Sunday, 7 May 2017

The High Places Of Jaipur

Introduction

The city of Jaipur is naturally endowed with a strong line of defense - the Aravallis that surround it. The hills - and the monuments there - have a commanding view of the city that spreads out below. Commanding views can be had from other places too in Jaipur. And its a fun thing too - sitting perched on a high place dissociated from the groundedness of the city sprawl below and feeling the wind rush on around you as the city goes about in its awkward, urban rhythm; almost like birds, almost.

Lights go on in Jaipur after sunset - captured at Nahargarh

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Hawa Mahal

Hawa Mahal as a building has a very simple concept - check the city for the usual wind direction, build a thin sheet-like structure with as many windows as possible and then give the windows small panes. Voila! You have a perfectly ventilated veil-like structure from where the royal ladies can observe the happenings of the city below without being seen themselves!

 The one-roomed thickness of the Hawa Mahal

 A view of the Isarlat tower from the side windows

 Isarlat and the giant sundial of Jantar Mantar are seen from this window

The structure was built in 1799 and has five storeys - Sharad Mandir, Ratan Mandir, Vidhitra Mandir, Prakash Mandir and Hawa Mandir - each set out for a different purpose.

 
The levels of Hawa Mahal seen from the inside

Now, Hawa Mahal is not technically a place where one would go just for the city-view. But then, check this one and judge for yourself!

 The vista from the top ...
L-R: Isarlat, Jantar Mantar, City Palace and Nahargarh

Hawa Mahal is a ticketed monument located on the Bari Chaupar. Entry costs Rs50 per person.

And this is the front view we all came for :)


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Isarlat (Sargasuli)

Isarlat is one of the more neglected monuments in the Jaipur tourist circle. Ofcourse, one reason for this being that the tower - a victory tower at that - is no architectural marvel nor one replete in any significant artistry. As one ascends the unadorned and slippery concrete slopes (steps?), the entire point of this 140 feet, seven storeyed structure seems to be more and more pointless.

 The Isarlat (Sargasuli) Tower

 The sloping stairs and whitewashed walls

Its only when one gets to the small top storey, feels the wind rush about and sets his eyes on the expanse of the city spread out below, that the effort seems worthwhile. One should excuse the pigeon-poop though.

 Looking over the City Palace and Jantar Mantar

 Looking towards Nahargarh

Isarlat is a ticketed monument located near Tripolia Bazaar. Entry costs Rs50 per person.

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Nahargarh Fort

Nahargarh is the quintessential sunset point for the city of Jaipur. This small fort lies on the spur of hill overlooking the north-eastern part of the city. Consequently, the sunsets over Jaipur are best seen from here. The Madhavendra Palace with its nine apartments is the main monument on the fort and sees a flock of visitors at sundown.

The terraces of Madhavendra Palace

Frescoes at the Madhavendra Palace 

The main sunset point though is occupied by the Padaav restaurant whose only apparent USP is the location. Entry to the restaurant cost Rs100 in addition to the Rs50 entry charges for Madhavendra Palace and gets you a seat with a view with a complimentary drink of your choice.

 The sun sets over the Padaav (left)

Ofcourse there are other places which offer a brilliant view and they can be found with a bit of exploration. Be warned that the security personnel may not take kindly to these adventures (for obvious reasons).

 
 Sunset over the fort walls

 
 Just after the sun disappears

The fort can be approached by road via the road to Amer and Jaigarh. A better approach is a short trek via the Nahargarh road. The trek leads to the tank/lake of the fort - immortalized by the 'Paathshala' of Rang De Basanti. The Madhavendra Palace and the sunset point is a short walk away.

The trek/bike path up to Nahargarh

 The stepped tank of the 'Paathshala'

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Galta Ji Temples

At the eastern periphery of the city, beyond the eponymous Galta Gate lies the temple complex of Galtaji. The route from the gate ascends a small hill with a Surya (Sun) Temple on top. As one ascends this path, one gets the feeling of slowly losing the bond with the city below.

 
 The path ascends

The Sun Temple

The view from the top

And then the path descends on the other side to the Hanuman Temple - the tranquility and peace at this point is beyond compare. You've just walked 15mins away from one of the busier roads of Jaipur and now find yourself in a place which feels far, far removed from the chaos of Jaipur.

 
 Looking over the valley of Galtaji

Galta Dham lies beyond this point and has a pond fed by a trickle of water from the mountain, a few temples and an two ashrams - all nestled in a shallow valley between hills.The ashrams feature beautiful frescoes.

The pond at Galta ji

A priest at the gate of an ashram temple

 Some frescoes at the ashram

The area also has quite a lot of monkeys and is popularly known as the Monkey Temple. Its a fun thing to watch them go about their lives. The monkeys, thankfully, don't disturb the people on the trail.

Class: Animalia ... Mode: Resting

Monkeys at a tank near the Hanuman Temple

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Jaigarh Fort

While tripping through Jaipur, I was a little short of time. That lead me to miss the actual highest place in the Pink City - the Jaigarh Fort. The fort houses the Jaivana - one of the largest cannons in India. I trust the view from there would be fantastic at the very least.

 The Jaigarh Fort as seen from Amer

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Getting Around

All the places listed here are easily approached by public transport. And yes, public transport is actually efficient to a decent degree in Jaipur. If not, rickshaws are aplenty.

Camels are an option too :)

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Signing Off

Jaipur actually has a lot to see. There's the City Palace, the Amer Fort and temples, the Jantar Mantar complex, the Gaitore complex, the Jal Mahal ... the list goes on! Add some bargain shopping to that and easy accommodation (even backpacker class) and then there's no reason to have given this place a miss. For those of who who plan to head there soon, do keep an eye on these perches!

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