25 June 2024

Jaipur, India's pink World Heritage City

Construction on India’s mag­nificent Amber Fort began in 1592 by Mahar­aja Man Singh, a commander in the army of the Mughal emperor Akbar. It was built so the Mughal ruler could spread his power to cover the king­doms of Udaipur and Jodh­pur. So when Mah­ar­aja Bishan Singh (1672-99) later took the throne, he was the first ruler of Amer to take over with­out any status in the Mughal nobility. Bishan didn’t care since his lineage was traced back to the Rajput clan who came to power in the C12th. In any case, the Jaipur kings had always preferred diplomacy over arms in dealing with the Mughals, since their kingdom was located too close to the Mughal power cen­tres of Delhi and Agra.

Furthermore Bishan knew that his son Jai Singh would reach great­ness if the lad was well educat­ed, trained by the best Indian sch­ol­ars in art, science, phil­osophy and mil­it­ary aff­airs. Note that Maharaja Jai Singh II (1688-1744) was a young lad when he came to power, after his very young father Bishan died in 1699.

Jaigarh Fort 

In time Jai Singh became a great leader and Jaipur city got its name from the new Maharaja. When Jai Singh was 15, Jaipur City st­arted to acquire architectural wonders. Jaigarh Fort was designed and per­fectly created in 1726, its huge structure being a true reflect­ion of a glorious royal era. Naturally the fort was adorned in royal beauty, adding to the city’s rich culture. The red sand­stone was already start­ing to be a predominant material used in Rajput and Mughal forts. 

The might of the Mughal Empire was then at its peak. So Jai Singh II formed a tough front against the Mughals by al­igning with other Raj­put states. Peace reigned, the kingdom prosp­ered and its borders expanded. It housed some of the country's most ornate royal palac­es, structures designed in early C18th that still impress today.

However city expansion tested the limited water sources, and credit for Jaipur’s growth success went to the chief arch­itect from Ben­g­al. With Jai Singh’s ap­proval, they grew the city on strong scient­ific princ­ip­les, laid out according to the Shastra-ancient archit­ectural manual. Con­ceiv­ed as a com­mercial centre of Rajasthan State, it was ground-breaking due its care­ful city planning.

After Jai Singh’s death in 1744, his sons struggled for power. Without a monarch, the kingdom was open to invasion; neigh­bouring Rajput states and the Marathas tried to grab large areas of the kingdom. So Jaipur remained sur­rounded by a city wall and def­ensive forts. The city's influential sites continued in a Rajasthani arch­it­ect­ural style, combining the com­plex con­struct­ion of Hindu Rajput building techniques with the visible symm­etry of Mughal design.   

Hawa Mahal

Later one red sandstone palace became very popular: historic Hawa Ma­hal in 1799 as an extension of City Pal­ace by the then King of Jaipur, Mahar­a­ja Sawai Singh; see the building’s straight facade and hund­reds of win­dows.
City Palace

Like the Mughals, Jai­pur maintained good relations with the Bri­t­ish and in the 1857 War of Independence, remained loyal to the Raj. Yet the British gradual­ly undermined the independ­ence of the state and exercised great­er control over its admin­is­tration. So when Prince Albert was soon to make his first visit to India in 1875, the Mah­araja thought it was a great oppor­t­­unity to decorate Jai­pur as a wel­­coming gesture to im­pr­ess Queen Vic­tor­ia's husband Prince Albert in India. The maharaja really want­ed the Pr­ince to visit Jaipur, to build strong rel­at­­ions with the U.K. The Mahar­aja Sawai Ram Singh II’s favourite wife loved the old pink co­lour sch­eme and convinced her husband to pass a law making it il­le­gal for buildings to be painted any other colour than Jai­p­ur Pink. This 1877 law helped transform the dirty city into a totally lovely city. And still so remains today.

Colonial rule helped this Maharaja of Jaipur (reigned 1835-80) who was one of the richest and most pow­er­ful men in India, an Indian man who im­pressed the British court like no other. This Maharaja had the whole city painted pink ter­r­acotta, the colour of hosp­it­al­ity. And he also had the lav­ish Albert Concert Hall built in 1876, designed by Sir Samuel Swinton Jacob after London’s Victoria and Albert Museum and named in Prince Albert’s honour. It stood in the lovely Ram Niwas Pub­lic gardens. During Prince Albert’s long 17 weeks visit in 1876, they conducted royal duties across the Indian sub-continent, plenty of Indian rulers gave Albert expensive gifts to show their hos­pit­ality. Only when Albert visit­ed Jaipur and saw its gorg­eous pink sites, he called it Pink City and the nickname remained.

