Train schedules hit by Jat stir

JAIPUR: Schedules of at least 10 trains en route to various stations in the state were affected due to the blockade by agitating members of the Jat community on the Rajasthan-Haryana border on Monday.

The agitators were demanding reservation in government jobs in Haryana under the Other Backward Class quota.

Nearly 300-500 agitators blocked the rail tracks outside Alwar between Ajarka and Bawal stations in the afternoon.

The sudden blockade left hundreds of passengers stranded in the city. Railway authorities informed of prolonged delay in arrival of many trains.

“I was just informed that I have to board my train at Phulera. I have no clue how I will reach Phulera in time,” said Purshottam Sharma, a Baroda-bound passenger.

Half of the affected trains were diverted via Ringas and Narnaul to Jaipur.

Considering the gravity of situation, the North Western Railway (NWR) has cancelled 10 trains scheduled for Tuesday, mostly from Jaipur to various destinations in Punjab, Haryana and Delhi till the next orders are issued, NWR spokesperson Lalit Bohra said.

The cancelled trains include Haridwar-Ajmer, Jaipur-Hissar, Jaipur-Chandigarh, Sriganganagar-NewDelhi and Bareilly-New Bhuj among others.

“Route of 19 trains were diverted via Ringas and Narnaul to Delhi,” added Bohra. The NWR is monitoring the situation. It has decided that if the situation continues for long, special counters will be opened for passengers to collect their refunds.

An advisory has been issued saying passengers should call the railway inquiry number before leaving for their stations.

Source: The Times of India

The Elephant Festival – Jaipur

The Elephant Festival is one of the most popular festivals of Jaipur, Rajasthan. It is celebrated every year in March on the occasion of Holi, the festival of colors. This is an annual event held at Jaipur Chagan Stadium where people gather in large crowds to celebrate the occasion with much pump and gaiety. During the festival, Jaipur comes alive with elephants, dancers and musicians which draw visitors from all over the world.

Akin to what happens in other prominent festival of Rajasthan, a majestic procession of beautifully adorned elephants is taken. All the elephants taking part in the rally are firstly painted with bright colors and then stylishly bejeweled with costly gems and embroidered velvet. Folk dancers and other artist also partake in the rally where they give vivacious performance on traditional music of Holi.

The elephants are decorated with beautiful garlands and a panel of jury is present to judge the finest looking elephant. The award of “Best decorated Elephant” is granted on the basis of various aspects like cleanliness and decorative items used on the elephant.

Races of Elephant and polo matches are the major highlights of Jaipur Elephant Festival. In the festival, a never seen battle is organized which takes place between elephants and men.

The famous Chaugan ground is the actual destination where the festival is held. The spaciousness is the factor which makes it ideal for organizing an Elephant festival. Together with Elephants, there can be found lancers on horses, chariots, camels, cannons, palanquins, etc which form the part of the Elephant Festival in Jaipur.

There are prizes for the most beautifully decorated elephant. Elephant polo, Elephant race, the tug-of-war between Elephant and 19 men and women are the featured events of the festival.

Time: Saturday, March 19 · 7:30am – 10:30am
Location: Jaipur, Rajasthan, India

The Jataka stories of Buddhism refer to the tradition of Hastimangala (the Elephant Festival). A royal mount from time immemorial, the elephant has also been a symbol of strength and wealth. For the Rajput kings, the elephants were of especial significance not only during war but also during the royal festivities-a must at royal pageant. Nishan-ka-hathi, the flag carrier, led the procession. The king always mounted a caparisoned elephant. Special hunting programs and elephant fights were organized to entertain the royal guests. Jaipur was a favorite with the important personalities of the British Raj and the Maharajas always arranged for their guests of honor elephant rides up to the Amber palace. Even today, the mahouts take tourists up to the Amber Palace on elephant back.

Rajasthan Tourism revived the tradition by including the Elephant Festival in the cultural calendar. The present-day pageant, originated only a decade ago, was devised especially with the tourist in mind. The inclusion of the game of polo is more recent, being inspired by a cartoon in Punch magazine that showed the Indian polo team atop an elephant after it won all the international tournaments. Every year on the day after Holi, the old stadium at Jaipur, the Chaugan (originally planned for elephants), forms the venue for a spectacular jamboree.

