Jai Singh II – the Kachhwaha King – shifted his capital from Amer Fort to Jaipur in the early 18th century. He had concluded that after the advent of modern warfare it would become increasingly difficult to defend a hilltop fort. So, he built the fortified city of Jaipur in the nearby plains. Hence, Amer and its guarding sentinel – Jaigarh Fort – were forgotten. The succeeding monarchs and other royals built many elegant palaces in the precincts of Jaipur City. They also built another hilltop fort for their escapades – Nahargarh Fort. The forts situated in Jaipur are amongst the popular forts in Rajasthan. Here we give you the information on the finest forts and palaces in Jaipur.
Forts in Jaipur
Amer Fort (or Amber Fort)
Amer (or Amber), 12 km from Jaipur, is a magnificent fort straddling a hillock. This fort and the adjoining historical town of Amer are enclosed in the ramparts that are spread across the surrounding hills. Raja Man Singh established this fortress in 1592. The subsequent rulers continued building it until the capital was shifted to Jaipur. It lay abandoned for more than two hundred years before the heritage explorers discovered it. Despite being unprotected for so long, many of its chambers, pavilions, and gateways have retained much of their original appearance. The Rajput and Mughal influences are easily noticeable in the designs. The countryside location and the surrounding pristine hills make the fortress more appealing. Amber is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and receives travellers from across the globe. Read More
Jaigarh fort is situated right above Amer and is enclosed within the same outer walls as Amer. A tunnel connects Amer with this fort. It was to be used to shift the royals in case of an attack but the need never arose. Jaigarh has a cannon foundry and its grounds were used for army training. Walking along the ramparts of Jaigarh is an exhilarating activity as you get the spellbinding views of the undulating hills. On one corner of the fort is a huge cannon-on-wheels called ‘Jaivana’. It is said to be the largest of its kind in the world. On the other end are the palace apartments connected by the dark passageways. A path from the apartments lead to the beautiful Mughal Garden. Read More
Travel Tip: It is advisable to hire a guide if you want to explore the entire fort.
This small hilltop fort provides commanding views of the Jaipur City. Commissioned in 1734, Nahargarh served two purposes. It was a retreat for the royals and could also be used as a safe haven in the times of war. Apart from the motorable road, there is also a trekking route which connects it to the city. Much of the original fort is in ruins, only 19th-century additions are in good condition. A palace called ‘Madhavendra Bhawan’ has remained intact. It has beautifully decorated palace apartments which were used by the queens. Don’t miss to climb to the rooftop terrace of the palace to take in the scenic views of Jaipur City. Read More
Travel Tip: There is an open-air fine-dining restaurant alongside the palace. Along with this there is an open-air cafe and a food court in the fort. Sunsets are pretty much enjoyable from here but that’s not the time when solo women should venture alone, given the seclusion of the place.
Palaces in Jaipur
The City Palace of Jaipur exhibits much different architecure than the other palaces in Rajasthan. While the others are compact, this palace complex is based on an open plan assimilating the Mughal Style of Architecture. The palaces, pavilions, and quarters are spread across in a large campus. In tune with the other buildings of the walled city, most of the structures here were painted pink. But the beautiful Chandra Mahal, where the present royals reside, has a cream-coloured facade. During your visit of the City Palace, don’t miss to check out the Mubarak Mahal, armoury, the hall of public audience, the hall of private audience, and the peacock courtyard (known as ‘Mor Chowk’). Read More
Hawa Mahal is popular for its unique and eccentric facade. This pink-coloured facade has scores of balconies and numerous niches jutting out of the surface. Its shape resembles that of Lord Krishna’s crown. While most of the travellers admire it only from the outside, it is worth exploring it from inside. This five-storeyed structure was constructed for the women of the harem. From here they could watch the processions on the streets without being seen. Climbing to the rooftop terrace can award you with the views of the city and the adjoning hills. Read More
This elegant palace is within the City Palace Complex. While most of the buildings and walls of the City Palace are pink, this palace stands out with its cream colour. Its beautiful facade faces the popular ‘Mor Chowk’ (the peacock courtyard). This palace was the residence of the royal family and continues to be so.
Travel Tip: Visitors of City Palace don’t have the access to this palace, only facade can be viewed from the peacock courtyard. To get the entry to this building, there is a hefty fee of INR 2500 per person.
This is the lake palace that you see on your right while driving from Jaipur to Amer. Sawai Pratap Singh – a ruler of Jaipur – got this palace built around the end of the 18th century. Situated amidst the waters of Man Sagar Lake and surrounded by the shrub-covered hillocks, this palace enjoys an enviable setting. The building is five-storeyed and when the lake is running full, four floors remain submerged. This was a pleasure palace and a hunting lodge for the royals. It wears a striking appearance past the sunset when the flood lights come alive.
A small fortified palace overlooks the Birla Temple from the adjacent hillock, that is Moti Dungri. It has the appearance of a Scottish Castle. Gayatri Devi – the famous Jaipur Royal – had used Moti Dungri as her residence and her son followed her. Today this is private property and is inaccessible to the travellers. But one can visit the Ganesha Temple situated in it. This 18th century temple is appreciated for its stone-work.
Travel Tip: While the palace isn’t open to the travellers, the temple of Ganesha can be visited from 5:30 am to 1:30 pm and 4:30 pm to 9:00 pm.
Palaces Turned Into Hotels
Rambagh Palace is set amidst 47 acres of gardens. This early-19th-century palace was built for the queen’s handmaiden. Since then it has donned many caps. After a few decades it was transformed into a hunting lodge and saw a major expansion in the early 20th century. In 1931, it became the principal residence for the then king of Jaipur. After independence, this palace became a ‘Government House’ for a short while before turning into a luxury hotel.
Rajmahal Palace (Now Sujan Rajmahal Palace Hotel)
Rajmahal palace was built by the founder of Jaipur Sawai Jai Singh II. He had built it as a garden retreat for his queen. In the early 19th century this palace was the official residence of the British Resident Political Officer of Rajputana. And after independence Sawai Man Singh II called Rajmahal Palace his home. Today it is a luxury hotel.
Note: In August 2016, JDA (Jaipur Development Authority) sealed this hotel. As per JDA, the property belongs to the government while the royals claim it to be theirs. You can read about the controversy here.
Samode, 40 km north of Jaipur, is a large town. It was once a feudatory province under the state of Amber. Originally a fort was built here in the 16th century. Later on in the early 19th century, the fort was transformed into a magnificent palace. Today that palace – called Samode Palace – serves as a heritage hotel.
The construction of this fortified palace was begun by Karan Singh in 1598. His successor Sukh Singh continued the construction and did considerable additions. A time came when cannons were made in this fort. Today this palace is a hotel and is also favourite amongst Indian film producers as a shooting venue. Several films have been shot in it.