The City Palace in Jaipur, in the heart of the pink city has been the residence of the royal family since 1754. Even though photography is prohibited, do not be disheartened as it is only inside the musuem galleries and you can click pictures elsewhere in the compound throughout.
As we entered, we saw that there’s a small background set up with photographers advertising that they will click your pictures for free and that it is complementary. They’ll make you wear the typical Rajasthani turbans and jazz up your photographs. They’ll then ask you to collect the pictures from the exit, which obviously is not free and is charged Rs 250 each. If you’re travelling with a DSLR carrying accomplice, it’ll be quite a waste of money but if you’re not then you can take a look at the pictures which might actually be of your suiting.
The first Musuem has the infrastructure of the marriage of Hindu and Muslim cultures owing to Maharaja Man Singh’s aunt, Jodha Bai’s marriage to the Mughal Emperor Akbar. The gallery showcases the dresses of the kings and queens. Most of them were custom made for 6-8 months to be worn for only one occasion. They are, however, absolutely stunning works embroidered in gold and silver and of the finest materials.
Maharaja Man Singh was a pure devotee of the Hindu culture and ever since he was born he consumed only water from the Ganges. This is why when he was invited to England, he carried with him 8000litres of water in two silver vases weighing 345kgs each which have a height of 5 feet and 3 inches. He shipped the vessels from Bombay to England for his 3 month stay. He was also particular to drink from silver utensils, his reason being that while drinking from gold gave only physical strength, silver gave both physical and mental strength.
The diwan-i-khas was structured in such a manner so that 27 units were built for the 27 ministers with whom the king would sit with for consultation.
Next comes the gates through which the king entered. There are four gates for each season and were used by the king in such a particular fashion. Presently, the peacock gate is open for common use, mostly because peacock is the national bird of the country. These are wonderful to look at and observe and they make great scenes for photographs.
The house of the present royal family can be seen from this courtyard. The place can be visited by buying a ticket of Rs 2000. It is the only seven storey structure in Jaipur, above the height of which no other building is built. It has the flag of the Rajput kings called the ‘panchranga’ which is in th order of red, saffron, white, green and ends with black. It does not have the spokes of the Ashoka chakra as in the Indian national flag.
We then went to the last museum which holds the live size portraits of all the ruling kings of the Rajput kingdom. You will also find there the portrait of Man Singh II who was 7 feet tall and 4 feet wide and whose huge clothes are kept too in the first musuem. This museum also has the diwan-i-aam where the king would sit with his advisors and listen to the problems of the common people. The diwan-i-aam used to be open on three sides and th walls present today was built much later. There is India’s second largest chandleir hanging on the roof which was imported from Italy. The biggest in India is in a museum in Gwalior. With two royal chairs and 22 chairs on the side, this is the place where after India gained its independence, along with the King of the Rajputs, 22 other kings of neighbouring kingdoms and the first Home Minister for whom the second royal chair was kept, all the states together declared to rule unitedly as one state which they named Rajasthan, the land of the ‘rajas’ or kings. I was personally quite saddened at not being able to click any picture here.
Since the royal family is exempted from paying taxes, the shops within the complex sell items at a much cheaper price than anywhere else in Jaipur.
Just beside you’ll find the Jantar Mantar and Hawa Mahal. There are a lot of shops and markets in the area nearby which sell beautiful products of Rajasthani work like bags, shoes, clothes and artefacts. Johari Bazaar is the best place to be for anyone who has an upcoming wedding in the family. Bapu Bazaar is the place you’ll find everything you need at good prices, but if you don’t haggle you’re at a loss. The Albert Hall Musuem is hardly 10 minutes away. Another thing to try out is the kulfi sold at shops there, they are delicious!
An advise to all would be to have lunch in your hotel or any place farther away and not in the area around Hawa Mahal. The locals would suggest a few places but the food and ambience is not good at all. We read reviews on Zomato and thought how bad can it get, maybe people are exaggerating but they are not. You’ll understand the effect later if not immediately!