in 1873 (now Rajasthan School of Arts); and the Ramniwas Bagh that was later enhanced with the visual focus of the monumental Albert Hall Museum to the south of the walled city. The 20th century observed further modernization and urban renovations within the walled city, including the restoration work of the city walls and gates and, converting the inner temporary houses in the sectors into more permanent structures; pioneered by the famous Mirza Ismail who was appointed as the Prime Minister of Jaipur in the early 20th century. A number of new colonies such as the Bani Park came outside the walled city. In 1947, the four largest Rajput states, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Jaipur opted to join secular India. Jaipur then became the capital of Rajasthan leading to further attraction of administrative and economic activities. These factors led to increased development of residential areas to cater to the growing population.
Streets and chowks
The main markets, havelis and temples on the main streets in Jaipur were constructed by the state in the 18th century, thus ensuring a uniform street façade is maintained. The widths of roads were predetermined. According to a popular belief, the city was painted pink to celebrate the visit of the Prince of Wales in 1876, during the reign of Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II, lending the city the name of ‘Pink City’. Junctions of the main axial streets formed the two square public open spaces called chaupars (Badi chaupar and Chhoti chaupar). The width of the square chaupars was three times that of the main street. Historically, the chaupars were outlets for intense social use with water structures connected by underground aqueducts, supplying numerous sources of drinking water at street level. Presently, the centre of each chaupar has square enclosures with ornamental fountains. The streets and chowks (central open squares in a town) of the internal chowkries (sectors) with numerous clusters or mohallas were not predetermined; hence show a mix of grid iron and organic pattern, with the basic unit of built form being the rectangular haveli. Original markets in the city include Kishanpole bazaar, Gangauri bazaar, Johari bazaar, Sireh Deorhi bazaar, along the main north-south and east-west axes that intersect at Chhoti and Badi Chaupars. Typical architectural features of the bazaar streets are - use of chhajjas (sunshades) resulting in strong horizontal lines, projecting vertical blocks on brackets, a modular system of arches filled with delicate latticed screens to cut direct sun and glare of reflected sun in the street. Façades of Jaipur and surroundings typically have gokhdas (sitting spaces) on either side of the entrance. The openings are often characterized by the use of cusped, trefoil or pointed arches with rectangular or chhatri (vaulted dome) type framing, flanked with lotus columns. An increased ornamentation is seen in later post Jaipur Marwari patterned havelis as compared to the Dhoondhari ones from the 18th century. Stylistically, the bangaldar (curvilinear) roof became prevalent in stone chhatris and chhajjas (sunshades) and was later used in other areas of Rajasthan too. Stone for construction is available in abundance in the region. The earlier structures are of masonry in random rubble or dressed form in grey metamorphosed stone, schist from Ramgarh or stone from Ghat Ki Guni area. Later in the 19th century, Bansi Paharpur stone was used in Jaipur. Stone walls are on an average 1 feet 6 inches thick and plastered with lime. Columns are either assembled with late rite stone or are monolithic with timber type joints. Use of stone in beams, lintels, door and window frames is common. Makrana marble is used for decorative components such as carved columns and black marble from Kotputli for inlay-work. Roofing is usually of stone slabs except in a few cases where bricks are arranged in a concentric manner called the ladao roof. For thermal insulation, a layer of inverted clay pots used between multiple roofing layers amounting to a total roof thickness of about 1 feet 6 inches.
