Rajasthan The Heritage State- Jaipur
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Jaipur gets its name from its founder Maharaja Jai Singh II, the great warrior and astronomer, who ruled between 1693 and 1743. Jai Singh came to power at the age of 12 on the death of his father Maharaja Bishan Singh. The maharaja was told that his son would achieve greatness in his lifetime and he set out to ensure that Jai Singh had a good education. He was trained by the best teachers and scholars in art, science, philosophy and military affairs. His scholastic background matched his innate wits.
Jai Singh's lineage can be traced back to the Kucchwaha Rajput clan who came to power in the 12th century. They built the magnificent Amber Fort and their might spread to the northeast of present day Jaipur encompassing the kingdoms of Mewar (Udaipur) and Marwar (Jodhpur). At the time, the might of the Moghul Empire was at its peak and recognising it, the Kucchwahas aligned themselves with the Moghuls.
When Jai Singh came to power, there was a moment of disquiet when he supported Aurangzeb's son, Azam Shah's bid to the throne. Azam Shah lost the battle of succession to his brother Bahadur Shah who demanded Jai Singh's removal and the installation of Vijay Singh to the throne of Jaipur. Jai Singh, not one to take setbacks lying down, formed a formidable front against the Mughals by aligning himself with other Rajput states and reinstated himself.
After the dust had settled, peace reigned and the kingdom prospered and its borders expanded. However expansion meant that the limited sources of water proved inadequate for the city. It prompted the maharaja to start work on a new city, which he named Jaipur, after himself.
Much of the credit for Jaipur goes to Vidyadhar Chakravarti, chief architect from Bengal who with Jai Singh's approval founded a city on strong scientific principles. Laid out according to the Shilpa Shastra, an ancient Hindu treatise on architecture, it still remains one of India's best planned cities. The small villages surrounding the new city were incorporated within and the city itself divided into wide boulevards, flanked by stalls of equal size, forming seven rectangles called mohallas.
Jai Singh's interest in the arts, sciences and religion fostered their development and the royal court became a centre of intellectual and artistic ferment.
After Jai Singh's death in 1744, the obvious happened - his sons squabbled for power and without a monarch, the kingdom became open to invasion and neighbouring Rajput states and the Marathas usurped large areas of territory.
As with the Moghuls, Jaipur maintained good relations with the British and during the War of Independence in 1857, remained loyal to the Raj. Yet, the British gradually began to undermine the independence of the state and exercised greater control over the administration.
In 1876, Maharaja Ram Singh did something that earned Jaipur its sobriquet. He painted the entire old city pink, traditionally a colour associated with hospitality, to welcome the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) to the city. The tradition has been maintained and today all residents in the old city are compelled by law to preserve the pink colour. Maharaja Ram Singh also built Ramgarh lake to supply water to the burgeoning city and during the 19th and 20th centuries the city's population spread beyond its walls.
In 1922 Man Singh II, Jaipur's last maharaja ascended the throne and it was during his reign that civic buildings like the secretariat, schools, hospitals etc. were built.
After Independence, Jaipur merged with the states of Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Bikaner to become the Greater Rajasthan Union. Man Singh II was bestowed with the title of Rajapramukh and given charge of the new province. The title was later revoked and in 1956, Jaipur became the capital of the state of Rajasthan.
The pink city is to the north-east of Jaipur. Additions have been made to this original section in the south and the west. The tourist attractions are in the old part of the town as are the shopping centres. Jaipur is a planned city and the roads and bylanes are laid out in a grid pattern, which makes orientation easy.
The new part of town isn't difficult either. There are three interconnecting roads - Mirza Ismail road (MI road), Station road and Sansar Chandra Marg. Along or off these roads are most of the hotels and the train station.