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Jaipur city, Rajasthan India

Date of Submission: 15/04/2015
Criteria: (ii)(v)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Permanent Delegation of India to UNESCO
State, Province or Region:
Coordinates: N 26 55 0 E 75 49 0
Ref.: 6053
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Located in the eastern Rajasthan State of India, the city of Jaipur is well known for its 18th century town planning and Rajput Mughal architectural icons including architectural landmarks such as the City Palace, Hawa Mahal and the World Heritage Site of Jantar Mantar along with its diverse and thriving historic bazzars. Confined in a 2 sq km area within a well-defined city wall and 9 city gates, it boasts of magnificent architecture and is the one of the most renowned historic planned city of India from the 18th century. Though enclosed by city walls and protected by a range of forts on surrounding hills, the city of Jaipur was conceived not just as the military retreat of feudal warlords but as a commercial city, a business centre of thriving enterprise. 

The construction of the city started in 1727. It took around 4 years to complete the major palaces, roads and square. The city said to be built on the principles of Shilpa Shastra, is divided into nine blocks, of which two consist the state buildings and palaces, with the remaining seven allotted to the public. Huge fortification walls were made along with seven strong gates with addition of two more in latter periods. The directions of each street and market are east to West and North to South. The eastern gate is called Suraj (Sun) Pol, while the western gate is called Chand (Moon) Pol.  There are only three gates facing east, west, and north including the northern gate (known as Zorawar Singh gate) which faces toward the ancestral capital of Amber. The walled city is divided into sectors with main market streets. These primary streets form markets like Johari Bazaar, Sireh Deorhi Bazaar, Kishanpole Bazaar, Gangauri Bazaar, Chandpole Bazaar, Tripolia Bazaar and Ramganj Bazaar which are specialised markets for specific goods and functional till date as planned in the 18th century.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

Jaipur is an expression of the astronomical skills, historical values, unique urban form and exemplary foresighted city planning of an 18th century city from India. The grid iron planning of the city was very advanced for its times and certainly recognised as one of the best in the Indian subcontinent by many foreign travellers in 18th and 19th centuries.  While the grid iron pattern of planning has been used historically in city planning, it application at such a monumental scale for a planned trade city along with peculiar urban form makes it stand out as one of its kind in the history of urban planning of the Indian subcontinent.  Among the various monuments attracting the tourists is the Jantar Mantar, a World Heritage Site, which is one of the largest observatories ever built.

Criterion (ii): The historic architecture and town planning of the city exhibited an important interchange of Mughal and Rajput ideas in architecture and town planning over the late medieval period and came to be recognised as one of the role models in town planning across the globe.

Jaipur, designed as the new capital city of the Kachchwaha Rajaputs of Amber in 18th century was to be a much more visible sign of the state’s power and progress, and was meant to contribute to a significant change in its character. It was set apart from previous Rajput capitals which were typically established amongst or hills but Jaipur broke this mould as a city designed on the plains with a formal grid iron plan reflective simultaneously of the urban planning prescriptions from ancient Vastu treatise as well as contemporary western city plans. Planned well for its defense too, it was equipped with a city wall lying within easy reach of the fortified hills of Amber; while its strategic location on a plain, exposed towards the south of the previous capital of Amber with its main gates giving onto an imperial highway allowed it to open for trade.

Jaipur was conceived as a commercial city and a business centre of thriving enterprise by the Rajput ruler Sawai Raja Jai Singh II who served the Imperial Mughal rulers hence the city is inspired by the nearby Mughal capitals of Agra and Shahjahanbad to some extent in grandeur and architecture. However, the most outstanding feature of Jaipur remains its town plan that is said to be arrived at after a thorough analysis of several  town plans sourced by Sawai Jai Singh himself from across the globe.  Sawai Jai Singh wrote personal letters to personal bankers and merchants, inviting them to settle in his new city, inducing them with tax concessions and gifts of land on which to build elegant courtyard houses, called havelis, for the accommodation of their families. He sent invitations especially to Jain traders whose traditions led them – and lead them still – into industries that combine minimum violence with maximum profit, such as gem trading. Garnets, as it happens, are the only gems that can be mined locally, but a centre of distribution does not have to be near the source, and Jaipur soon became (and remains) one of the leading centres in Asia for the cutting and sale of precious and semi-precious stones, including lapis lazuli from Afghanistan, diamonds and pearls from the Deccan, and rubies from South-East Asia. Plots within or just outside the new city walls were found for the construction of havelis for all nobles and traders.

