The Pink City | Jaipur
Welcome to Jaipur! The capital city of Rajasthan, home to The Best Marigold Hotel, and, conveniently, a city built in my favourite colour.
Jantar Mantar is basically an observatory. It's a collection of nineteen astronomical instruments built by Sawai Jai Singh, a Rajput king, and completed in 1734 CE. The stone and brass instruments were built using ancient Hindu Sanskrit design principles and allows one to see astronomical positions with the naked eye. What are astronomical positions?, I hear you cry. Well, it's stuff like the time and zodiac signs. Pretty clever stuff for big blocks of stone. The time-telling instruments (perhaps more commonly known as clocks) are similar to giant sundials: where the shadow follows indicates local Jaipur time, and to get standard Indian time, you have to add about 11 minutes on but thus changes daily. It's actually surprisingly accurate. There's also an instrument that looks like a giant bowl in the ground with a metal disc hanging above it in the centre - the shadow of this disc shows which zodiac sign we're currently in. Jantar Mantar is definitely an interesting place to visit but I'd suggest hiring a guide or you'll have no clue what's going on. The site is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site!
Amer Fort / Amber Fort
This incredible fort is actually located in the town of Amer, just 11km from Jaipur. Again this Fort was also declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013 and is one of the main tourist attractions in the area. The Fort was built in 1592 by Raja Man Singh and combines both Hindu and Muslim design elements (such as using red sandstone in homage to Muslim architecture and marble for Hindu architecture). The Fort consists of four levels, each with their own courtyard, and there's the usual men's part and women's part. Whilst the interior isn't as interesting as the palace in Udaipur (perhaps in part due to the tour guide's knowledge), the views are breathtaking and the attention to detail in the design is also amazing.
Palace of the Winds
Also known as 'Hawa Mahal', the Palace of the Winds is located in the heart of Jaipur. The sole purpose of the palace was to entertain the women of the royal household. Women were not allowed to be seen or to really go outside, and so they inevitably grew bored. To combat their boredom, this palace was built so that they could watch the comings and goings on Jaipur's Main Street - all behind the screens, of course. The 'winds' part of the name refers to the 100+ windows that created a natural air conditioning system and kept the palace cool even in the heat of summer - how considerate.
Also known as the 'Water Palace' is a palace that was built in the . . . err . . . middle of some water - a lake to be precise, the Man Sagar Lake. In the 18th century both the palace and the surrounding lake were enlarged by Maharaja Jai Singh II. I'm planning on moving in during the summer months.