As I was walking along Chaura Rasta, mesmerized with the beauty and splendor of architecture and urban systems around, I just observed the temples; yes, there were temples of all forms, all styles and all deities’ spreads across either side of the road and established as a very important element of architectural vocabulary of the area. Seeing so many temples all around, I was simply spellbound, and I decided to do a study and then I found out that walled city of Jaipur has one of highest density of temples in the country. Again, a Wow!!
The search continued and so did the study. I found out different typologies of Temples within the city – Temples with Shikhars, Haveli temples and also Temples with Baradari, and this is not all, as, then there were temples with multiple courtyards, single courtyard and no courtyard. I found more than 400 temples within a small area of walled city itself. Moreover, these temples are so beautifully organized and blend in the city fabric that one can identify the precinct with the temple itself and temple with the precinct. These temples of Jaipur put the city on a map parallel with the city of Brindavan or Varanasi which are known as temple towns.
The temple towns, are the cities characterized solely with their association with the temples, be it Brindavan as the city of Krishna temples, Varanasi the city of Ganges Aarti or Madurai as home to Meenakshi temple. The importance of Temples in Jaipur can be realized as one notices that the king proclaimed himself to be representative of the God and aligned the Govind Dev ji Temple directly with King’s palace or if one stands at any of the city square and discovers that the skyline is dominated by the temples be it Lakshmi Narayan temple at Badi Chaupar, Sita Ram temple at Choti Chaupar or Murli Manohar temple at Ramganj Chaupar, moreover if one stands at any junction, it will find a temple right across, like Kalki Temple at Sireh Deorhi gate.
Thus, although having a parallel association with temples like any other temple city, Jaipur is nowhere recorded as a temple town. The spirit of Jaipur is unified with temples, still, Jaipur has been able to retain a distinguishing character of its own. I think this has happened because of the spirit of the citizens and immaculate planning by Sawai Jai Singh ji (II). This festive spirit of Jaipurites where they take pride on enjoying each and every moment in life be it with the kites in the sky, colour in the air or the light all around, celebrating Teej Mata ki Sawari, relishing Jain tableau (Jhaakiya) on Mahaveer Jayanti, or announcing the availability of best Finis at Sambharwala and best Doodh ke laddu at Bhagat.
While planning the city, the king blended the best of elements in the urban fabric of the city where everything coexists and that’s the reason why we have the best of the temples coexisting and not competing to govern the city’s character. These temples of our city are the nodal points which enhances the different characteristics and elements of our city making Jaipur, a melting pot in true sense. And taking lessons from our past, we should continue to preserve our heritage practices while developing new elements enhancing city’s character further.