photo essay

Magnificent Jaipur

The ancient capital of Jaipur has stood at the forefront of Rajput valour and pride. Join us as we take you to Jaipur and show you how it was a hundred years ago. A land of magnificent architecture, forts and brave warriors.

Hawa Mahal or Palace of the Winds by Bourne and Shepherd circa 1885 CE
Hawa Mahal or Palace of the Winds by Bourne and Shepherd circa 1885 CE|Rajeev Rawat of Manglam Arts

Hawa Mahal or the Palace of the Winds was built in 1799 CE by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh of Jaipur. Made of red pink sandstone, this beautiful building was made for the cloistered royal women to sit and watch processions through the hundreds of delicate latticed windows. The unique architecture of the building and a height of nearly fifty feet makes the ventilation possible and deserving of its lyrical name.

Main Street, Jaipur by Govindram Oodeyram circa 1895 CE
Main Street, Jaipur by Govindram Oodeyram circa 1895 CE| Rajeev Rawat of Manglam Arts 

Jai (victory) and Pur (city) combine to form Jaipur, the City of Victory. The Raja of Amer, Jai Singh II founded it in 1726 CE and built a beautiful planned urban city with wide roads, ramparts and protective gates. Seen here is the principal street and Tripoliya bazaar thronging with people and shops doing business then, as it does today.



Chandra Mahal, City Palace Complex, Jaipur by Bourne and Shepherd circa 1885 CE
Chandra Mahal, City Palace Complex, Jaipur by Bourne and Shepherd circa 1885 CE| Rajeev Rawat of Manglam Arts

Named after the pristine moon, the royal Chandra Mahal (Moon Palace) comprises of seven floors and has been home to the kings of Jaipur. Located on the west end of the historic City Palace complex, its commanding silhouette is well known in the city. This unusual private view is taken from its well-planned and landscaped gardens.



View from Chandra Mahal by Bourne and Shepherd circa 1875 CE
View from Chandra Mahal by Bourne and Shepherd circa 1875 CE| Rajeev Rawat of Manglam Arts

This view of the immaculate gardens and the water fountains was most certainly taken from one of the highest points of the City Palace. It shows the detailed planning and pride taken by the royals in building their pleasure gardens with water bodies, much needed in the fierce summers. It also shows a beautiful view of the city with the Aravalli Hills in the distance.



Bari Chopar, Jaipur by Deen Dayal circa 1885 CE
Bari Chopar, Jaipur by Deen Dayal circa 1885 CE| Rajeev Rawat of Manglam Arts

Processional congregations were occasions to celebrate and decorate the city. See in this photograph how people have gathered on every available terrace and ledge, on the temple pyramid and buildings in the background before a royal procession passes The Bari Chopar (Big/Main crossroads). The patient expectation in the multitudes is palpable even as covered carts and the harnessed animals try to adjust in the chaos.



Ganesh Pol, City Palace Jaipur by Photoglob Zurich circa 1890 CE
Ganesh Pol, City Palace Jaipur by Photoglob Zurich circa 1890 CE| Rajeev Rawat of Manglam Arts

This is actually a colourised Photochrom image, produced with multiple lithographic plates, a precursor to true colour photography! It was worth the effort as it used colour to convey the exquisite detailing and decoration of one of the main entrance gates to the City Palace Complex. One can sense the movement of the people as they walk toward the camera.

Amber Fort and surroundings by Govindram Oodeyram circa 1880 CE
Amber Fort and surroundings by Govindram Oodeyram circa 1880 CE| Rajeev Rawat of Manglam Arts

This stunning image shows the rugged architectural landscape from more than a century ago. High up on the horizon we see ‘Jaigarh’ or Victory Fort and lower, the historic Amber (Amer) Fort complex built in sandstone. In the foreground are the placid waters of the Maota Lake, water supply and the lifeline to live in these desert mountains.



Entrance to Amber (Amer) Fort by Colin Murray for Bourne and Shepherd circa 1885
Entrance to Amber (Amer) Fort by Colin Murray for Bourne and Shepherd circa 1885| Rajeev Rawat of Manglam Arts

This riveting image of Ganesh Pol or Gate is one of the seven gates in the historic Amer Fort. It bears the profile of the Lord Ganesha in the central arch and led the way to the private areas of the Palace. The Islamic domes and beautiful jharokhas and painting styles comprise a blend of the Mughal and Rajput architectural styles.



View of Jaipur from the Fort of Amber circa 1885
View of Jaipur from the Fort of Amber circa 1885| Rajeev Rawat of Manglam Arts

The Kachwaha kings of Amer built the new city of Jaipur but before they did, they ruled from the marble and sandstone citadel of Amber (Amer) that dates back nearly 400 years. Here we see the rise and fall of the low Aravalli ranges, the subsequent Jaigarh fortifications that snake down the hillside and the buildings that nestle in between.


AUTHOR

Deepthi Sasidharan works and writes on 19th century photography. A Fulbright and Fundacao Oriente scholar, she is a trained museologist and currently works with Eka Archiving Services, planning museum and cultural projects from inception to execution.

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