This story was created for the Google Expeditions project by ePublishing Partners, now available on Google Arts & Culture
Jaipur became known as “The Pink City” when, in 1876, Maharaja Ram Singh had most of the buildings painted pink—the color of hospitality—in preparation for a visit by Britain’s Queen Victoria and the Prince of Wales. Today, the city is known for its bazaars, forts, temples, and palaces, and its wildlife sanctuaries. In this Expedition, we’ll explore some of the city’s landmarks and see first-hand how religion, culture, and science overlapped to influence the city’s development.
Jaipur, Rajasthan, India
Just 260 km (162 miles) from the Indian capital New Delhi, Jaipur is a bustling city with a population of over 3 million people. The city’s economy is based on tourism, gemstone cutting and jewelry manufacturing, and information technology. Jaipur was India’s first planned city.
This fact is reflected in the well-designed intersection and straight, wide main streets seen here. Despite the desert climate, Jaipur’s streets are lined with trees, and public and private gardens are common.
Badi Chaupad (“big four square”) is a large, centrally located intersection and public square in Jaipur. Many temples and bazaars (markets), including the well-known Tripolia Bazaar, line these streets, so this is a popular destination for tourists.
Shops and Temples
Religion shapes everyday life in Jaipur, and many temples are located amongst the bazaars and restaurants. Temples like the Temple Ganesh—the small building with the small domed roof at the square’s corner—are open to passersby.
Open Rooftop Areas
The temperature in Jaipur is hot most of the year, often exceeding 110° F during the summer. Sleeping indoors without air-conditioning is almost impossible, so most homes are constructed with flat, walled rooftops where people sleep on the hottest nights.
Jantar Mantar is one of five astronomical observation sites built by Maharajah Sawaii Jai Singh II in the early 1700s. There are over 20 observational instruments located here. The tall, slanted structure you see functions as an enormous sundial.
The Aravalli Hills
The hills rising in the distance are the Aravalli Hills, which extend northeast from Rajasthan to Delhi. The pale, low-lying structure at the top is Nahargarh Fort, built in 1734 as part of the city’s defenses.
The Hawa Mahal, also known as Palace of Winds or Palace of Breezes, is an intricately designed 50-foot tall structure and one of Jaipur’s most visited attractions. It was built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh, the grandson of Jaipur’s founder.
The 5-story palace was designed by architect Lal Chand Ustad to resemble the crown worn by Krishna, one of Hindu’s major deities. There are no stairs inside the palace—the upper levels are reached by a series of ramps.
Red and Pink Sandstone
Hawa Mahal is constructed of pink and red sandstone, which fits in perfectly with the city’s pink color scheme. Detailed white trim and golden spires emphasize and add to the palace’s crown-like appearance.
Jharokhas, overhanging enclosed balconies with intricate lattice work, overlook the bazaar and street. When the palace was built, royal women couldn’t be seen in public. They lived in seclusion and viewed the outside world through jharokha windows.
Multicolored Stained Glass Windows
The palace has 953 jharokhas in all, each set with colored glass windows. The main effect of the stained glass is seen from the interior—sunlight shining through the windows creates dazzling multicolored designs on the floors, ceilings, and walls.
Jantar Mantar, Jaipur
What looks like a park to some is in fact a collection of scientific instruments used to measure the positions and movements of the stars and planets. This is Jantar Mantar, “instruments for measuring the harmony of the heavens” in English.
Built by Maharajah Sawaii Jai Singh II, this site symbolizes a merging of scientific, religious, and political power. The instruments are of masonry construction, and their large size enables them to be extremely accurate.
Vrihat Samrat Yantra
Vrihat Samrat Yantra, or “Supreme Instrument,” is the world’s largest sundial. It’s so precise it can measure time in as short as two second increments. The slanted wall, or gnomon, is positioned facing north-south, and is about 90 feet high.
Based on a design from 300 BCE, this hemispherical sundial measures the movement of the sun. A suspended metal plate casts a shadow inside the bowl, which is both beneath and above the ground. Measurements are based on the shadow’s position.
This instrument allows viewers to observe the position of celestial objects. First, you align the planet or star with the central pillar and markings on the floor. Then you watch to see which marking the sun’s shadow hits on the wall.
Jantar Mantar was built with the goal of making ancient Islamic astronomical tables more accurate. Religion and science were intimately connected when it was erected. The nearby temple to the Hindu god Bharu reflects this religion-science connection.
About 7 miles outside of Jaipur, Amer Fort was built in 1592 by Raja Man Singh to protect Amer, Rajasthan’s capital at the time. In following years, other kings added to the fort, creating a structure that reflects both Muslim and Hindu architecture.
The fort is made of sandstone and marble, and has four main sections, each with its own entrance and courtyard. The main entrance is known as the Suraj Pol or Sun Gate.
Sheesh Mahal—The Mirror Palace
At some point in the fort’s history, the resident queen couldn’t sleep outdoors, but wished to see the stars. So, the hall’s walls and ceiling were covered with images made of glass. When candles were lit, the space filled with thousands of “stars.”
This garden is an example of Islamic design. It features a centrally-positioned star-shaped pool and fountain. Four paths connect the garden to different sections of the fort. Different plants and flowers are grown in each of the geometric sections.
Built in the early 1700s to enhance the defenses of Amer Fort, this fort was considered to be Jaipur’s strongest. Its walls are made of thick sandstone, it houses a massive cannon, and it is connected to Amer Fort by underground passages.
Maota Lake lies at the base of Amer Fort and is the main source of water for the fort and the local community. Kesar Kyari is a man-made island garden that seems to float near the center of the lake.
Amer Palace, the historic home of the Rajput Maharajas, is located inside Amer Fort. The architecture and art seen throughout the palace reflect both Islamic and Moghul cultures and religions.
The Shila Located in a corner of this courtyard, Devi temple, also called Kali Temple, was built by Raja Man Singh in honor of his patron goddess, Kali, and contains an idol of the goddess Durga, who appeared to the Raja in a dream.
This is the gateway to the private royal living space. The Hindu god Ganesh is rarely seen in profile as he has been depicted here. The gateway was painted with vegetable dyes, which are still vivid today.
Geometric Wooden Lattice
Repeating geometric patterns are common in Islamic art and architecture. These wooden screens use a repeating hexagonal design. The screen allows air to flow through and for one to look out while remaining unseen.
Islamic art uses symmetric or repeating plant and floral patterns, as seen on the walls surrounding the Ganesh Pol. Floral motifs typically reflect the region’s plants and are found on walls, ceilings and pillars.