 Albert Hall

Jaipur City grew rapidly! Maharaja Ram Singh (ruled 1835-1880) built Ramgarh lake to further supply water to the big city, when the city’s population was spreading beyond its walls. In 1922 Jaipur’s Maharaja Man Singh II (reigned 1922-47) ascended the throne and built civic buildings like schools, secretariat, hospitals etc. After ind­ependence, Jaipur merged with the states of Jodhpur and Jaisalmer to become the greater Rajasthan union. Man Singh II was given charge of the new province but in 1956, Jaipur became the capital of the state of Rajasthan.

Jaipur became a World Heritage site when UNESCO Director General Aud­rey Azoulay, in Albert Hall Jaipur in 2020, presented the do­c­umentation to Min­ister of Urban Development. From forts to pal­aces, streets to festiv­als, Jaip­ur’s charm in all its shades of pink still provide mesm­erising heritage and architecture. Its population is now over 3 million people.   

Mahal Water Palace

Map of Jaipur in India


Joe said...

Being a tourist in Jaipur was exciting, but it was hot enough during the November-March part of the year. 35c or more in summer is intolerable.

Margaret D said...

What beautiful buildings and their colours Hels.
Prince Albert did stay a long time.
Thanks for sharing and I often think it must take some researching to type the facts and so on to share with us. You do a wonderful job on that and I personally enjoy reading and learning.
Thank you.

Katerinas Blog said...

Every time I read your post I get more and more excited! What a beautiful city, but also your information and writing style is very interesting. The history of our city shows that behind a powerful man is a powerful woman (Sawai Ram Singh II loved the old color pink and persuaded her husband to pass a law banning the painting of buildings in any color other than Jaipur Pink ). It looks like an amazing city and it's nice that it's a World Heritage Site. Thank you so much Hels it's like giving us a gift with every post you make (I can only imagine how much work goes into this).

un[travel] said...

Thank you to un[travel] for Jaipur – Off the beaten trail in The ‘Pink’ City.

6 hours away from New Delhi, grand palaces and haveli is surrounded by mighty fortresses make Jaipur a welcome respite from high-rise malls and urban living. Take time off to watch a potter at work. Look out for the odd camel strolling through Jaipur’s busy streets making your way past hawkers and cycle rickshaws against a backdrop of vibrant terracotta edifices. Stopover for the cultural show at Chowki Dhani before heading to the world’s largest sundial at Jantar Mantar, Amer Fort, and the Palace of Winds, Hawa Mahal, overlooking Johari Bazaar. If you’re lucky enough to be untravelling Jaipur during Holi in March, watch spectacularly bedecked elephants in action at elephant-polo.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Hels - I've missed out on India ... but the Pink City is amazing isn't it. Cheers Hilary

jabblog said...

Sandstone is a very soft rock, isn't it? I'm surprised these buildings are still standing.

Jo-Anne's Ramblings said...

Wow these pictures are stunning, never heard of Jaipur City till now, so I thank you for telling us about it, the nickname Pink City sounds likes it fits the place

Andrew said...

It looks beautiful and I should think a place not to miss when visiting India.

Parnassus said...

Hello Hels, Jaipur seems exotic, but for the time being Shaker Heights, Ohio will have to do. To change the subject, a while ago you wrote about artists showing women doing domestic work. Too bad you missed the recent exhibit at the Cleveland Museum of Art: Degas and the Laundress: Women, Work, and Impressionism. Apparently there was more behind these "domestic" pictures than meets the eye, and they had their own symbolism going on.


This article gives more details and explanations:


River said...

Beautiful buildings.

hels said...

Agreed Joe.
After the terrible haj experience, tourists to Jaipur should be very careful to wear a good hat and to carry plenty of cold water

hels said...

Prince Albert had a wonderful trip across India where the Indian authorities treated him like top royalty... And rebuilt buildings in his honour.

Perhaps he wanted to be named the next Emperor.

Ирина Полещенко said...

Hello, dear Helen! This is a a very beautiful city! It's great you tell about it in your post.

