City Palace Jaipur
Jaipur, the “Pink City” was painted pink on the orders of Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh to welcome the arrival of Edward, the Prince of Wales, during a diplomatic visit in 1853. The inner city still remains pink as do the historic buildings like the City Palace and Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds).
The seat of the Maharaja of Jaipur in the 18th century, the City Palace is still home to the erstwhile royal rulers and only some sections are open to the public. Probably my least favourite, the palace always seemed to me an exercise in self-aggrandisement. Most rajput royal families trace their lineage back to Lord Rama. The Maharaja of Jaipur was no exception, and when I was in Jaipur earlier some 8 years ago, the palace also had an exhibit showing the family tree with the claimed divine ancestry. I didn’t see it this time though.
Some of the more interesting exhibits are the two huge sterling silver vessels. These vessels were made to carry Ganga Jal (holy water from the Ganges) on Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh’s visit to England for Edward VII’s coronation. The King was afraid of committing a religious sin by crossing the seven seas and drinking the English water (Hindus believed they would lose caste if they crossed the seas. So they purified themselves by dunking themselves in holy water/sprinkling holy water over themselves). The vessels with the holy water was a neat way to visit England and pay obeisance to the English crown, and also retain one’s caste!