If there is a pink city that perfectly represents the rise and fall of the Maharajas of India that is Jaipur.
Flirty like no other but at the same time, gigantic and chaotic, the ‘pink city‘ is the hen of the golden eggs of Rajasthan, the main tourist reference and a city, sometimes too embellished by tourist brochures.
Even so, Jaipur oozes lavishness and poverty at a dizzying pace. Perhaps the cause is that its founder came to power with 11 years and, therefore, Jaipur maintains a perfect balance between magic and science, reality and the imagined.
An astronomical observatory, one of the largest and most luxurious mansions in the country, an architecturally perfect and aesthetically beautiful city, and a gum-colored film convey the feeling that those whims of a young emperor eventually became the reference of a region and a country. But we will see that later.
Seen with the eyes of the time, more than a city, Jaipur was a true scene where to capture the fairy tales that told the infant that palace, Jai Singh II.
Before being a reality, it was a dream in the mind of a restless child who, when he came to power, at the end of the 18th century, from his home in Amber where he glimpsed his rosy whim, ten kilometers in elephant.
In part, because of his childish creative acuity and partly, driven by the lack of water and the need for expansion of a population that forced him to seek better lands where to develop his fantasies and give stability to its inhabitants.
Today, the ‘city of Jai’ has more than two million inhabitants and an enviable heritage.
Besides warrior, Jai Singh II was restless. He loved science and applied it to everyday life. That is why I built an astronomical observatory, named Jantar Mantar, where the time and position of the stars were measured, and fundamental information for the harvests or planning marriages.
There I’ve spent the dead hours wandering between the aberintos based on horoscopes, large moles of granite with different notches and mole-shaped telescopes. A complex that still stands and, although surprising, is not too entertaining.
A few steps, his mansion rose. As you can imagine the result was an impressive complex of buildings, courtyards, gardens and rooms.
Inside, today, we can find a combination of lavish cloisters with their facades painted in pastel colors along with museums that display clothes and utensils of the Maharajas or small workshops where they offer tourists what they claim to be works of art.
The visit is highly recommended, being clear that, once again, in India, a powerful attraction is combined with a marketing that borders on the spicy.
One last thing about the palace: not all rooms are open; the current royal family lives inside and occupies several buildings.
As Jai Singh II already had his house ready for him and his family, now there was a need to find a place for the thousands of inhabitants of his reign.
With the help of his chief architect he planned a city based on perfect symmetry resulting in the old town.
Broad avenues divide it into well-defined rectangles; each of them specialized in a trade. There are many shops that sell technical books for university students, electronics, trinkets, food stalls, hairdressers and high quality jewelry stores.
Luxurious and even insulting jewelry stores embellish MI Road, one of the largest avenues in Jaipur. Inside, entire families choose, as if it were a ritual, the best trousseau for them.
The hustle goes through walls. The transfer of people is endless. The stores have no end. The rickshaws get your attention every two steps. The sidewalks are occupied by motorboats that sell implausible objects and the dirt is embedded in the street sockets and arreates.
It is crazy, a reflection of the commercial nature of a country that is a world power and whose gross domestic product grows at a rate of 6% per year. Wealth and misery shake hands in this kind of swarm where worker bees have rebelled against the queen and have decided to make life on their own without paying tribute to anything or anyone.
And all that in a walled enclosure that receives the nickname of ‘Pink City’, a color that conveys purity. Actually, its nickname is due to the fact that all the interior facades are painted that color, a kind of postureo of the 19th century.
At that time, a visit of the then Prince of Wales to Jaipur was planned. Without skimping on details, to ingratiate himself with him and give him an exorbitant show of hospitality as he had never received before, the Maharaja then decided to paint the entire city of rose, the color of hospitality in the Hindu tradition.
And so I’ve stayed until today. There is so much respect for that decision that it is prohibited to paint any building in the old town of another color.
The rose also looks in the Palace of the Winds. A bottomless structure of which only the facade is preserved.
Fan-shaped, it was created so that women could peek into their tiny windows and observe the hustle and bustle of the city. Little could they see through those tiny holes and, of course, nothing could feel the rhythm that the streets of Jaipur, pure 45 rpm heavy metal vinyl.
Outside the old town, outside the walls, there is a city with colonial, wide and open avenues where the three lanes in each direction remain small in the face of crazy traffic.
It is usual and even gratifying to see how each block is solved within a few minutes or to witness how the jams are dismantled with the same ease that the cords undo their embrace.
In one of these avenues it looks, next to a Burguer King in which they serve spicy burgers with curry sauce, the Raj Mandir. More than a cinema is a journey in the time machine to the 80s.
The smell of tobacco on the carpet, uniformed comforters and Rococo decoration are the perfect prologue to a unique spectacle. Like the old neighborhood cinemas where for a little money you could dream a life in the far west or have a sneaky romance with Ava Gardner.
Already inside the room, without knowing a word of Hindi, the show is assured. But not through the big screen on which the latest success of the Bollywood factory is projected for more than 3 hours but on the spectators.
Young people who savor tasty and spicy samosas, parents who jump from armchair to armchair to find the best place for their family, mothers trying to close their babies’ mouths. But all with a common note: they pull the protagonists as if they were living in it.
Only for Raj Mandir is it worth going to Jaipur. If young Jai Singh II lived today, surely this old and glamorous cinema would be one of his favorite places where he would find the inspiration to capture the fairy-tale tales that his childish and creative mind imagined and then made.