Ирина Полещенко said...

It would be nice to go sightseeing in Jaipur.

Hels said...


Maharajah Ram Singh II wanted to impress his British contemporaries so he remade Jaipur as a progressive city. The city buildings had already been painted in blush and rose in the C19th to welcome Prince Albert in 1875. And the wide, laid out avenues were also painted in pink.

Later a law was passed by the Maharajah to maintain the pink colour for all _new_ buildings. I hope it was the Mahar­aja Sawai Ram Singh II’s wife who convinced her husband :)

Hels said...


many thanks. Hopefully my readers will find your post very seductive. I tended to concentrate on the city's architecture, but I was excited to read about foods and festivals in Jaipur.

Hels said...


now that Covid restrictions are largely ended, and before we get too old to travel around unfamiliar countries for the first time, you must plan to visit Jaipur. If you have time, energy and money, also visit the whole state of Rajasthan in northern India.

Hels said...


sandstone is a material that is both readily available in Rajasthan and is durable for use of building walls. It has good natural thermal properties, which means it helps in keeping buildings' interiors cool during hot summers and warm during cold winters for longer than other building materials. And sandstone can be profitably sealed, if the building needs it.

Hels said...


The biggest cities in India are Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai, so I suspect that most foreign tourists would be attracted away from Jaipur. But that would be a shame if you travelled from Australia and didn't see Jaipur's charms.

Hels said...


the mosques, temples, forts, war memorials, British Raj treasures, beaches, palaces, hill stations, pilgrimage sites etc are super to visit, affordable and tourists are made very welcome. I would go back in a heartbeat but this time I would plan the tour much better, before leaving Melbourne.

But be careful about 3 issues: high humidity, lunatic drivers and diarrhoea from cooked foods.

Hels said...


I missed the exhibition but the catalogue, "Degas and the Laundress: Women, Work and Impressionism" by Britany Salsbury looks like a brilliant PhD thesis. I thank you warmly.

Hels said...


I thought I would get sick of the pink everywhere in Jaipur, but it was actually very soothing and welcoming.

Hels said...


Good to see you! Every city in most countries has its own beauty (and its own awful bits) but Jaipur seems to have more beauty than other Indian cities. Note that it is not a tiny city.. it has well over 3 million people.

diane b said...

A great post. I learnt a lot of history here. The buildings and architecture are amazing. They are so detailed and complex to have been built so long ago.

Hels said...


You are correct about the architectural details we can see outside the buildings. But we know that sandstone is also a wonderful material for human statues, Buddhas, elephants, fish, birds, murals, entrance gates and temples. You have to get up close to see those amazing decorative elements.

DUTA said...

India's a favorite of mine due to its various products and alternative practices (ayurveda) that I like.
Now, after reading your post, I've added Jaipur Pink city to the list. Such superb buildings!!

hels said...

Everyone has a favourite spot in their memories, even if they haven't actually been visited. Mine e London, Tel Aviv, Paris, Vienna and Prague where I have been many times, so decided the world is too big and diverse to limit myself to Europe. The husband now loves Japan and I love India.

Mandy said...

How beautiful. I remember a blogger I knew used to return often to Jaipur and post beautiful photos. Sadly she deleted her blogs. I'm getting to a stage in life now where I need to carefully curate my bucket list or I'll never achieve all my travel dreams. Sadly, India isn't on the list but Sri Lanka is

Hels said...


before I write a blog post of my own, I always look to see if any other blogger has written helpfully on my topic. I didn't find much on Jaipur, but I would have wept had I seen that someone's beautiful photos had once been published and were now deleted.

I had to vigorously reduce my travel bucket list after 3.5 years of Covid and another year of relative poverty :(

Hels said...


I hope you do get there. The most pleasant time to visit Jaipur is November to March when the temperature is pleasant and the humidity is ok-ish.

Do as much reading as you can, before leaving home, to use your time in Rajasthan profitably.

Gattina said...

Beautiful ! Thanks to an Indian workmate and his French wife I learned a lot about India and also their cultures ! I have never been in this corner of the world, although I have traveled quite a lot !

Hels said...


that is true for so many people! We read or hear detailed information about places we have never been to, and become very interested in visiting. But our old age, retirement, ill health, overseas wars or family responsibilities make it difficult to travel widely. Thank your Indian workmate on my behalf :)