For Paris of India, centuries old grandeur still lives on
DNA | Nov 18, 2012, 04:29AM IST
Jaipur: The capital and largest city of the Indian state of Rajasthan was founded on 18 November 1727 by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, the ruler of Amber (the city has been named after him). Jaipur is also known as Pink City and Paris of India. Forts, palaces, architectural marvels and tales of valour, all in their own way, bear testimony to the glory that Jaipur is and was just after it was conceived.
Located 262 kilometers from Delhi, Jaipur was the first planned city in northern India. Jaipur’s history dates back to the 12th century when the Kachchwaha clan of Rajputs arrived at the old fort palace of Amber in the Aravalli Hills. The Kachchwaha belonged to the Kshatriya, or the warrior caste of Hindus, but they traced their origins back to the sun, via Kusa who the twin son of the god Rama. The people the Kachchwahas ousted were the Susawat Minas, who became the hereditary loyal guards of what became one of the largest and most valuable treasuries in India. From this base, the Kachchwaha Rajputs, with their brilliant soldiering, and a knack for lucrative alliances (even if that meant swallowing Rajput pride), amassed a fortune. It was the special relationship the Amber rulers developed with the Mughals that brought them real power, influence and wealth.
The city was planned in a grid system of seven blocks of buildings with wide straight avenues lined with trees, with the place set on the north side. Surrounding it are high walls pieced with ten gates. The site of the shops was chosen after careful planning and they are arranged in nine rectangular city sectors (chokris).
Jaipur was the first sizable city in north India to be built from scratch, though the famous pink color symbolizing welcome’, came later when Ram Singh II received the Prince of Wales in 1876. The color was chosen after several experiments to cut down the intense glare from the reflection of the blazing rays of the sun.
To this day, the buildings are uniformly rose pink. After Jai Singh died in 1773, a battle for succession followed and the Marathas and jats who were making advances in various parts of the country also decided to try their luck and Jaipur lost large chunks of territory with the ruler playing second fiddle the fast growing East India Company.
In 1818, several maharajas of the north-west princely states and Maharaja Jagat Singh of Jaipur, signed a treaty with the British under which they could continue to have control of their states, but would be collectively supervised by the British under a new name, Rajputana.
After Independence, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner and other Rajpur states merged to form the state of Rajasthan with Jaipur as the capital. And even after 273 years after it was founded, Jaipur has retained its unique flavour and old world charm. It is a bustling trading centre with colorfully set bazaars, people sporting turbans, puppet sellers, and festivals and fairs.
Jaipur district is a centre for both traditional and modern industries. It is famous as a large exporter of gold, diamond and stone jewellery in Asia and is the only city finishing blue diamond, or tanzanite, in the world. The prior rulers of Jaipur patronized a number of arts and crafts. They invited skilled artisans, artists and craftsmen from India and abroad.
The different communities settled in various parts of city and made Jaipur their home. As a result, Jaipur is a major hub for various kinds of arts and crafts. Some of the crafts include Bandhani; block printing; stone carving and sculpture; tarkashi; zari, gota, kinari and zardozi; silver jewellery; gems, Kundan, meenakari and jewellery; miniature paintings etc. Not only this, Jaipur is a major tourist destination in India.