History and Society of Jaipur

Some of us have lived here for more than 2 decades, while some have joined the city a couple of months or years back. There are still doubts and blurred information regarding the history of the pink city, Jaipur, in the minds of most of us. We have tried to answer some of your questions in the below mentioned article.

Jaipur the capital of Rajasthan state in India was founded in 1727 by Maharaja Jai Singh II, a Kachhwaha Rajput and the Raja of Amer. He came to power when he was just 11 years old because of the demise of his father Maharaja Bishan Singh. Jai Singh ruled the area from 1699-1744.

The Origin

Initially his capital was Amer, which lies at a distance of 11 km from Jaipur. But he felt the need of shifting his capital city with the increase in population and growing scarcity of water. So, he decided to build the city of Jaipur to be his new capital.

The name Jaipur: a Two-in-One Compliment

The name ‘Jaipur’ was a two-in-one compliment as 'Jai' means victory and was also the ruler's first name. Named after its founder Maharaja Jai Singh, the city of Jaipur was later chosen as the capital of Rajasthan state, formed after the amalgamation of various princely states. This was a tribute to both Jai Singh and Bhattacharya.

Jaipur – the First Planned City

Jaipur is the first planned city of India and the King took great interest while designing this city of victory. He studied the architecture of several European cities, drew up plans for constructing a larger and well-planned city and consulted several books on architecture, a number of architects, his best mathematicians, astronomers and the Shilpa Shastra, a traditional Hindu architectural treatise, before making the blueprint for the new city.

Other than utilising his own scientific and cultural interests to build a masterly brilliant city, Jai Singh also sought advice from a Bengali Scholar, Vidyadhar Bhattacharya, who was a Hindu Priest architect (Shaspati), to aid him decide the outline of the city. The foundation stone was laid by him in 1727 and Vidyadhar Bhattacharya was asked to design the 'Pink City’. The entire city layout was planned under the architectural supervision of Vidyadhar Bhattacharya, who referred the ancient Indian literature on astronomy, books of Ptolemy and Euclid, the principles of Vaastu Shastra and Shilpa Shastra and discussed the city’s layout plan with the Maharaja.

The Architecture: The Concept of Nine

With a strategic plan, the construction of the city started in 1727. It took around 4 years to complete all the major palaces, roads and squares.

Following the principles of Shilpa Shastra, the Indian Architecture, the town of Jaipur is, in fact, built in a grid system, a nine-part Mandala (9 major divisions/blocks) known as the 'Pithapada'. Nine signifies the nine planets of the pre-historic astrological zodiac signs. It is also known that Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II was himself a great astronomer and town planner and hence the 'Pithapada' is an outcome of his astronomical knowledge.

Also, the commercial shops designed were in multiples of nine (27) and then had one cross street for the planet.

The central of the seven rectangles comprised the City Palace complex, containing the palace itself, the administrative quarters, the Jantar Mantar (the amazing astronomical observatory) and the Janana Mahals (women's palaces), which housed the many wives of the Maharaja.

Fortified Walls Around Jaipur – Built for Safety

After many experiences of several battles with the Marathas, Maharaja Jai Singh was concerned about the security aspect of the city of Jaipur. Therefore, to ensure the security, Jaipur city was encircled by huge fortification walls which opened at seven strong gates. These huge ramparts built surrounding the city strengthened the security of the city.

Architecturally the Best City in the Indian Sub-Continent

In that time and era, the architecture of Jaipur was highly developed and advanced in terms of both technicality and beautification. The city undoubtedly, was architecturally the best city in the Indian sub-continent that time!

Jaipur Got Its New Name – The Pink City

During the reign of Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh, in 1853, the Prince of Wales visited Jaipur. Being the city known for its warmth and hospitality, the entire city was painted Pink, the colour of hospitality, to welcome him. It was then that the famous pink colour symbolising welcome was recognised.

The buildings that remained painted pink, not only gave the city a distinctive look but, also gave birth to its epithet, the Pink City.

Even today, the neat and broadly laid-out avenues painted in pink provide a dreamy charm to the city. The colour was chosen after several experiments to cut down the intense glare from the reflection of the blazing rays of the sun. To this day, the buildings are uniformly rose pink.

First Sizable City in North India

Jaipur was the first sizable city in north India to be built from scratch. Jaipur is rich in its cultural and architectural beauty, which can be traced in the various historical and aesthetic places that form the heart of the city. This city of victory really wins the hearts of the people with its charm and hospitality.

Arriving Jaipur? – Unleash Its Beauty

Arriving Jaipur through the narrow pass in the hills? - You are presented with a view of the honey colored Amer Fort Palace that conforms to every expectation of how a romantic Rajput fort should appear to be. It rambles over a rugged hill, reflected in the Maota Lake below. The odd elephant plods up the ramparts road. In Amber village, which clusters around the hill, gem-cutters smoothen and cut stones, the faithful go to mosques and temples, and children run around the royal chhatris(mausoleums) and decaying houses.

Inside Amber Fort or the Amer Fort, the contrast is sharp - the grand painted gateway, the hall for public audience that made even the Mughal Emperor jealous, pools and cascades to cool the air in summer heat, and the hall mirrors inlaid with tiny pieces of glass so that a single flame creates a room for a thousand bejewelled stars.

A circle of protective hills surrounds all this, and snaking up these hills are crenulated walls punctuated by look-our posts. On the highest ridge and overlooking the valley is the Jaigarh Fort, a spectacular display of defense.

