A few kilometres from the city of Jaipur, just to the west of the famed Amber Fort, one may find a rather majestic site that finds a parallel in few other tourist sites in the world, one of them being the famed Royal Tombs at Golkonda in Hyderabad. This is Jaipur’s Gaitore, the site whereat one may find clustered almost all of the cenotaphs of the past rulers of the city.
There are many who say that Gaitore’s name was derived from the words in Hindi for “Resting Place of the Departed”, although there has yet to be a definite linguistic consensus on that. Whatever the case for its name’s origins, the site is most definitely one that deserves attention, both for its gorgeous sights as well as for its historic value. It must be said, first of all, that this place is far more than a location for cenotaphs dedicated to the maharajas. In fact, the cenotaphs are only placed here as a result of its primary purpose, which is to provide an official location where royal cremations might take place.
The past rulers of Jaipur were the Kachwaha Rajputs, are typically identified by the first name “Sawai” and the last name “Singh”. To this day, several of their descendants are yet in existence and actually do occupy some of the buildings in Jaipur’s City Palace complex, such as the Chandra Mahal. The locals continue to uphold the tradition of having a maharajah, although this is no longer a true administrative post given that India got rid of the privy purses of the maharajas in 1971: rather, the maharajas of Jaipur are now icons of political as well as cultural value.
Whenever a Kachwaha ruler passed away, he would be cremated here, in Gaitore. His cenotaph would then be erected in the place, and would often be designed specifically to suit his own preferences for design when he had been alive. This obviously means that each cenotaph is distinct from the others, a visual confection of royal tastes and styles from different periods and sensibilities. It can be most intriguing to walk up to each marbled cenotaph and inspect the gorgeous carvings of peacocks and traditional Hindu or Islamic decorations on each one; every cenotaph is unique, and you might even discover one that fits your particular preferences too.
Some of the cenotaphs at Gaitore do stand out more than others, though. For example, that of the second Maharajah Sawai Singh tends to draw the most attention, perhaps because it simply looks so sumptuous. It even glows at night due to its construction being of the purest and whitest marble. Whatever cenotaphs you do end up fixating on, you are certain to find an example of some of the finest artisanship here, for only the best workers were ever commissioned to create the tombs. The only member of the ruling family not to have his cenotaph here, by the way, is Maharaja Sawai Ishwari Singh: his is behind the Palace of the Moon, also known as the Chandra Mahal.