From Jantar Mantar we moved to the City Palace also known as the Jaipur Palace. That was one of the most awesomest (if I can use a word like that by combining two superlatives) things I had ever seen. There were many halls and rooms all beautifully painted on the walls and ceilings. I was stunned when the tour guide told me that the colours used to paint not only included naturally extracted colours from fruits and vegetables, but also the paste made out of gems like ruby, emerald, sapphire, etc. It was really hard to believe that the paintings I was seeing on the ceilings were 200 years old. In few of the rooms, there were guns used for fighting and hunting. They were beautiful. There were also knives and swords of different shapes and sizes. One of the swords weighed 5.5 kgs and was even studded with precious stones!? (I mean, who would think of fighting with a sword studded with gems?) But a king had fought and won a lot of battles with this stone-studded sword. In a showcase was displayed the body armour and helmet used by the king. It weighed 35 kgs. Some guns that were used on camel backs weighed 25 kgs.
Inside, we went to the Diwan-e-khaas (the auditorium for private audience). It was being arranged for a wedding. Today, Diwan-e-khaas is also rented out for weddings. Inside the Diwan-e-khaas, there were three huge jars made of silver. Each of them weighed 345 kgs and were made of 14000 silver coins and could contain 900 gallons (4091 litres) of water. One of the kings used to drink only Ganges water which was brought and stored in these jars. Once when the king went to England, he took the jars along with him (now this is what we can call ‘to live like a king’). From there, we went inside more rooms where there were exhibits of dresses and stuff used by the kings and queens. One of them was a 9 kg sari used by a queen that was made of gold and silver. The cloth which was bundled into a turban was 12 metres long. But when folded into a square feet, the height of the folded turban wasn’t over 6 inches. Since camera was not allowed inside the City Palace, we missed the opportunity of capturing the pictures of the beautiful artifacts those were used by the royal family.
There was a king by the name Sawai Madho Singh under whose name a cricket stadium is there in Jaipur today. Madho Singh was a very huge king (probably that is why the title ‘Sawai’ suited him too, even though in a different sense). He was 7 feet tall and weighed 215 kgs. His chest was 4 feet broad. His breakfast would ‘weigh’ 10 kgs comprising of milk, jelebis and badam. His dresses were showcased inside the palace. Looking at it we could imagine how big he was by looking at the clothes he wore and his portrait. It did not come to a surprise for us when we were told that he died of diabetes at the age of 39.
There was another room, Diwan-e-aam (hall for public gatherings) filled with the portraits of the kings who lived in the palace at different times. There were rooms over the hall with grilled windows for the queens that enabled them to see the happenings in the hall but the people in the hall could not see the queens because of the grill. Diwan-e-aam also has a chandelier which was one of the largest of its kind. There were many life size portraits of the kings in the big hall of Diwan-e-aam. One of the paintings (if I remember it correctly, it was Raja Man Singh’s) was a special one. The eye, thumb and shoes would point at us from whichever direction we look at the painting. We were told that there was a time when 22 kings lived in the palace. So you can imagine how big the palace must be! The part of the palace that we were seeing was just a portion of the whole palace. The other parts are still used by the royal family.
Jaipur was named after Raja Sawai Jai Singh. He had 27 queens. The royal flag carries five colours which were the colours of the flags of five kingdoms that Raja Man Singh had conquered. After his conquest, he made his national flag as a combination of strips of those five colours. When we visited the palace, there was only one flag on the top of the palace. It means the king is out of town. If one sees two flags on top of the palace that it indicates that the king is in the palace. The present king is just 15 years old (a school going boy). After the end of monarchy, the royal army which comprised only of ‘Rajputs’ (a particular clan/caste in North India) joined the Indian Army under the name ‘Rajputana Rifles’.
From City Palace we went to a Govt. authorized art, handicraft and textile showroom where they showed us how they use natural colouring processes to dye clothes. They extract the colours from fruits and vegetables, and the water used for processing is also said to be brought from a particular river/lake which contains a lot of salts and minerals. After explaining to us the colouring procedure, they took us to their rajaai (blanket – a multi-purpose blanket in fact. They can be used in all seasons and also used as carpets.) section where the rajaai collections started from Rs.750/- onwards. It was hard to believe that a blanket that would make us warm weighed just 100 grams as we held it in our arms. They make it out of Australian sheep wool. There were other beautiful silk blankets costing from Rs.1,250 to Rs.1,850 which was quite cheap as compared to its quality. It came with a 4-5 years ‘guarantee’. So did the saris. Since I wouldn’t be using rajaai in Mumbai, I proceeded to the sari section. They showed me a few saris of Rs.1,250 which were printed with bright (natural) colours and looked beautiful. I bought two of them and stepped out of that section into the kurta section. There was a salesman pulling me to the ‘precious stones’ section but I didn’t go there. Kurtas started from Rs.650 or Rs.750. I bought one for me and one for my son. They had an option of sending the purchases by post to our address if we pay 50% of the price. The balance could be paid at the time of delivery. If I remember it correctly, there was some nominal (or nil) charges of delivering at home. I opted for this option and left the shop for the next stop – Nahargarh.