Rajputs’ Association with the Mughals Much Before Jaipur

The power to create such a strong fort like the Jaigarh Fort enclosing such beauty was built up over several generations. Raja Bihar Mal made the first move. Recognizing Mughal power, he paid homage to Emperor Humayun and led a 5,000-strong army for him. Then he ensured to be the first Rajput presented at Akbar's court. His big chance came when Akbar made his first annual pilgrimage to Ajmer, the burial place of a Muslim saint, which lies in the Kachhwaha territory. On a visit to Akbar's tent, Bihar Mal gave his daughter Jodha to be the Emperor's wife and his adopted grandson, Man Singh, into royal service. The daughter finally gave Akbar his first son, who became Emperor Jahangir.

The next ruler, Bhawan Das, cemented the alliance and gave a daughter to be Jahangir's wife. Then came the two rulers who built Amber; Man Singh, a leading general under both Akbar and Jahangir, and Jai Sing I, a military and diplomatic genius who brought the house of Amber to its apogee at the Mughal court.

On the throne aged 11, Jai Singh I was soon commanding a Mughal force for Jahangir, then fought all over the Mughal empire for Shah Jahan and finally backed the right side in the war for succession and became Emperor Aurangzeb’s most prized Rajput commander. All this time, the Kachhwaha coffers were filling with prizes, rewards and booty.

Winning the Title of ‘Sawai’

Three rulers later, Jai Singh II, another child prodigy, came to the throne. The young lad quickly impressed the 71-year-old Aurangzeb, who awarded him the title 'Sawai', meaning one-and-a-quarter.

Even today, the flag flying above the City Palace in Jaipur has an extra quarter-sized one next to it.

The Observatories by Jai Singh II

Jai Singh II, having proved his soldiering ability further enriched his coffers, which he then utilized in fulfilling his passion for arts and sciences. The impressive giant stone instruments which he devised for the open-air observatories at Jaipur (Jantar Mantar), Delhi, Ujjain and Varanasi stand testimony to his scientific prowess.

After building close bonds with the Mughals and making sure that there could be no danger to his throne, Jai Singh, envisioned his dream project, the building of Jaipur, which we have already talked about.

Post the Death of Jaipur’s Jai Singh

After Jai Singh died in 1773, a battle for succession followed and the Marathas and Jats, who were making advances in various parts of the country, also decided to try their luck. Jaipur lost large chunks of territory with the ruler playing second fiddle the fast growing East India Company.

Treaty with the British: Coming under the name of ‘Rajputana’

In 1818, Maharaja Jagat Singh of Jaipur along with several Maharajas of the north-west princely states, signed a treaty with the British under which they could continue to have control of their states, but would be collectively supervised by the British under a new name, Rajputana.

Post-independence in 1947

After India’s Independence, the princely states of Jaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner and other Raiput states were merged to form the state of Rajasthan, where Jaipur was chosen to serve the capital.

Jaipur Today: 289 Years After

Even 289 years after it was founded, Jaipur has retained its unique flavour and old world charm. It is a bustling trading centre with colourfully set bazaars, people sporting blood-red turbans, puppet sellers, and festivals and fairs.

Society of Jaipur: The People Here

It is the people of any place who make the society. The people of Jaipur are friendly and warm. They sport colourful outfits and ethnic jewellery that exhibit the culture of Jaipur in a beautiful way. They love to perform folk dances to the tunes of Rajasthani folk songs. The main language of Jaipur is Rajasthani. However, Marwari, Hindi and English are also spoken in the city.

Arts and Handicrafts: From the Times of the Rajput and Mughal Rulers

The Mughal and Rajput rulers used to invite skilled artists and craftsmen from India and abroad to display art and to share their talent with the people of Jaipur. Many of them settled here leading to development of Jaipur as a haven of rich art and culture. Some widely recognised arts include the works of Bandhani, Block Printing, Stone Carving and Sculpture, Tarkashi, Zari, Gota, Kinari and Zardozi, Silver Jewellery, Gems finishing, Kundan-Meenakari jewellery, Miniature paintings, Blue Pottery, Ivory carving, Shellac work, Leather ware, etc.

More About Jaipur

The people of Jaipur love scrumptious cuisines like the famous Dal Bati Churma, Missi Roti and sweets like Ghewar, Phini and Monthaal. Rajasthani cuisines use a lot of ghee and butter in their preparation.

Also, they celebrate a lot of vibrant fairs and festivals that depict the culture and the colourful spirit of the pink city. Some popular festivals include Gangaur festival, Teej festival, Makar Sankranti (the Kite Flying festival) and the upcoming Jaipur Literature Festival.

Lifestyle in Jaipur

With a wonderful combination of ancient royal heritage and ultra-modern lifestyle, the pink city displays a cool presentation of urban lifestyle. As the old forts and havelis are used as premier hotels, similarly this old royal city has wrapped itself with new attire of modernity but its roots are still maintained in its legacy and tradition. Jaipur has radically transformed from what it looked 10 years back. Did I mention that Jaipur will be India’s first city selected for the smart city project?

The city is worth paying a visit. The culture of Jaipur facilitates us with a holistic view of not only Rajasthan but also with the culture of India.

When you see the Jaipur city today, it is all modernized and developed. You get to see well-built roads, classy flyovers, multi-storey buildings, furnished apartments, malls and booming infrastructure. Fancy bikes, luxury cars and other motor vehicles run on the roads with some occasional camel or elephant passing by in the city area. But this wasn’t the scene some hundred years ago. Would you like to go back to Jaipur in the old times?


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