Places to see
Jaipur is famous for Hawa Mahal, Amber Fort, City Palace, Jantar Mantar and many more.

Colorful Rajasthan: Jaipur, the ‘Pink City’

Monday January 31st, 2011 in India, Myth, Places to Visit | Be the first to Comment »

Resplendent in the hues of its noble and magnificent past, the historic city of Jaipur stands out as one of the most spectacular and culturally vibrant destinations in the world.

A city of colors, the city charms its admirers and visitors with it confluence of terrains, colors, and cultures. The ancient city, immaculately planned by its learned king and his trusted architect, was amongst the first planned cities in the Indian subcontinent.

Doused in an appeasing pink, Jaipur has, over the years, come to don the title of India’s “Pink City.” Rich in its historical heritage, every corner of Jaipur holds an interesting antidote and touch of old-world charm. The color of the city, too, has interesting stories and theories behind it.

While the most popular conjecture is that Jaipur donned pink to welcome the Prince of Wales, other fables go a step further and say that Raja Jawai Singh, the ruler of Jaipur then, used pink to cover up a diplomatic mix-up during the ambassador’s visit, prior to the Prince’s visit.

It is said that a simpleton in the court actually called the Prince’s men “pink-faced monkeys,” so the Raja ceremoniously had the entire city painted in pink to convince the Prince and his people of his honest and hospitable intentions.

Other stories, though less dramatic, are equally interesting. Of the numerous stories, the more plausible one seems to be that the contractor chose pink in light of the lack of availability of large quantities of any other color. While the scientific reasoning behind the choice of pink has been pinned down to its reflectivity and cooling effect, it is also believed that the king experimented with colors like green and yellow before finally settling on pink.

All in all, this city built in sandstone is a gem both on merit of its clean cut designs as well as the grandeur its traditional structures present.

Whatever the real reason might have been, the city savors and celebrates its heritage by ensuring that the people uphold its culture and history in every which way. New buildings in and around the old city layout have maintained the pink color of the original city in order to carry on the legacy of the “Pink City.”

The original city is an architectural marvel. Though simple in its plan, its tapering columns, elegant porticos, portal seats, and large, inviting gateways have been treasured and safeguarded by a people who have great pride in their cultural heritage.

A city of deserts, royalty, craft, and culture, Jaipur and its people thrive in their vibrant and awe-inspiring surroundings. The people adorn traditional attires that reflect their free spirits and grandiose past. Swirling skirts, colorful turbans, intricate leatherwork, mirrors, and more, Jaipur is perhaps one of the only cities in the Indian subcontinent that reflects the fusion of modernity and heritage this beautifully. It is no wonder then that today, celebrities, tourists, and guests from all over the world mark the “Pink City” high on their priority list of places to travel.

Its effervescent traditions, customs, and appeal have also earned the city the affectionate tag of the “Paris of India.” Royalty and high culture still exist in the city in its grandiose palaces and buildings, but there is a simplicity that coexists amongst the people. The ambling camels along the turbaned and colorfully attired men present Jaipur’s visitors a glimpse into the regal past of the city.

The color that adorns the city takes form in the hearts of the people living in it. It signifies the romanticism of a bygone era treasured and kept alive by the people of Jaipur. Set against the magnificent backdrop of majestic forts and palaces, the city is reminiscent of the lingering romance for life, art, music, and literature that was upheld by the rulers of this princely state.

To the tourists and visitors who marvel at the inner and outer beauty of the city and its people, pink represents the warmth and hospitality that has overwhelmed the millions that walked its streets. The timeless appeal of the city lies in its pink garb, fairytale palaces, rugged fortresses, kaleidoscopic attires, and the genuine warmth that the people of Jaipur exhibit.

A city that is marked by festivals, rituals, music, traditions, and an old world charm, Jaipur and its people revel in their inheritance. Perhaps this is why the city of gems has found a place in the Indian subcontinent as a shining example of culture, royalty, progress, and tradition, all rolled into one.

Today, Jaipur stands precariously balanced between fast paced technology and the rustic allure of its glorious past. The “Pink City” of India beckons admirers and travelers that are looking for a taste of the past.

The color of the city palaces will lure you into a restive calm that allows you to take in the sights and sounds of the city. Doused inpink, the city paints different strokes on each admirer’s soul with its opulence and beauty.