Typical finishes of this region include araish (slaked lime smooth finish) on floors and walls. The havelis, palaces and temples show excellence in stone work of jharokhas (projected balconies), jaalis (latticed screens) and parapets. Stuccowork in lime plaster is also found. Decorative finishes include mirror work, stained glass, mother of pearl inlay and silver inlay work frescoes, pannimeena and dakmeena work. He walled city of Jaipur shows a 6 meter high and 3 meter thick crenelated masonry wall surrounding the city that is pierced by nine gates – seven original and two were added later. The city gates were earlier closed at night as a rule. The practice discontinued in 1942 due to inconvenience to the travelers from the railway station who reached the city late in the night. Remains of fortifications of earlier capital of Amber in the north and Ambagarh in the Ghat ki Guni area in the east present an interesting landscape. The walled central square (Chowkri Sarhad) several high walled courtyards sequential laid out with a system of gateways. Similar gateways can be seen in the other palaces in and around Jaipur – such as the Amber fort and palace. These include constructions by the rulers of Dhoondhar such as Amber Fort and Palace, Jaipur City Palace, Nahargarh, Raghunathgarh, Jaigarh, Ambagarh; as well as by the thakurs (estate owners) within the region in their thikanas (land/estates) such as Samode Chomu,Manoharpura, Achrol, Bishangarh. The most exemplary in ornamentation are the Amber Palace, the Jaipur City Palace and the Samode Palace for its mirror- work. The palace structures within the city palace complex of Jaipur comprise of the Badal Mahal, the seven storied Chandra Mahal with highly ornamented interiors and the Sarvato Bhadra constructed during Sawai Jai Singh’s reign (1700-1743). Later additions include the Pritam Niwas by Sawai Pratap Singh (1778-1803), Diwan-i-Am, constructed in the 18th century under Sawai Madho Singh I (1751-1768) or Sawai Pratap Singh (1778 – 1803) and Mubarak Mahal by Sawai Madho Singh II (1880-1922) in 1896 for use by royal guests. The pleasure palaces outside the city palace complex are the Jal Mahal – within the Mansagar Lake and Ram Bagh Palace and Raj Mahal that have been converted to heritage hotels. Jaipur and Amber,the earlier of capital of Dhoondhar capital are renowned for their numerous historic temples. While Amber has excellent stone carved temples with shikharas (spires) built from 11th century onwards, Jaipur became the precursor in building haveli temples of the 18th century. The Jain and Hindu temples form a significant part of the built fabric. The planning of Jaipur is rooted in the centric Indian philosophy with the temple of Govind Dev defining the centre that led to the genesis of the city plan. The Govind Dev Temple, established in a pavilion called Suraj Mahal, standing in between the Badal Mahal and Chandra Mahal in the Jai Niwas Garden, continues to be the most active temple even today. Although there is no definite data, locals state that around 400 temples were built in Jaipur during its planning. There are more than 1000 temples of various sizes in Jaipur with 606 within the walled city as registered temples with the Devasthan department in 1973. All the important temple sites, specifically on the main commercial streets had been marked in the Jaipur plan during the reign of Sawai Jai Singh. Even today, the importanttempleswith shikharascan be observed at four most important locations in the city along the cardinal axes i.e. the Laxmi Narayan Temple at Badi Chaupar, the Rama temple at Chhoti Chaupar, the Murli Manohar temple at Ramganj Chaupar and the Kalka temple opposite to the main Sireh Deodhi entrance to the Palace. It is interesting that in all these temples the idol is facing towards Govind Dev, the main deity of Jaipur. Each mohalla (cluster of houses) has its own temple presided over by the deity most appropriate for their prosperity and protection. A relationship between temples and wells (both constituting ritual spaces) can be observed inside the chowkries in the layout of the sectors. Most of the remaining temples inside the city were built in the haveli temple style without shikhara. Sawai Pratap Singh got numerous temples constructed within the city, reflecting the stylized articulation of the period.
Havelis and cluster houses
The havelis (medieval north Indian mansions belonging to nobles) of Jaipur range from a single courtyard house form to an assemblage of multiple courts, depending on the status of the owner and number of family members. Majority of the havelis have one or two courtyards. The haveli forms the basic urban fabric of the towns in the Jaipur region. Palaces can be visualized as an extension of the havelis. The haveli plots in Dhoondhar region conform to a rectangular or square shape, sometimes with offsets. The Jaipur havelis not only provide a wide range and scale of this archetype but also present two unique typological variations of the haveli i.e. the haveli temple type found as courtyard temples (with no shikhara) on the main commercial streets as well as inner residential streets of Jaipur and secondly, the garden haveli type found on the Ghat Ki Guni valley stretch located on the Jaipur Agra highway. The association of a particular haveli with the temple or well in the cluster also emphasized the status of the owner. Group of havelis formed mohallas – number of mohallas formed a chowkri (sector) well defined as a geographical entity in the city. A chowkri in Jaipur may comprise of up to 400 mohallas.
Water being scarce in the region, indigenous methods for effective water collection have been evolved and practiced across Rajasthan. A vast number of reservoirs, artificial lakes, tanks, kunds (stepped ponds), step-wells or baories, wells, ponds etc, have been built and renovated over the centuries. The surface water bodies – Talkatora,Jai Sagar, Man Sagar (Jal Mahal Lake) and the Ramgarh Lake were important features in the city plan. The artificial lakes were created in response to the natural topography.