Its settlement planning through mutually accepted norms of communal living and sharing and its monumental buildings representative of the religious philosophy exemplified the best of the crafts and technology which actually saw growth of a regional architectural expression which is unparalleled in India. Jaipur city's planning with squares or chowkries in a hierarchy of living environment with street also as a community space is representative of the local wisdom and sense of strong community bondage. Though the internal arrangement complied with socio-cultural demands, the construction materials, the craft expressions and the techniques of construction achieved a tremendous harmony in its settlement form which resulted in a unified and climatically conducive living environment. The Jaipur Town Planning became a model to be emulated and it was replicated by smaller towns and cities across Rajasthan. Internationally, this exemplary town planning is well recorded and discussed in various urban planning foras as a visionary planning model of the 18th century.

The city's settlements and traditional house forms bear an eloquent testimony to the cultural traditions of various socio-religious bearing and have given a unique identity to the settlement which is world famous for its craft traditions and local wisdom in establishing a social order which emanated from their beliefs and adherence to the values enshrined in it. The haveli form as a self sufficient unit with its own provisions for water, sanitation and climatic control (the court yard as the focus) as a functional unit and its image and conception with religious symbolism expressed through architectural expression is the most ingenious example of habitat.

Criteron (v): Jaipur clearly represents a dramatic departure from extant medieval cities with its ordered, grid-like structure – broad streets, criss-crossing at right angles, earmarked sites for buildings, palaces, havelis, temples and gardens, neighbourhoods designated for caste and occupation. The main markets, shops, havelis and temples on the main streets were constructed by the state, thus ensuring that a uniform street facade is maintained in Jaipur.

In the walled city of Jaipur, the chaupars placed at the crossings of wide roads were designed to function public urban spaces for the local community and initially included water bodies. These spaces were, and still are, accessible to the people of Jaipur. Archival photographs showcase the use of roads, streets and chaupars being functional for a variety of routine activities while accommodating crowds that throng the streets of Jaipur during festivals and processions. The proportions, inclination and width of the main commercial streets and inner roads were arrived at with detailed mathematical calculations and are said to be derived from the astronomical proportions used in the Jantar Mantar observatory.  It is remarkable that this 18th century planned city continues to cater today to 21st century city traffic till date without any changes.

The walled city is divided into sectors with main market streets. These primary streets form markets like Johari Bazaar, Sireh Deorhi Bazaar, Kishanpole Bazaar, Gangauri Bazaar, Chandpole Bazaar, Tripolia Bazaar and Ramganj Bazaar. The saturation of the consequent markets gave birth to subsequent markets that grew into the interior of the residential areas of the different chowkris. The width of the consequent markets, like the main streets, is 110 feet, while that of the subsequent markets is 55 feet; these markets are rastas.

Interpreted in the light of the shastras, Jaipur’s grid plan is a mandala. The maharaja and the God Vishnu (as Govind Dev) reside together at the hub of the mandala, the centre of power, and are surrounded by their subjects and devotees, arranged according to their station. As accurately as the landscape permits, the walls and streets are aligned with the cardinal points, and if there has to be a little approximation in this regard then the illusion is assisted by naming the western and eastern gates of the city respectively Chand Pol and Suraj Pol, that is, in honour of the rising moon and sun.

Jaipur walled city has sectors 800m x 800m in size, which makes them ideally suited to predominantly pedestrian modes. Features of the enclosed palace environs are echoed in private residential sectors, where the basic unit is that of a haveli, a multistoried building with rooms facing an inner courtyard or a system of courtyards (sometimes as many as seven). The haveli principle was developed to contend with the extreme climate and to satisfy perse sociocultural requirements. Together, the havelis are accessible only from narrow alleys, and they form densely built residential complexes, the contours of which are determined by the layout of the larger streets. Such a complex is known as a mohalla; in addition to dwellings, it contains a number of artisan workshops, a temple or two and perhaps a mosque. Each mohalla typically accommodates about 40 to 50 residential plots, which makes them a cohesive social and cultural subgroup.

