Chowkri Purani Basti Block: three storey building

Chowkri Sarhad was the palace block with temples, gardens and other royal buildings. Other chowkris were Purani Basti that was earmarked for residences of leading courtiers; Topkhana Desh was for the Thikanedars around Jaipur, chiefs of the state's divisions; a block combining Chowkri Modikhana and Vishveshwarji was designated for use by rich Jain and Hindu businessmen and other officials. Most of the city's old families still maintain their ancestral havelies here.

Merchants occupied one part of Ghat Darwaza while artists and workers occupied the other parts. Chokri Ramchandraji contained important temples and havelies built by maharajas, maharanis and leading nobles. Located on the north east of this chowkri were small residences of royal staff and craftsmen. These chowkries were further divided into smaller wards and sub-wards.

The least developed were Topkhana Hazuri and Chowkri Gangapol because these were later additions. While the former was uneven and sandy, used for the artillery of the ruler and by poor artisans, the latter was used mainly by labourers. When you walk through these chowkries you will notice that these are still not as well developed or designed as the rest of the city.

The new city was enclosed by a fortified wall 20 feet in height and 9 feet in width and pierced by seven (considered an auspicious Indian number) major gates, similar in design with a large central opening flanked by two smaller ones on either side. The gates are Suraj Pol, Chand Pol, Ram Pol, Shiv Pol, Kishan Pol, Ganga Pol and Dhruv Pol. Man Pol, better known as New Gate, was a later addition.

You will go through most of them, so do look out for the huge wooden gates with metal strips (for added strength) and guardrooms built into the central opening. These were not just decorative gates but had a very important function. They were closed at night for protection against intruders and wild animals that roamed outside the walls. This happened till early twentieth century and there are people still living who remember those days.

Chowkri Purani Basti Block: three storey building