Pretty in pink: The story behind why Jaipur is so famously known as ‘The Pink City’

Pretty in pink: The story behind why Jaipur is so famously known as ‘The Pink City’

Pretty in pink: The story behind why Jaipur is so famously known as ‘The Pink City’

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With its honeycomb-inspired palaces and towering forts, Jaipur is one of India’s architectural marvels. But it’s not just its buildings’ size and form that makes it a stand-out destination for fans of the brick-and-mortar medium – it’s the colour scheme, too. There’s a reason Jaipur is known as the Pink City, of course. But how did its signature blush-coloured looks come about? Read on to discover the fascinating story behind the Pink City, and find out where you can find its most beautiful buildings.

WHY IS JAIPUR KNOWN AS THE PINK CITY?

On almost every street in Jaipur, you’ll find buildings painted a gorgeous shade of dusty pink. The reason? In 1876, Queen Victoria’s son, Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (who would later become King Edward VII) visited India. At the time, pink was the symbolic colour of hospitality. As the people of Jaipur are known for their incredible hospitality, Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh I had the whole city painted pink to welcome the royals. It’s said that Prince Albert nicknamed Jaipur the ‘Pink City’ and the name stuck.

The Maharaja also oversaw the construction of a grand concert hall, naming it Albert Hall, in honour of Prince Albert. Today, the building is the Albert Hall Museum and is the oldest museum in the state of Rajasthan. The building itself is a stunning display of Indo-Saracenic architecture. Venture inside and you’ll find a collection of treasures including paintings, crystal sculptures and jewellery.

In 1877 The Maharaja Ram Singh took the pink obsession one step further. After the Queen of Jaipur declared herself a fan of the pink, he passed a law stating that any future buildings in the city must be painted the same colour. The law has remained, with almost all buildings, from bazaars to temples, adopting the same lovely shade of terracotta pink. And, while times have changed, the Pink City continues to open its arms to the world with the same generous hospitality it always has.

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A PINK PARADISE THAT WAS AHEAD OF ITS TIME

As a newcomer to the city, the first thing you’ll see is all the pink. But look more closely, and you’ll start to see a myriad of beautiful shades, from pastel pinks to reddish browns. You’ll also notice the striking symmetry of the city. Many of the Jaipur’s buildings were designed in the Rajasthani architectural style, which blends Hindu Rajput building techniques with the symmetrical Mughal style.

Jaipur was also a city that was ahead of its time, as it was India’s first planned city. When Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II founded the city in 1727 as Rajasthan’s capital, he designed the streets on a grid, using early urban planning principles. Today you’ll find that the streets of Jaipur are a pleasure to navigate, with wide main streets running north-south and east-west.

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THE MOST FAMOUS PINK BUILDINGS IN JAIPUR

Ready to start you exploration of this stunning pink city? Here are some of the most beautiful pink buildings to put on your list.

HAWA MAHAL

The Hawa Mawal may be Jaipur’s most famous pink building – and for good reason. Known as the Palace of Winds, this five-storey, crown-shaped building is simply mesmerising. It was built from pink sandstone in 1799, then pink-washed with calcium oxide paint in 1876 to boost the impact. The Hawa Mahal has over 950 intricate latticework windows resembling honeycomb. It was built that way so royal women could watch everyday life in central boulevard below without being seen.

You’ll visit Hawa Mahal with Insight and explore the City Palace Museum. You can also choose to visit the royal observatory or see Jantar Mantar, home to the world’s largest stone dun dial. You might also like to join your Local Expert for a walk through the city’s old laneways and watch artisans working with ancient techniques.

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CITY PALACE

Set in the heart of the old town, the City Palace is a candy-coloured sensation that’s still home to royals today. As you wander through the sprawling courtyards and gardens inside the palace walls, you’ll observe a unique mélange of Rajput, European and Mughal architectural styles. Pause to take in ancient cannons, ornate sculptures and fascinating museums and galleries.

AMER FORT

Jaipur is a city of spectacular forts – and none more so than Amer Fort (Amber Fort). Built on a hilltop from pale pink and yellow sandstone, complemented by white marble, this magnificent palace complex is a showstopper. Climb to the top to take in panoramic views of a glittering lake on one side, rolling hills on the other and central Jaipur in the near distance.

Don’t miss the dazzling Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors). The walls and ceiling are covered in mirror, mosaics, and ornate flower carvings. The king at the time had it built so the Mahrani (queen) could stargaze whenever she desired, since the Mahrani wasn’t allowed to sleep outdoors. The light from a single candle gives the illusion of thousands of stars and it’s oh so romantic.

EXPERIENCE IT: Classical India with Nepal

JAIGARH FORT

Next up, head to the nearby Jaigarh Fort. It’s so close to Amer Fort, in fact, that there’s a hidden underground tunnel connecting the two. Once designed as an escape route for royals, unfortunately there’s no access the tunnel today. But you can explore this striking red sandstone palace complex above ground. Jaigarh Fort was once a defensive stronghold, used for storing weapons and ammunition. It’s famed for housing the world’s largest cannon on the wheels, known as the ‘Jaivana Cannon’. For a more peaceful side to the fort, head to the lush Persian-style garden.

NAHARGARH FORT

Lastly, you’ll visit Nahargarh Fort. Built with yellow sandstone rather than the customary pink, it offers the very best views over Jaipur. Head here at sunset to see the red glow of the setting sun cause the city’s pink buildings to glow like embers.

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