Tale of the 'Pink City'

Written by FE Online | Mumbai | Updated: Aug 28 2014, 22:14pm hrs
Hawa MahalHawa Mahal
Some three decades ago Bengaluru and Jaipur were projected as the two cities that were growing on a frenetic speed in terms of population, urbanisation and lifestyle. Thirty years later though no dipstick survey has recently been done, the result perhaps still holds true. The city of gardens may have taken a quantum leap over the pink city in terms of infrastructure what with its IT-city status, the incontrovertible fact remains that Jaipur as a city can hold its own against the best.

Consider this: every third foreign tourist coming to India visits Jaipur. Fortunately for Jaipur, the existing government has been sensitive to the fact that the city needed to conserve its heritage for one; and that it needed to bolster its infrastructure, for another. Some earnest efforts have been made in this direction. It need not be forgotten that Jaipur is the first planned city of the country. Founded by the astronomer prince Sawai Jai Singh and constructed in 1727 the city was planned by the great architect-designer Vidhyadhar Bhattacharya following the grid system. Surrounded by a fortified walled; guarded by seven gates, the city is an impeccable example of town-planning.

The citys historical monuments have witnessed some high class restoration, upkeep and maintenance. The restoration of Amber is a case-in-point as is the declaration of the Jantar Mantar as a World Heritage Site due to the efforts of the art and culture department. The City Palace Museum has also become an important cultural hub. The Palace continues to organise various cultural events throughout the year.

Jaipur being the hub of the entire state provides a multiple experience here in terms of the old city with its ochre-pink buildings and well planned streets; the modern city with its five star hotels and contemporary lifestyle. The city has as many as 10 heritage hotels which provide an out-of-this-world experience to a tourist coming here.

Jaipur is known as the Mecca of Polo and apart from the world famed Rambagh Polo ground; it has four other polo grounds being managed by the armys only horse regiment, 61 Cavalry and some former polo players. The Rajasthan Polo Club can organise a polo match and equestrian activities for visitors as and when required. The main polo season is in January when the city witnesses some of the top high handicapped teams slugging it out on the polo field. For the upper crust as well as the nouveau riche of Jaipur, it is a matter of pride to be seen at the polo matches in the afternoon and the polo dinners at night.

Though a number of multiplexes have come-up in the city the craze for the Rajmandir movie hall continues unabated. Innumerable are the tourists especially the domestic ones who have high on their place-to-visit-agenda this cinema hall.

Jaipur and its adjoining resorts on the highways have become a popular getaway destination for a weekend. Come Friday, industrialists, businessmen, diplomats, all come to the pink city to let their hair down shopping, partying, golfing, or just relaxing. For the past few years a unique feature that has emerged of the city is that the foreign tourists continue to stay on during the terribly hot months of May and June.

In terms of other sports golf also stands out. The Rambagh Golf Club, now known as the JDA Golf Club has a number of members. The game has indeed become popular among the younger generation as well as the corporate captains of the city.

Jaipur has also emerged as an important business destination. Apart from the sprouting of luxury hotels, the Birla Auditorium is one of the best locations in the country for holding business conventions, as is the Rambagh Palaces SMS convention centre. These two centres have witnessed some of the finest cultural extravaganzas as well as top industry-conventions.

Jaipur is also known for its major fairs and festivals. In a short span of time the Jaipur Literature Festival has become the best among the Pan Asian countries. Similarly, Jaipur Jewellery Show (JJS) which began in 2004 as a relatively small fair has now emerged as the most important jewellery fair of the northern India and second most important fair in the entire country.

While some pubs and so-called discos have come up in the city the music being provided in these centres is at best sub-standard. Some of the best such hanging-out places are Henrys at Park Plaza, Back to Basics at the Country Inn, Tablu Caf at Hotel Clarks Amer, TC near the Deer Park, among others.

Niros continues to be the favourite eatery of the city for many tourists as well as the local populace. The legend goes that owing to paucity of time a French group once missed out on visiting the City Palace Museum rather than missing a meal at Niros. Other popular eating joints are LMB, Peshawari (Rajputana Sheraton), Cinnamon (Jal Mahal Palace), Four Seasons, Copper Chimney and Spice Court.

Nevertheless, ones trip to the pink city can become a memorable one with beautifully laid out gardens and parks, attractive monuments and marvelous heritage hotels, once the residence of Maharajas not to mention the ambling camels and cheerful people in multi-hued costumes.