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Story: There is no person or place in the world that wears pink quite as well as Jaipur. The city was painted in shades of rose for the visit of the Prince of Wales in 1876, a grandiose gesture that is testament both to Indian hospitality and the decadence of its former maharajas. You can only hope that the young Prince Albert appreciated the effort.
Today Jaipur’s avenues and buildings are still cloaked in pink, a colour that reflects light off its sandstone palaces to blinding effect. The sunsets here are warmer, more eyes-on-stalks powerful than perhaps anywhere in the world.
To travel around Jaipur and nearby areas is to be given a lesson in architectural opulence and the highest tiers of manmade beauty. Its intoxicatingly beautiful palaces make Buckingham Palace look like a garden shed. Take, for instance, the honey- and rose-hued Amer Fort palace, which has stood proudly on the mountain beside Maota Lake since the late 16th century.
An icon of Jaipur, Hawa Mahal is a five-storey pyramidal palace which resembles the honeycomb structure of a bee’s nest. It was originally designed to allow royal ladies to watch processions from their windows while avoiding the stares of people below. That men built this intricately designed building – also known as the Palace of the Winds – with their bare hands proves the artistic potential of humanity.
Then there’s Rambagh Palace. Now a luxury hotel, it was first established as a residence for the queen’s favourite handmaiden. Given its elaborate hand-carved stone and latticework, you’d be forgiven for laughing when you hear that it was considered modest when it was built in 1835.
Architecture aside, Jaipur is a haven of creativity. Former rulers invited artists, artisans and craftsmen from India and beyond to make the city their home. Today, as skills have been passed down through generations, their artistic legacy manifests in the continued practice of bandhani, a highly-skilled textile process which involves plucking cloth with fingernails, and hand block printing among many crafts.
A city of colour, light and artistic prowess, Jaipur will saturate your memories for many years to come.
Words by Ella Alexander
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