Public open space and gardens
Public open space and gardens constitute another typical element of Jaipur city planning. Just as the Govind Dev temple on which the planning of the city was centered, the Jai Niwas garden and the Chaugan were envisaged as a significant open space for the city, meant for performances and sports witnessed by the general public and attended by the royalty. Chaugan is the public entertainment ground of Jaipur in the west of the walled city where polo, elephant fights and other sports were held between 1724 and 1921. Square in plan, enclosed by high walls, the Chaugan was venue for Teej and Gangaur fairs in earlier times and now houses the Zonal Sports Stadium. Jai Niwas Garden, the first garden to be established in the city by Sawai Jai Singh II, is a symmetrical formal garden on double char bagh pattern with fountains and water falls in Mughal theme using natural slope of the terrain. With British influence, later gardens such as the Ram Niwas Bagh established in 1868 by Sawai Ram Singh II deviated from the earlier Mughal planning of Jai Niwas and Ghat Ki Guni gardens. The Albert Hall was later added in the centre of this English pattern Ram Niwas garden. Even today, it is significant as the second largest open space for the city. Located outside the walled city, it sprawls across an area of 4 acres and was designed by surgeon Major De- Faback. It is a well-laid out garden comprising a zoo, a bird park, play ground, exhibition ground and a gymnasium. That ki Guni was a recreational area established by Sawai Jai Singh II in 1739 on the outskirts of Jaipur, beyond Ghat Lake, where water was available, a concept of which seems to have developed with the Mughal influence at the time of Akbar. It has three main gardens that demonstrate the palace-garden —Sisodia Rani Ka Bagh, Vidyadhar ka Bagh and Raj Niwas Bagh—and haveli-garden typologies.
Public buildings and memorials
Monumental structures such as the Jantar Mantar Observatory, the Hawa Mahal, Old Vidhan Sabha Building and parts of the City Palace Complex are important public buildings in the city centre today. Public buildings such as railway station,schools,hospitals,theatres, museums, colleges were constructed in the 19th century, starting with the reign of Sawai Ram Singh II (1835 – 1879). These were built in the Indo Saracenic style with the Naya Mahal or Old Vidhan Sabha exhibiting an architectural style that is a fusion of local Rajput elements with colonial pediments and arches. The memorials include the royal cenotaphs at Gaitor with significant ones being the Chhatris of Sawai Jai Singh II and Sawai Madho Singh; and the cenotaphs of royal ladies and the victory tower - Isar Lat. The new Vidhan Sabha building reflects the continuity from the 19th century colonial framework by the Public Works Department by replication of architectural details from the ‘Jeypore Portfolio’. Jawahar Kala Kendra, a cultural centre designed by Charles Correa in 1986 and the urban design for Vidyadhar Nagar, a residential area in New Jaipur, designed by the architect B V Doshi and established in 1984-1986 are an attempt to reflect the symbolism of the Vastu Purusha Mandala (concept in ancient Indian treatise emphasizing on establishing harmony between natural and human environment), which is said to have formed the basis of the planning of the city of Jaipur, according to several historians.
The city as a centre for arts and business Arts and crafts, Building arts and crafts, Music and dance Festivals.
The important part of Sawai Jai Singh’s planning included the promotion of commercial activities of the city. As a result, merchants were invited in 1729 through dispatched letters and given special incentives and prime location to settle in the city. They were given free land and given remissions and concessions on taxes. Located on important trade routes,Jaipur thus became an important and vibrant center for trade and commerce that fuelled its growth further, housing large numbers of artisans, craftsmen and merchants from distant parts of India. There were potters, utensil makers, stone carvers, building craftsmen and builders, leather workers and tanners, jewelers and precious stone cutters, ivory carvers, brass ware manufacturers, enamellers; weavers, dyers and embroiderers, settled in mohallas or group of mohallas occupied by families pursuing similar trade or craft. The same guild system continues till date, as in the proposed heritage walk area of Chowkri Modikhana. The royal patronage to literary works, music, miniature painting and the performing arts also resulted in huge collections in the pothikhana (royal library) and has led to the evolution of the Jaipur style of painting, music and dance and the encouragement of the Dhoondhari language. Chhattis Karkhane (36 departments) set up on Mughal or Persian standards with Hindi names, gave state protection to learned men, poets, writers, painters, musicians, dancers, artists and sculptors to train them further, thereby enriching the arts and crafts traditions. Jaipur became a hub for artists after the 1857 War of Independence, when many of them who fled from Delhi found refuge in Jaipur. During the period of Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh (1778-1803), the Jaipur School of painting flourished with influences from the Devgarh and Kishan garh painting styles. Sawai Jagat Singh (1803 – 1848) was the last patron for paintings – after whom the traditional style deteriorated due to influences from western art. Miniature painting continues however as an art today, drawing from the Jaipur School tradition. The Pachranga (five colored) flag designed by Raja Man Singh remained to be the identity of the Dhoondhar region and the five colored pagri (turban) was worn by the rulers of Dhoondhar. The colours are an important aspect of the Dhoondhari cultural heritage, with various dyeing techniques and block printing of Sanganer having evolved in the region. The tie and dye (leheriya) textile printing, textile block printing of Sanganer, natural dyes, metal crafts, enameling (minakari), crafting silver jewelry and artifacts, stone crafts, handmade paper and blue pottery are the most famous handicrafts today. The Dhoondhar rulers are known to be the patrons of arts and crafts from the period of Raja Man Singh (1590 – 1614). Besides the buildings crafts of stone carving, mirror works and inlays; an indigenous fresco technique done on araish evolved, examples of which can be seen in Bairat caravan serai, Bharmal Ki Chhatri from the period of Man Singh (influence from the Mughal Court of Akbar), and in Ganesh Pol (1639), Amber, from the period of Mirza Raja Jai Singh with Mughal influences later absorbed to develop integrated style.
