Jaipur may not be the most ancient of Indian cities, but it is one the richest when it comes to cultural heritage, aesthetic beauty and all round colourful exuberance. And what better base from which to explore it all than the beautifully renovated environs of a 100 year old palace – Karma Haveli.
The capital of Rajasthan – a state famed for its beautiful temples, forts and palaces as well as its intricately wrought textiles – Jaipur is one of the fastest growing metropolises in the sub- continent, with a population of more than seven million. But if greater Jaipur is sprawling, the ancient city is perfectly self-contained, featuring a collection of bazaars, palaces, temples and traditional homes. It was built in the 18th century as one of the very first planned cities in India and is founded on ancient and sacred Hindu principals of architecture.
If you were to fly above old Jaipur, which is contained by a wall, you might be able to recognize its distinctive geometric shape, which is based on a Mandala with eight segments (the ninth points to heaven). Within the city’s walls can be found picturesque avenues whose blush tones gave Jaipur its nickname of ‘The Pink City.’ Originally, the colour scheme was designed to echo the ancient sandstone cities of the Mughals, though the whole city was painted pink in 1853 to welcome a visit by the then Prince of Wales.
There are countless attractions in and around Jaipur – amongst the most interesting of its many monuments is the Jantar Mantar, a collection of giant astrological instruments, including one that reaches 27 metres into the sky. They were built in the early 18th century by the then Maharaja. There are many hill forts in the vicinity too, the most significant of which is the prodigious Amber Fort, which reflects both Hindu and Muslim architectural styles and dates back to the 16th century.
Beyond these attractions though, Jaipur’s charm lies in the rhythms, sights and sounds of the Old City, which are best discovered by simply wandering the streets. In the heart of all of this, you’ll find Karma Haveli, (haveli means mansion), a heritage hotel that dates back a century and has been loving restored to reflect its former glory. Featuring just 20 rooms, all with en-suite bathrooms and many boasting grand four poster beds, it is built around a central courtyard and has a wealth of period features, including a variety of decorative stone tiles on the floor, ornate arches and columns and an authentic bawdi for bathing. Guests will love the roof terrace, the perfect spot for a refreshing cocktail or ice-cold beer.
Karma Haveli offers an authentic atmosphere and contemporary comforts in India’s cultural heartland.