Just 280 km from Delhi, the pink city of Jaipur prides itself on a design that was outlined with fine detail.

Did you know that the state capital is the first planned city of the country, established over 290 years ago?

Amber (Amer), a city set in the midst of mountains, was the original capital city of the Kachwaha Rajput kings till the 1700s.

But continuous droughts and famines had prompted the then king, Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, to scout for other potential cities in the kingdom to replace Amber.

Thus, the city of Jaipur came into being.

Set on a plain terrain and surrounded by mountains, Jai Singh saw Jaipur as the perfect base for his kingdom.

The king had ascended to the throne in extremely challenging circumstances — with the Mughal emperors levying heavy taxes while the Marathas were conquering new territory.

However, in the midst of defending his kingdom from the two armies and securing his base, Jai Singh II was a mathematician, architect and astronomer at heart.

“He found that the positions of heavenly bodies obtained from the tables in common use in his days varied widely from those determined by actual observations,” writes Umasankar Mitra, a Physics professor.

When the traditional calculations conflicted with his observations about the time of new moon days, he established astronomy observatories in Delhi, Jaipur, Varanasi, Ujjain and Mathura.

With his vast knowledge, Jai Singh II embarked on a journey to build a new capital city for his kingdom.

He recruited Vidyadhar Bhattacharya, an architect from Bengal who worked as the Chief Auditor of the Rajput king, to guide him in the process.

The two wise architects designed a blueprint for Jaipur around 1727, dividing the city into nine squares, each symbolising the nine planets in the solar system.

Two of these divisions were reserved for state buildings and palaces while the rest was reserved for the general public.

Vidyadhar and Jai Singh II built 20-feet-high walls surrounding the capital with seven gates (two gates were added later) on all sides.

Jai Singh had planned the city such that each street went east to west and north to south.

It is said that Jai Singh wrote personal letters to bankers and merchants, inviting them to settle in his new city, and inducing them with tax concessions.

He would also give them land to build elegant courtyard houses, called havelis, for the accommodation of their families.

It took Jai Singh II about four years to finish the construction of Jaipur—the city named after the king himself. Jai Singh’s passion for astronomy, knowledge of mathematics and Vidhyadhan’s experience in architecture made Jaipur India’s first planned city, the majestic brilliance of which can still be seen today, nearly 300 years later!