Things to see
The original Old City is divided into buildings and courtyards, with the seven-storey Chandra Mahal, or Moon Palace, at its center. Though the city has expanded far beyond its original borders, a good bit of the original wall is still intact. Today, though the ground floor and outer courtyards of the Palace are devoted to a museum, the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum, a former maharajah still occupies a portion of it the palace. The museum has an extensive collection of rare manuscripts, Moghal and Rajasthani miniature paintings, Moghal carpets, costumes and textiles, arms and weapons and other royal objects.
Astronomy in Jaipur
The Maharaja Jai Singh’s interests included the study of astronomy and he sent scholars abroad to study existing observatories before beginning construction in 1728 of the Jantar Mantar observatory, which today is still of keen interest for visitors. He filled the observatory with numerous instruments with which to study the stars; look for the magnificent sundial with a 30 meter high gnomon (the piece that casts the sun’s shadow to show the time) which is said to cast up to a 4 meter shadow. Of the five observatories he constructed, this one is the best preserved.
More in Jaipur
Other structures of note in Jaipur include the Hawa Mahal, or Palace of the Winds, built in 1799 and designed by the architect Lalchand Usta. The five-story structure looks over the heart of the old city and is an excellent example of Rajput work. Maharaja Sawaj Pratap Singh built this palace so that ladies of the court could look out at the bustle of the city but not be seen from the street. The Central Museum south of the old city is housed in Albert Hall in the Ram Niwas Gardens. Expect to see many aspects of Rajasthani life on display, including materials from the rural areas. The Gardens include a zoo.
Expect to see people dressed colourfully and often wearing similarly colourful enamel jewelry called meenakari. Happily, you can buy what you see! Jaipur offers excellent shopping and is especially well-known for semi-precious gemstones. One can also readily buy miniatures, handicrafts, clothes, as well as silver and lac jewelry.