To some, the pink of the city evokes pure admiration of its ethereal quality, while to others it brings forth comparisons of a blushing bride whose beauty surpasses all. A visit to the city opens up your heart and soul to a bygone era. Who knows what new facet of pink this wondrous city may reveal to you!


Palatial Jaipur, India

Wednesday June 9th, 2010 in Uncategorized | Be the first to Comment »

Royal palaces galore accent this pink city

It’s late afternoon and Ajmeri Gate is abuzz with activity. Beneath the monolithic arches, throngs of pedestrians Palaceflow back and forth between the old city and the sprawling web of modern Jaipur. The hum of the crowd hangs over this corner of the city, punctuated here and there by the tap-tap-tap of two-stroke engines as herds of auto-rickshaws sputter through, swerving their way around cyclists and the occasional bony-haunched cow.

By the side of the road, vendors hawk produce from roughly-hewn wooden carts or fry morsels of dough in cast-iron cauldrons. Families, balanced precariously on scooters, zip past, the women’s saris blurs of color against the dusty coral-pink walls.

Jaipur is something of an anomaly among Indian cities. In a country where some cities can trace their roots back for well over a millennium, Jaipur is less than 300 years old, yet boasts a rich history as a seat of royal power. It was one of the few planned cities of its time, yet its gridded streets and zoning still draws praise from urban planners today. It’s a city where, put simply, the past is tangled up in the present, the present is tangled up in the past, and the future is wrapped up somewhere in the middle.

Jaipur’s story begins in Amber, a hilltop fort just northeast of the old city. The fort as we know it now took shape around the turn of the 17th century, when the ruling Kachwaha family, predecessors of the current Maharajas of Jaipur, began construction on a royal residence in their longtime capital of Amber.

The resulting structure was, by all accounts, magnificent, a rich hybrid of Muslim and Hindu architecture that would serve as the clan’s seat of power for over a century. While it’s currently undergoing restoration, Amber continues to attract visitors, who come to see the palace’s ornate artwork or catch the panoramic view of the jarsurrounding lowlands from Amber’s cliffside terraces.

In 1727, Jai Singh II began construction on Jaipur, planning it as a new capital to replace his family’s longtime residence at Amber. Unlike most cities of the time, Jaipur was constructed as a planned community, with its streets laid out in a carefully designed grid according to Vedic architectural principles. The finishing touch, however, didn’t come until 1853, when, according to legend, Maharaja Man Singh II gave the city its now-iconic pink paint job to celebrate a visit from the Prince of Wales.

While modern Jaipur is a working city, a significant chunk of the economy consists of catering to visitors drawn in by the city’s cultural and architectural riches. If you’re a history buff set on exploring every nook and cranny of Jaipur’s royal history, the best advice I can offer you is this: give up. Jaipur may be one of the few cities on earth that could legitimately claim a surplus of palaces. Picking just a few to tackle at a time will make your trip infinitely more pleasant.

The City Palace complex is a good place to start. The word “palace” doesn’t really do justice to this conglomeration of royal apartments and labyrinthine galleries, the private inner section of which still houses the royal family. In addition to several city blocks of stunning stonework and engraving, the palace’s museum houses a staggering collection of artwork as well as some of the more impressive specimens from the royal armory.

At the edge of the complex is the well-known “Palace of the Winds”, or Hawa Mahal, a facade constructed ewlephantto allow the cloistered ladies of the royal family to catch an occasional glimpse of the street life below while still remaining unseen. Like them, visitors have the sobering opportunity to spend a few minutes watching life unfold through the stone latticework that was many women’s only connection to the outside world.

A stop at nearby Jantar Mantar, a royal observatory that dates back to the construction of Jaipur, is a surreal bookend to a day of touring the City Palace. Built in the days before telescopes, the oversized geometric structures of Jantar Mantar are as impressive in form as they are in function, 20 meter-high sundials and bowl-shaped marble star charts that once served as the tools of royal astrologers.

Today, the observatory and its collection of astronomical arcana sit in the shadow of several neighboring high rises, a juxtaposition that would be odd in most cities but seems oddly appropriate for Jaipur; while Jantar Mantar no longer reads the stars, it may have a better view of its city’s future than ever before.