The city planning of Jaipur remains a unique response to the terrain that amalgamates ideas from the ancient Indian treatise to contemporary global town plans and Imperial Mughal architecture in order to finally produce a monumental urban form unparalleled in its scale and magnificence for its times.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

Since the inception of Jaipur as far as 18th century, it has been an international tourist destination (even visited by European travellers in 18th-20th c)  and its unique planning has fascinated many researchers, academicians and urban planners. These factors have increasingly put pressure for the conservation and sustenance of this historic city more so in the post Independence period. However, Jaipur has consciously adopted heritage conservation measures since 1970s during the formulation of byelaws in the Muncipalitis Act that allow it to retain the urban form and ‘pink colour’ associated with its earlier planning. A number of conservation initiatives for the walled city have been taken by international organisations, NGO’s and local government authorities since Jaipur became the capital of Rajasthan.  The town plan itself with the roads and inner streets as well as the bazzars remain intact in their original shape and form.

Jaipur is also the first city in India to prepare a city level Heritage Management Plan in 2007 which is now included in the Jaipur Master Plan 2025. All these aspects have helped in Jaipur walled city to retain its authentic character in terms of material, colour, spirit and location in all manner. The city form is well defined within the historic walls and gates as outlinedin the original 18th century plan and the bazzars and major streets retain their urban character. All major planning elements of Jaipur and architectural icons retain their authenticity.

The historic walled city area of Jaipur within the walls and the gates conforms to integrity of all the attributes (18th century town plan, urban form, bazzars and streets) identified for its nomination as a World Heritage Site.

Comparison with other similar properties

This comparative analysis aims to highlight the distinctiveness of Jaipur as compared to other historic cities in the geo-cultural region, by examining the influences on city planning, morphology, architecture and intangible heritage. Jaipur has been compared to the cities of Lahore, Agra, Lucknow, Cairo, Istanbul and Tunis in the broader region of Asia, Arab and European states. The architectural style and the planning principles which are the features of the above mentioned cities exhibits very rich heritage and are comparable to Delhi. However Jaipur stands unique as a culmination of various architectural styles and amalgamation of various cultures in a unique 18th century town plan form. This amalgamation of cultures reflects in the tangible and intangible elements resulting in a unique architectural form, city morphology and cultural traditions which today define its exemplary value at a universal level.

The Islamic city of Shahjahanabad was designed based on ideas and ideals of Persian city planning and the Indian text of Vastu Shastra. No segregation of the city was done based on religion which makes no analogues anywhere else In town planning of an Islamic city.

Architectural vocabulary developed encompassing elements from Indian, Islamic architecture, art and craft. Use of kaiash.or lotus motifs in Islam buildings or Incorporating chattris and chajjas in 20th century colonial buildings are examples of sensitive amalgamation of different styles. Such form of architectural amalgamation further influenced the architectural style of Lucknow and became a base for building design by the Nawabs. Gardens incorporated as elements of design and place for leisure was brought to Jaipur by the Rajputs from the small states.

Similar to the city planning concept of Islamic cities like Lahore, Cairo and Tunis; Jaipur also had a unique street layout with the primary axis leading to a central place of worship flanked by shops on either side. The secondary and tertiary roads were further segregated based on its functional need. Often the roads leading to the residential quarters would end in a cul-de-sac. A similar road network can also be seen in Istanbul where the Messe became the central road with several smaller linkages branching to different sections of the city. Jaipur stands out as an example of an interesting town plan that emerges from an amalgamation of ancient and contemporary urban planning principles ranging from the traditional Hindu treatise, imperial Mughal principles and western town planning.

Thus Jaipur is comparable to several cities mentioned above but its uniqueness lies in its legibly planned city form, urban grandeur and scale that was unmatched in any 18th century city across the Indian subcontinent and possibly across the globe for its time.