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March 9, 2000
Pink City freshens up for Clinton's arrival
Kamla Bora in Jaipur
US President Bill Clinton, who is coming to Delhi on a five-day visit to India, is slated to visit Jaipur and the Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve in neighbouring Sawai Madhopur district. And every effort is being made to make the visit a memorable one.
Clinton is likely to stay overnight in the city during his proposed two-day visit. He will be visiting the historic Amber Fort, a well-preserved monument. Clinton will also visit Ranthambhore sanctuary to see tigers roaming free in the wild. However, unlike other dignitaries who visited the Pink City in the past, Clinton will not be able to experience the humming city life and splendor of the old town because of security considerations. He will have to skip a visit to the City Palace and legendary Hawa Mahal (palace of wind), located in the heart of the city and which was founded by astronomer King Sawai Jai Singh in AD 1927.
Also, unlike other state guests, he will not be staying in the Raj Bhawan (Governor's residence) but in a new five-star hotel at the outskirts of the city.
Official sources say that the US president will be hopping around -- to Amber Fort and Ranthambhore tiger reserve -- in a helicopter, avoiding road routes although roads leading to these places are being renovated just in case.
Old Jaipurians still have fond memories of the visit of British queen Elizabeth who drove down the streets of the Pink City in January 1961 accompanied by then ruler Sawai Man Singh. Prince Philip following her in the next car with Bhawani Singh, the present head of the Jaipur royal family.
The Queen's retinue also visited Ranthambhore to shoot tigers. That earned her flak from animal-lovers back home in England. The city also welcomed Soviet leaders Bulganin and Khrushchev in the sixties with great enthusiasm.
In fact, the city owes its pink colour to yet another royal visitor, the then British Prince of Wales, before his accession as Edward VII. Maharaja Ram Singh (1820-1880) got the entire township painted in pink to give the royal guest a colourful welcome in 1876.
King George V in 1905 and Edward VIII in 1921 (before their respective accessions) also visited Jaipur and Queen Mary travelled from Agra to Jaipur in 1911 during her visit of India.
No viceroy could resist the temptation to visit Jaipur. The Duke of Connaught, after conducting a Delhi darbar on behalf of his eldest brother, King Emperor Edward VII, visited Jaipur in 1903 along with his Duchess. A darbar was held in the city palace. There Maharaja Madho Singh II was decorated with the Grand Cross of the Victoria Order.
The crown prince of Germany also visited Jaipur in1911 during his India tour and conferred on the Maharaja the Grand Cross of the Prussian Crown.
The Pink City witnessed its last grand royal celebrations barely four months after the country's independence, in December 1947, when Maharaja Sawai Man Singh celebrated the silver jubilee of his rule. It was attended by the last British viceroy of India, Lord Mountbatten, who invested the last Maharaja with the title of the Grand Commander of the Star of India) in a darbar held in the city palace.
Although Clinton is the first US head of state to visit Jaipur, then first lady Jackie Kennedy has visited the city.
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