Music and dance
The city has well developed folk music and dance forms, such as ‘Dhudhadi’, that is the Jaipur style of Galibazi (verbal art form traditionally used as medium for social awareness and reform) and ‘Tamasha’, a style of musical folk play introduced to the city during the reign of Sawai Ram Singh II (1855 – 1880). Fairs and festivals are an important part of the entire region. The integration of the festivals with royal traditions followed since the establishment of the city, making the festive celebrations of Makar Sankranti, Teej, Gangaur, Holi and Dusshehra special for the city of Jaipur, as processions and performances take place with the involvement of the royal family. The game of polo is a modern version of Chaugan (means a hockey like stick in Persian that was used in the Mughal period to play a sport of the same name with a wooden ball, on horseback) that brought international recognition to Jaipur during the period of Maharaja Man Singh II. The annual Jaipur Heritage International Festival, started in 2002 by the Jaipur Virasat Foundation is a week long event, presently called the Rajasthan Day celebrations–Jaipur Festival in partnership with the Government of Rajasthan and endorsed by UNESCO New Delhi. The celebrations provide an international cultural platform to the living traditions of Rajasthan, now an integral part of the social fabric of the city.
Amber Palace & Fort
Amber Fort is the former capital of Jaipur Royal Family, before Jaipur city was built. The Amber Fort is on a hill overlooking the Maota Lake and has been built by Raja Man Singh Iover the remnants of a place built by the Meenas for Amba -Goddess Mother. The Kachwaha kings ruled from Amber from 1037 to 1727, when the capital was shifted to Jaipur. The Amber Fort and Palaces have been added to by various rulers over its history of about 700 years by several kings of the Kachwaha Dynasty. The entrance to the Amber Fort complex is through the gate Ganesh Pol, which is embellished with frescos and sculptures, the top of which was designed for the royal ladies to keep tab of the proceedings of Diwan-i-aam. The Sheesh Mahal or Jai Mahal is an exquisit hall decorated with a million small mirrors of complex shapes (used to reflect candle light). Sukh Mahal is designed to draw fresh cool air from the water fountains in the front yard of the building so as to keep the temperature bearable in the summer.
Amber Fort Timings: 8:00 am -5:30 pm Everyday.
Elephant Rides to the Fort: Rs.450 per person (9:00 am to 11:30 am).
Hawa Mahal was built by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh in 1799. The Hawa Mahal was designed by architect Ustad Lal Chand to resemble the crown of Lord Krishna (a popular Hindu God). The five storied structure has finely sculptured latticed pink sand stone screens which would create a low pressure thus drawing air into the building and cooling it. Usually the ladies of the harem would view the streets and markets in front of the Hawa Mahal without being visible to people on the street.
Hawa Mahal Timings: 9:00 am -4:30 pm everyday.
Jantar Mantar is an astronomical observatory built by Maharaja Jai Singh II in 1734 and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Jantar Mantar consists of 14 astronomical instruments used to predict eclipses, track constellations and time. The individual astronomical instruments were designed by Maharaja Jai Singh of Jaipur II except the Mishra Yantra which was brought by the Mughals to indicate noon in various cities across the globe. Samrat Yantra is a large sun dial with the accuracy of about 2 seconds. Jai Prakash Yantr a shows the sun's position at the time of equinox.
Jantar Mantar Timings: 9:00 am -4:30 pm everyday.
The City Palace complex consists of two palaces -the Mubarak Mahal, which is open to the public and the Chandra Mahal, which is the current residence of the Royal family of Jaipur. The City Palace was initially completed in 1732 by Sawai Jai Singh II - the King of Amber, who also designed the well planned city of Jaipur. Subsequent rulers added various buildings and made modifications to the palaces until late 20th century. Sawai jai Singh II ruled from Amber, about 10 kms north of the city of Jaipur and he shifted his capital to the new city of Jaipur in 1727. Mubarak Mahal was built by Maharaja Madho Singh II and houses a museum displaying variousitems from the Royal wardrobe. Only the ground floor of the seven storied Chandra Mahal is open to visitors and has a museum which displays Royal carpets, Royal Manuscripts and other Royal items.
City Palace Timings: 9:00 am -5:00 pm every day.
Jal Mahal (Drive through)
Jal Mahal is a beautiful building located in the middle of Man Sagar lake. Jal Mahal was a hunting lodge of the Maharajas once. Jal Mahal has been restored and now tourists can visit the building by boat. The Jal Mahal and the lake were renovated and widened by Maharaja Jai Singh II in the 1800s.