Jaipur is the largest city in Rajasthan and was built in the eighteenth century by Sawai Jai Singh as India's first planned city. Jaipur is a major tourist attraction amongst Indian as well as international travellers. It belongs to the tourist Golden Triangle of Delhi, Jaipur and Agra. It hosts several attractions like the City Palace, Govind Dev ji Temple, Vidhan Sabha, Birla Temple, several massive Rajput forts and so on. It also serves as a stepping stone for travelers heading to the desert cities of Jodhpur and Jaisalmer.
Now Jaipur is growing fast and various development projects are being undertaken by the government and private enterprises. The town planning and infrastructure development in Jaipur is quite above the mark relative to many other Indian cities.
Jaipur is often called the Pink City in reference to its distinctly coloured buildings, which were originally painted this color to imitate the red sandstone architecture of Mughal cities. The present earthy red color originates from repainting of the buildings undertaken for a visit by the Prince of Wales in 1876.
Jaipur gets its name from its founder Maharaja JaiSingh II (1693-1744) the great warrior and astronomer. He came to power at the age of 11 on the death of his father Maharaja Bishan Singh. Jai Singh’s lineage can be traced back to the Kucchwaha Rajput, clan who came to power in the 12th century. They were long-term rivals to the Sisodia Rajputs who ruled from Mewar. This rivalry led them to ally with the Mughals, and this alliance resulted in them eventually gaining a pre-eminent position in Rajasthan.
Ruling from the magnificent Amber Fort which they built, the might of the Kucchwahas encompassed the kingdoms of Mewar (Udaipur) and Marwar (Jodhpur). After Jai Singh came to power, there was moment of disquiet when he supported Aurangzeb’s son Azam Shah’s bid to the throne. Azam Shah lost the battle of succession to his brother Bahadur Shah, who demanded Jai Singh’s removal and the installation of Vijay Singh to the throne of Jaipur. Jai Singh, not one to take setbacks lying down, formed a formidable front against the Mughals by aligning himself with other Rajput states and reinstated himself.
After the dust had settled, peace reigned and the kingdom prospered and its borders expanded. Jai Singh built the city around the Amber fort to serve as his capital, and the city was named Jaipur, after himself. Much of the credit for Jaipur goes to Vidhyadhar Bhattacharya, the chief architect from Bengal who, with Jai Singh’s approval, founded the city on strong scientific principles, laid out according to the Shilpa Shastra, the ancient architectural manual. It remains one of India’s best planned cities.However, expansion meant that the limited sources of water proved inadequate for the city.
After Jai Singh’s death in 1744, his sons squabbled for power and without a monarch, the kingdom became open to invasion and neighboring Rajput states and the Marathas usurped large areas of kingdom. The core, however, remained part of the kingdom, which lasted during British times. As with the Mughals, Jaipur maintained good relations with the British and during the war of independence in 1857 remained loyal to the Raj. Yet, the British gradually began to undermine the independence of the state and exercised greater control over the administration.
In 1876, Maharaja Ram Singh painted the entire city pink, traditionally a colour associated with hospitality, to welcome the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) to the city. The tradition has been maintained and today all residents in the old city are compelled by law to preserve the pink colour. Jaipur got the sobriquet of pink city.
Maharaja Ram Singh also built the Ramgarh Lake to supply water to the burgeoning city. During the 19th and 20th centuries, the city’s population spread beyond its walls. In 1922, Man Singh II ascended to the throne and it was during his reign that civic buildings like the secretariat, schools, hospitals and other public buildings were built. After independence, Jaipur merged with the states of Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Bikaner to form the state of Rajasthan. In 1956, Jaipur became the capital of the state of Rajasthan.