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Jaipur: the Center of Rajasthan
Northwest of Jaipur is the Amber Fort, originally the ancient capital of Kachhawah rulers. Its construction was started in the 17th century and it was never conquered. It is considered one of the most glorious palaces in present day India. The current way to enter the fort (top right) is on the back of an elephant, up ramps that were a part of the original structure12 . The structures in the complex are grouped around a central courtyard (above). They include some of the most ornately decorated in India. Many of the rooms have their walls and ceilings covered with small mirrors, allowing for dispersion of light from candles. The fort. like many such facilities in India are populated with monkeys, which are not bothered by humans.
In the center of the old town in Jaipur is the City Palace built in 1728 by Maharaja Sawait Jai Singh. Today it houses a museum which describes well the period of the Maharajas. 13
Sawait Jai Singh built next to the palace an amazing observatory, still in use today. He spent hours here among massive stone structure studying the stars.14 . The sundial still gives the actual time in Jaipur, accurate to the minute.
One of the temples in Jaipur, built in the 1950's, has three different styles of roofs representing Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim religions as a symbol that all can live together. Carved in marble are those who were considered by the eastern religions as great prophets, including Jesus and Confucius.
One of the best known landmarks in Jaipur is the Hawal Mahal or Palace of the Winds (at left). It has five stories of small overhanging windows covered with lattice screens. The screens allowed the ladies of the harem to view the city below while remaining hidden from the public.
When India became a democracy, and maharajas fell out of favor, many of their palace residences, like the one at right became luxury hotels in Jaipur and throughout the country.
Jaipur is the center for production of many finely crafted items. The worker at left is doing block printing of material by hand. The women are shearing the pile on one of the beautiful woven carpets.
Go to: Delhi - Agra - Orcha - Khajuraho - Varanasi - Katmandu

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