Why the Walled City of Jaipur deserves World Heritage recognition
Jaipur : Steeped in royal splendour and untouched beauty, the Walled City of Jaipur is once again excited to mark its presence on the world map with Union Minister for Culture Mahesh Sharma informing the Rajya Sabha that the city is the next proposed site for UNESCO World Heritage recognition.
Notably, it was in 2015 when the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) submitted a proposal to UNESCO for World Heritage City status for Jaipur.
Since then, it has been in the tentative list while Ahmedabad proved luckier, bagging the tag of becoming the first Indian World Heritage last July.
The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), one of the three formal advisory bodies to the World Heritage Committee constituted by UNESCO, then requested ASI for an inspection tour of the Walled City here to scan its potential for the heritage tag.
The team visited the city in September 2017 and since then there have been whispers doing the rounds about its heritage status.
But Jaipur has always been greeted affectionately for its magnetic heritage and splendour. The blend of wild, culture and history assimilated in this city, make it a unique combination for discerning travellers.
The city also enjoys concept planning more on the lines of Lahore, Cairo and Tunis; it houses a unique street layout with the primary axis leading to a central place of worship flanked by colourful shops on either side while its secondary and tertiary roads, further segregated on basis of its functional needs, stand out as an exemplary show of interesting town planning.
Emerging from an amalgamation of ancient and contemporary urban planning principles, which range from varied sources such as the traditional Hindu treatise, imperial Mughal principles and western town planning, Jaipur presents a blend of architectural styles. It is home to some of the most marvellous monuments, a surreal melting pot of world heritage and culture.
In fact, Amber Fort is one among the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Rajasthan that fascinate tourists with its amazing architecture and history of brave Rajput rulers.
Here's a quick look at some key components of the Walled City of Jaipur:
Amer Fort: A majestic citadel built by Maan Singh, Amer is situated on a high hillock of Aravali. Once a capital of Rajasthan before Jaipur, it is quite popular among local and overseas tourists for the regal elephant rides, its exemplary architecture and the Sound and Light Show which pays a tribute to Rajputana heritage in Amitabh Bachchan's baritone.
The mesmerising Sheesh Mahal situated within the fort is adorned with millions of glass mirrors on the walls and ceiling, which offer a fascinating aura to the visitors of UNESCO's World Heritage Site in Jaipur.
Nahargarh Fort: Once this mesmerising fort formed a strong defence ring and created a strong protecting force for Amer and Jaigarh Fort. Comprising 7 palaces within its walls,it offers the highest point, which gives an awesome aerial view of the city.
The fort recently had a few additions in the form of a zoo and wax museum.
Jaigarh Fort: Built in 18th century, Jaigarh Fort is the majestic palace which houses world's largest canon originally built to protect Amber Fort.
Amber and Jaigarh are also connected through secret tunnel.
Jantar Mantar: This is yet another heritage site which speaks of phenomenal expression of untold mysteries of universe. The astronomical skills have been made to bespeak in the form of distinguished architecture which brings out discrete observations fascinating visitors from different parts of the world.
Albert Hall: Albert Hall is basically the state museum of Rajasthan which houses marvellous paintings, exquisite sculptures and interesting objects bespeaking a story of their historic significance. Constructed in 1876, Albert Hall is the oldest museum in the state which has gained enormous fame for its Indo-Saracenic architecture.
Surrounded by the lush greenery from all sides, it basks in the colourful lighting during night hours under the night tourism concept launched by Rajasthan Tourism recently.
City Palace: Accommodating several renowned temples, gardens and museums, this palace covers a major portion of the walled city. This magnanimous palace also showcases world's largest silver containers which were once used to carry water during Maharajaa¿s entourages to different countries of the world.
Hawa Mahal: With intact 953 honeycombed kharokhas (windows), Hawa Mahal enjoys the credit of being the tallest building in the world without a foundation. Also there is no front door and hence one needs to enter the palace from behind.
It is also called the Palace of Winds owing to its five-storey exterior with 953 windows which help in keeping the palace cool as the wind blows gently.
Jal Mahal: This is yet another architectural wonder. With a five storey palace, there are two floors which are visible on top of water in the middle of Maan Sagar Lake while the other three remain hidden in water.
The palace seems as if floating in water and gives a surreal feel especially at night with colourful lights all around.
(Archana Sharma can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)