Jaipur, the capital city in the tone of an autumnal sunset, literally blushed pink when Prince Albert, the consort of Queen Victoria, stepped on its soil in 1883. Interspersing the play of red and pink were white borders and motifs, painstakingly outlining the architectural highlights of Jaipur's buildings. Jaipur has been like that since 1727 when Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II had it built that year.
Interestingly, the royal family's earlier residence at Amber, was only 11km away, and had been since the 10th century. Seven hundred years later, the Maharaja chose to raise a "City of Victory", and aptly christened it Jaipur. Co-incidentally, the name also incorporated the first name of the Maharaja thus immortalizing the builder both through his nomenclature of dynasty and concept of ideals.
Jaipur was and remains the only city in the world symbolising the nine divisions of the universe through nine rectangular sectors dividing it. A young Bengali architect, Vidyadhar Bhattacharya formalised the city's plans on the "Shilpa Shastra": the epochal Hindu treatise on architecture, tempering it with the sublimity of Mudhal and Jain influences of the times.
Jaipur's past is never too far from hand. The palaces and forts of the yesteryears that were witness to royal processions and splendor are now living monuments, accepted quite naturally into the lifestyles of the people of the pink city. Except for the busy traffic of bicycles, cars and buses, little seems to have changed. There is a timeless quality to Jaipur's bazzar's and of it's colorful people. Could the women drying chillies under the sun, in the shadow of the fort, have been there a hundred years ago? Could not the jeweller, so carefully crafting the gold and precious stones of his trade, be equally its vision of the future?
Jaipur is a royal city, and this is its most noticeable aspect. Buildings testify to it. Festivals testify to it. Its palace hotels testify to it. The life style of its society testifies to it. And very, obviously, tourists testify to it as they pay homage to the grand capital of princes and kings, a city of the past that belongs to India's future.
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