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The city owes its name, founding and planning to the great warrior-astronomer Maharaja Jai Singh II (1693–1743). In 1727, with Mughal power on the wane, Jai Singh decided the time was right to move from his cramped hillside fort at nearby Amber. He laid out the city, with its surrounding walls and rectangular blocks, according to principles set down in the Shilpa-Shastra, an ancient Hindu architectural treatise. In 1728 he built Jantar Mantar, Jaipur’s remarkable observatory.

In 1876, Maharaja Ram Singh had the entire old city painted pink, a colour associated with hospitality, to welcome the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII), and the tradition has been maintained – the current maharaja is a great polo chum of Britain’s Prince Charles.