Jaipur is a city that is famous around the world for its exotic essence and ancient ambience. In fact, it is also touted to be one of the most well planned cities from that era. The fact that a majority of its heritage, artifacts, architecture and landmarks survive till today is a mark of how ingeniously it was crafted. Let us explore some of the lesser known facts about the foundation of this majestic Pink City.
The Foundation: Touted to be the ‘first planned city of India’, Jaipur was founded by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh ll on 18 November 1727. The construction began in the same year and continued for about four years until the major roads, palaces and government offices approached completion.
The Architect: Sawai Jai Singh ll held great interest in the art and science of construction and researched through many books on architecture and architects before finally approaching Vidyadhar Bhattacharya as the chief architect for the establishment of the city. A Bengali architect, Bhattacharya was very learned in the science of architecture, and took his cue from Vedic principles such as Shilpa Shastra and Vastu Shastra. He hailed from Naihati of present-day West Bengal, and was already working in the state of Amer as a Junior Auditor, which is where Sawai Jai Singh discovered his skill as an architect and found him to be capable of the immense responsibility of planning and building an entire city from scratch.
As on today, apart from the grand city of Jaipur itself, the Vidyadhar Garden near Galtaji stands in memory of Purohit Vidyadhar Bhattacharya.
The Design: The city of Jaipur was planned according to the ancient Indian science of Vastu Shastra and Shilpa Shastra; divided in nine blocks where two constituted the state buildings and palaces while the other seven were designed for public use. Based on Vastu, there are three gates in the city facing east, west and north. Due to the relation of the directions with celestial bodies in Vastu, the eastern gate is known by the name of Suraj Pol (Sun Gate), the western is called Chand Pol (Moon Gate), while the northern gate faces the earlier kingdom of Amer.
After facing several battles with the Maratha Empire, Sawai Jai Singh wanted the city to be designed with a foresight on exceptional security. For this purpose huge fortification walls were built around the city along with seven stronghold gates.
At the time, the city of Jaipur was one of the most advanced in terms of architecture, earning a lot of praise for its design in the pre-modern era. It was a marvel that was created with great attention to detail, with awe inspiring regularity in its street designs and a broad, secure and well planned layout.
The Colour: Jaipur was coloured in terracotta pink in honour of the welcome of Prince of Wales in 1876, under the reign of Sawai Ram Singh. This colour was chosen after much deliberation in order to reduce the effect of the glaring rays of the sun by using a soft tinge of rosy pink. Since then, Jaipur came to be known by the epithet of “Pink City”, and it continues to sport this colour on nearly all sites in the old city area.
Great contributions have gone in the making of Jaipur as a city of grandeur. Whether it is Sawai Jai Singh’s vision for the city, or his love for maths and science due to which sites like the Jantar Mantar were constructed, every small and big influence has managed to retain itself in the immortal presence of this palatial and majestic city that can still transport you a couple of centuries back in time.