Jaipur is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. This city has a long and checkered history as the former stronghold of Rajput kings and thus, has a very royal aura to it. With the regal bygone era comes many hidden stories that every one of us isn’t aware of. This writeup will flash a light on unheard history of Jaipur
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The era before the establishment of Jaipur
The foundation of the city of Jaipur was formally laid on 18 November 1727. Before this, in 1725, Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh-II of Amber (as Jaipur was not settled) was busy in the construction of an astronomical observatory (probably Jantar-Mantar) at Jaisinghpura, adjacent to Delhi, when he sent orders to his officials in Amer that a palace should be built near his hunting ground located nearby Amer.
Within no time, the construction of a garden and a palace (Jainivas) started on the banks of a pond, from where the construction of a city started, which carries with it happiness, prosperity and the vibrancy of fairs and festivals. Jai Singh had made a complete plan of the city and told his officials that my wish is that Jai Niwas should come inside the city itself. There should be many intersections in it and shops should be built around the roads. These shops should be attached to the back side of the house. Keeping this in mind, King Jai Singh prepared a plan for the city in nine quarters.
The construction of the city of Jaipur formally began on 18 November 1727 with a yagya. The four walls and gates which are still standing here with full force, were prepared first of all. The only criteria to settle the city was to protect the city from attack of enemies and keeping oneself safe in any difficult situation.
6 interesting facts related with the establishment of Jaipur
- Jaipur, which was built in the shape of a chessboard, had a boundary of 9 miles, which was built into nine quadrants based on the architecture of the Navnidhi principle of the nine planets in the universe.
- After the establishment, the world’s last Ashwamedh Yagya was performed in Jaipur. It is said that this Yajna lasted for one and a quarter years and 30 million people were fed in it.
- For the Ashwamedh Yagya, Pradhan Kund was built near the old township of Jaipur, the stepwell near it was filled with ghee.
- The former royal family of Jaipur claims that they are Descendants of Kush, the son of Lord Rama. Seven doors were built in Jaipur.
- The Jantar Mantar, built by Maharaja Jai Singh near his palace ‘City Palace‘, still serves for astronomical calculations.
How did Sawai Jaisingh come up with the idea of settling the city?
However, there is no factual information available about why Jai Singh established the city of Jaipur. There is a story in the history of Jaipur behind the idea of establishing the city. At the age of 11, Jaisingh had invented something new in a fountain of water in Amer Fort. It was from here that his interest in water and town planning was born. After this he lived in the southern states and became the guest of the Maharana of Udaipur. Udaipur was already settled by then. He saw many cities in all these places and in this way, he planned to establish the city of Jaipur.
There are many other stories about the motive behind establishing Jaipur. It is generally believed that Jai Singh founded Jaipur with the aim of developing it as a trading center. After the completion of the palace and the boundary wall, Jaisingh opened his treasury to build concrete shops. He called many merchants, bankers and artists from Udaipur and Delhi to Jaipur and spent thousands of rupees. In about 6 years, Jaipur became a city and started establishing its identity as the first planned city of India and gradually it achieved its ultimate glory.
Jaisingh was not an Architect
Earlier it was revealed that Sawai Jai Singh had established Jaipur. It is on the direction of Sawai Jaisingh, his minister Vidyadhar Bhattacharya designed Jaipur according to Vastu Shastra and was constructed accordingly. But when some documents signed by his minister Vidyadhar Bhattacharya came to the fore, it was believed that he followed the planning of Jaipur on the orders of Jai Singh. On studying in detail, it became clear that neither Sawai Jai Singh nor Vidyadhar Bhattacharya were architects, Jai Singh had conceived the idea of establishing Jaipur, so the credit has to be given to Jai Singh only.
Interestingly, Jaisingh was not an architect, but today architects from all over the world come to Jaipur to learn his work.
Jaisingh became Maharaja at the age of just 12
- Jaisingh is said to have become the Maharaja of Amer at the age of 12.
- Earlier his name was Bijay Singh, Aurangzeb changed his name to Jaisingh and his younger brother was named Bijay Singh.
- Sawai Jaisingh had great interest in mathematics and astronomy. He built Jantar-Mantar observatories in Delhi, Ujjain, Mathura, Banaras and Jaipur.
- Sawai Jai Singh was also a great scholar of Hindu religion and he was called all over the country for mediation on matters related to religion.
