JAIPUR

Business Traveller (India) - - HOSPITALITY -

ink of Ra­jasthan, and the mind con­jures up im­ages of palaces, ne fab­rics and time­less jewels. Jaipur, de­spite be­ing the state’s busy cap­i­tal, is no di er­ent. e city was planned un­der the rule of its founder Jai Singh II. Sev­eral vet­eran ar­chi­tects were con­sulted be­fore nal­is­ing and im­ple­ment­ing the city’s lay­out. ere was a clear de­mar­ca­tion be­tween the ar­eas for royalty and its ad­min­is­tra­tive sta , and the re­main­ing pub­lic. Palaces and op­u­lent gov­ern­ment build­ings oc­cu­pied the for­mer, whereas hum­ble homes and pub­lic fa­cil­i­ties made up the later. To safe­guard this de­vel­op­ment, seven forti ed gates were built all around the city that now sprawls be­yond these walls and con­tin­ues for miles therea er.

While the ac­tual walls and forts are in a sorry state, Fair­mont Jaipur has re­pro­duced a part of them in its magni cent fa­cade.In fact, it goes a step fur­ther with an im­pres­sive e ort at emu­lat­ing how the Ra­jputs and their guests were wel­comed into thecity. Gongs an­nounce the ar­rival of each guest into Fair­mont, fol­lowed by a dot of ver­mil­ion paste be­tween the eye­brows as rose petals are show­ered on them.Nu­ances of Ra­jasthani aes­thetic show in its high ceil­ings, arched win­dows and etched pil­lars — all cre­ated by lo­cal ar­ti­sans and cra smen.

For a real feel of the city’s his­tory though, head to — Hawa Ma­hal, Jal Ma­hal and Sheesh Ma­hal, all within a 20km ra­dius of Fair­mont Jaipur. There is a rea­son they’re known as ar­chi­tec­tural won­ders. Take Hawa Ma­hal for in­stance — it is strate­gi­cally built such that it falls in the path of the winds re­sult­ing in ven­ti­lat­ing the palace dur­ing the still, dry sum­mers. Lo­cated on the city’s beau­ti­ful Man Sagar Lake is Jal Ma­hal that has clear views of the still wa­ter from all its rooms. If you’re stand­ing across it af­ter sun­set, its mir­ror im­age on the still wa­ters is breath­tak­ing. It too was built to cool down the rooms when tem­per­a­tures rose. Quite the op­po­site is Sheesh Ma­hal, planned such that it re­tains heat. Hold­ing it up are 40 pil­lars lay­ered with count­less glass pieces. Each pil­lar is po­si­tioned such that just two can­dles can il­lu­mi­nate the en­tire room.

En­try to Sheesh Ma­hal can be du­bi­ous though, as its of­fi­cials choose to shut it to the pub­lic ad hoc. This is be­cause some vis­i­tors haven’t been kind to the palace, for in­stance dam­ag­ing its mir­rors on pur­pose. How­ever, another Sheesh Ma­hal, or at least a flat­ter­ing im­i­ta­tion of the orig­i­nal one can be found at Samode Palace. The lux­ury prop­erty was once a liv­ing palace 475 years ago, and its Sheesh Ma­hal looks over the Dur­bar Hall. Hand­painted walls and gilded pil­lars de­fine its op­u­lence. Stun­ning lat­tice work con­tinue in its in­te­ri­ors, and the roof is a mo­saic of mir­rors. The rest of the palace too has been beau­ti­fully dressed; walk­ing through this his­toric abode in­tro­duces you to Mughal­style art­work, Indo-Saracenic ar­chi­tec­ture, and tra­di­tional Ra­jasthani decor.

On the face of it, present day Jaipur, as a city, is a stark con­trast to these stun­ning ho­tels. It isn’t as op­u­lent as it once was, yet there is a rus­tic charm to it. While it is one of the first few In­dian cities to have jumped for­ward in terms of econ­omy, its tra­di­tions, cul­ture and his­tory aren’t for­got­ten. Al­ley­ways are crowded with

Fair­mont Jaipur is close to the tourist spots such as Sheesh Ma­hal, Hawa Ma­hal and Jal Ma­hal

the lo­cal pop­u­la­tion in colour­ful saris and dho­tis. Turn any cor­ner and you will en­counter a busy tem­ple. Cy­cle-rick­shaws are ram­pant even to­day and are the best so­lu­tion to beat the traf­fic. Aro­mas of tra­di­tional food in­vari­ably tickle your nose be­cause there is a small eatery beck­on­ing you at ev­ery few steps. It feels like a tu­mul­tuous ride when mov­ing through Jaipur, but when you look at it from afar, the city ra­di­ates a pink hue with hints of a pow­er­ful past and promis­ing fu­ture.

For a 360-de­gree aerial view of the city, head to Alila Fort Bis­hangarh that sits atop a gran­ite hill. Typ­i­cal Jaipur Gha­rana ar­chi­tec­ture shows in the fort that has in­flu­ences of both the Mughals and the Bri­tish. Un­like the other ho­tels in the city, Alila has turned a war­rior fort, in­stead of a palace, into a lux­ury hospi­tal­ity of­fer­ing.

LEFT: Fa­cade, Fair­mont Jaipur TOP: A fort in Jaipur

ABOVE AND RIGHT: Samode Palace, Jaipur; and Alila Fort Bis­hangarh

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