Rajasthan is famous for its vibrant colours, from the flash of a hot pink sari to the warm glow of an orange-hued sunset. But, did you know, several cities in Rajasthan are affectionately nicknamed with one colour in particular? Let us break down the colours of Rajasthan for you…
First up amongst the colours of Rajasthan…the ‘Pink City’ (Jaipur):
The capital city of the Indian state of Rajasthan, and a key destination along the region’s famous Golden Triangle, Jaipur is widely recognised as the Pink City. Arrive here, and you’ll instantly see why. Every building within the walled part of the old city is splashed in a terracotta, salmon-like pinkish hue. There are few exceptions given that the colour is enforced by law in this part of the city!
Jaipur caught its pink blush under the reign of Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh in the mid-1800s in anticipation of a visit from Prince Albert. To strengthen ties with the British aristocracy at the time, the Maharaja went all out to impress the prince; not only by painting the entire city, but he also constructed a lavish concert hall – the Albert Hall – in his name.
So how does Jaipur remain pink so many years later? It’s said the Maharaja’s wife at the time adored the colour scheme and suggested her husband pass a law making it illegal for buildings in this part of the city to be painted any other hue. Mirza Ismail Road, popularly known as M.I. Road, is a fabulous example of this, as is the City Palace and the Palace of Winds.
Another well-known colour-coded city in Rajasthan is Jodhpur, the ‘Blue City’:
Take a walk through the narrow lanes of Jodhpur‘s old city, and you’ll instantly see how it earned its moniker. Stand up high on the ramparts of Mehrangarh Fort that looms over the town, and you’ll be treated to a fabulous view of a sea of blue-hued houses. It’s not exactly known how this came to be, but one theory is that the blue represents the Hindu god Lord Shiva, and daubing your home in this colour is auspicious.
Another theory is that it represented social status. Brahmins, the highest-ranking Indian caste system, are associated with blue. By washing their homes in this colour, they differentiated themselves from other/lower castes.
Some say the blue colour helps keep their home cool in the hot Rajasthani sun. Others swear it’s because the shade helps keep termites away!
Speak to a local Jodhpurite, and you’ll probably get a different theory. Nonetheless, the blue landscape you’ll soak up in Jodhpur is beautiful, regardless of how it got there!
Next up on the rainbow of Rajasthan is the ‘Red City’… Bikaner:
Some say Bikaner is the ‘Purple City’; we say it’s red! Perhaps we should settle somewhere in the middle… but magenta doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, does it?
Bikaner took on its reddish hue in the 18th century when wealthy local merchants built their lavishly-carved havelis (elaborate, large homes) from red sandstone. Take a stroll around the old part of town, and you’ll see lots of these beautiful buildings, though many are sadly now abandoned and forgotten.
The ‘Red City’ doesn’t often make it onto most visitors’ itineraries, and, in our opinion, is so underrated. Being relatively off the typical tourist path, Bikaner retains a certain charm. Junagarh Fort is stunning to explore, and a visit to the nearby ‘rat temple‘ is certainly unique!
and a ‘Golden City’ on the edge of the Thar desert; Jaisalmer:
The medieval city of Jaisalmer rests on the fringes of the Thar desert. Jaisalmer Fort, a vast 12th-century citadel where many locals still live, shop and work, is constructed entirely of sandstone, emitting a golden hue. This fort isn’t ‘just another Indian fort’; it’s unique in that roughly 5,000 people still inhabit it. It’s one of few ‘living forts’ left in the world and is full of activity. Within it, you’ll find a labyrinth of narrow streets dotted with homes, stalls, temples, havelis, offices and even hotels (Killa Bhawan is our favourite; it has a real boutique vibe to it and a fabulous view from the rooftop).
Like Bikaner and Jodhpur, Jaisalmer was once a thriving trade town, strategically located along the route connecting India with Asia. Huge taxes were imposed on the camel caravans that passed through, which nicely lined the locals’ pockets and allowed them to construct elaborate havelis carved from the golden sandstone.
Beyond the walls of Jaisalmer Fort, the yellow vibe continues with the golden sands of the Thar desert. Catch the sunset from the pristine sandy dunes alongside an amber-hued camel, and you couldn’t get much more golden!
Lastly, amongst the colours of Rajasthan, we have Udaipur, the ‘White City’:
Udaipur’s dreamy, romantic city is more popularly referred to as the ‘Venice of the East’ or the ‘City of Lakes’. Though it’s also known as Rajasthan’s ‘White City’. Much like its Rajasthani counterparts earlier on in this list, the name comes from the local architecture. Many of the buildings surrounding the lakes are a creamy white tone, and the palaces are constructed from white marble. Most famously, the 18th-century Lake Palace (now a luxury hotel) that appears to float majestically in the middle of Lake Pichola is a dazzling milky hue.
Two or three nights in Udaipur usually fall at the end of our guest’s itineraries, thanks to the city’s laidback and relaxed atmosphere. It’s the perfect place to unwind after the bustle of Jaipur and Jodhpur, and Udaipur’s luxury hotels are consistently recognized amongst the best in the world.
If you’d like to explore the colours of Rajasthan on your next getaway, please do get in touch. As seasoned experts in private, tailor-made tours of this specific region and with a proven track record, we’re the ideal match to assist with your arrangements. Meanwhile, our sample Rajasthan tours serve as fabulous inspiration to get you started and share a flavour of the possibilities. But remember, all our trips are entirely tailor-made to suit you perfectly.