- Colonel James Tod, who wrote the history of Rajasthan, wrote that no study of astronomy would ever be complete without Jaisingh and the observatory (Jantar Mantar) built by him. This is the biggest contribution of Jaipur Gharana to India.
From Jaynagar to Jaipur: Jaipur name changed 8 times
Though called the ‘Pink City’ on account of the liberal use of the pink color in its architecture, the name Jaipur itself has an interesting history linked with it. You might have heard stories of how Jaipur was named Pink city. But do you know Jaipur got its “Jaipur” name also after a century. Yes, the city’s name was changed 8 times in the history of Jaipur.
- Jaynagar: At the time of establishment, its name was Jaynagar.
- Sawai Jaipur: The Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah recognized the city as Sawai Jaipur.
- Jeypore: In 1798 it was called Jeypore.
- Jeipoor: The historian of Rajasthan Colonel James Tod called it Jepur in 1829.
- Jypoor: J & C Walker wrote this English spelling in 1833.
- Jypore: This was the spelling of Jaipur in agreement with the British and it continued to be used for many years.
- Jaypur: In 1897 the spelling of the name was changed.
- Jaipur: The last change was made in 1898, which is the spelling used today
Jaipur column is 145 feet high
As mentioned in the history of Jaipur, the city Column was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, while the entire cost was borne by then Maharaja of Jaipur, Madho Singh. This column is 555 feet away from the main gate of Rashtrapati Bhavan.
At the top there is a lotus flower made of brass and a star is made above it. Both weigh 5 tons.
On 15 December 1911, the foundation of this column was laid by King George V of Britain. The column is made of Dholpur stones
Marathas who came to fight went out to visit Jaipur
Jaipur city is so beautiful that even the Maratha soldiers who came to attack it left the war and went out to see the beauty of the city. It is said that on January 10, 1751, about 4 thousand Maratha soldiers were camping to attack Jaipur. He was so curious to hear about the history of Jaipur that he left the war and went to visit the city. Here he saw beautiful temples and magnificent buildings. This was the first time that a fighting army did not attack, as they were besieged by the city. A British military officer also gave Jaipur the title of the cleanest and most beautiful city of India at that time.
Taj Mahal was built on the land of Jaipur
A few months ago, a statement by former Jaipur royal family member and Rajsamand MP Diya Kumari created a stir that the Taj Mahal was built on the land of the princely state of Jaipur (Amer at that time). Not only the Taj Mahal but the land on which the highest institutions of independent India are built, that land also belonged to the princely state of Jaipur. At that time Raisina Hills of Delhi was called Jaisinghpura only. Delhi’s famous Connaught Place, Jantar Mantar is also built on the land of Jaipur. The princely state of Jaipur had donated this land to the British to make Delhi the capital.
‘Not only did the princely state of Jaipur give land for the Taj Mahal, but the architects and artists who built it also went from this princely state. The Taj Mahal and the Red Fort of Delhi were built by the Mukim and Kumawat families of Jaipur. The entire land of Raisina Hills including Rashtrapati Bhawan, Parliament House was donated by the princely state of Jaipur.
The famous Salt curry from cactus milk
In the years after the establishment of Jaipur, during the time of Maharaja Madho Singh II (1880-1922), the kitchen of the royal family was so big that hundreds of people used to work there. The entire kitchen was run at the personal expense of Madho Singh. Special dishes were prepared here according to the choice of the Maharaja, hence it was also called ‘Khasa’. One of these dishes was salt curry. To make salt curry, salt nuggets were soaked for three days in the milk of the cactus (Gada Thor).
This milk was poured only in a quantity that salt nugget absorbs in a day. In this way, the milk had to be changed for three days. On the fourth day the nuggets were boiled in two liters of water. Then the salt nuggets were washed with cold water and then cooked with spices to prepare it as a vegetable. Yes, it was necessary to add salt again while making the vegetable.
Tated Khana – very own Jalday Vibhag of royals
There used to be a small department in this kitchen, which was called Tated Khana i.e. Jalday Vibhag. The work of this department was only to be ready with hot and cold water all the time. This department used to arrange water only for bathing and washing, because Maharaja Madho Singh used to drink only Ganges water and the queens used to get water from the well of their choice.
With so much discovered, there is still a lot that needs to be treasured. Such is the glorious history of Jaipur that the citystill feels less explored no matter how much time we visit. So when are you visiting next?