The Jaipur Rundown
Easily one of the most captivating cities in all of India, if not Asia, Jaipur beguiles scores of annual visitors with architectural gems galore, a venerable culinary landscape and a phenomenal cultural scene. Without question, the state of Rajasthan’s "Pink City" is a bucket list destination with a deluge of attractions in store for hearty travellers. Home to a tidy population of 4 million people, the original Maharaja city of Jaipur was one of the first purpose-built capitals on the subcontinent when Sawai Jai Singh II consolidated his wealth and power in 1727.
The city was not build on a whim. Rather, the area that is now old Jaipur was the deliberate result of decades-long forethought and careful, mathematical precision, all in council with the best engineers and architects of the era. Faithful restoration work over the decades ensures that contemporary visitors can enjoy the fruits of the Maharaja’s labour - and considerable patronage.
Indeed, with memorable points of interest like the indelible pink sandstone Hawa Mahal palace, stately Albert Hall and hilltop citadels like Amber Fort, Nahargarh Fort and Jaigarh Fort, Jaipur necessitates much more than a mere day trip. As a gateway to the rest of remarkable Rajasthan, a heritage sanctuary, vibrant modern metropolis and bastion of endemic folklore, Jaipur is a sublime city that rewards the most acute wanderlust aches.
Jaipur’s Top 10
10. Iswari Minar Swarga Sal is a prominent minaret that offers lofty views of Jaipur.
5. Jantar Mantar is a UNESCO World Heritage astronomical observation site built by Maharaja Jai Singh II in the early 18th century.
9. Royal Gaitor contains some intricate cenotaph work in a lush area north of the city.
4. Amber (Amer) Fort dates back to the late 16th century and stands as a masterpiece in regional citadel architecture and design.
8. Central Museum in Albert Hall exhibits a collection of relics, objects and artefacts that span almost every aspect of traditional Rajasthani life.
3. Nahargarh Fort overlooks the city from a perch in the Aravalli Hills and contains many fine Rajput architectural details.
7. Birla Lakshmi Narayan Temple is a relatively modern shrine with beautiful marble-work.
2. Hawa Mahal is Jaipur’s fabulous “Palace of the Winds”. The landmark’s honeycomb-like facade is an iconic Rajasthani photo-op.
6. Temple of the Sun God
is famous for its resident monkey population but is much more notable for exquisite views of the Rajasthani hinterland.
1. Jaigarh Fort sprawls over the Aravalli Hills some 400 m from Amber Fort and contains a terrific museum of royal artefacts.
- Nahargarh Fort – A 19th-century masterpiece with captivating high-rise rooms giving a panoramic view of Jaipur in the night.
- Government Central Museum (Albert Hall Museum) – Located in Ram Nivas Garden, this old place established in 1908 has documents, antiques and objects.
- City Palace – The biggest attraction in the city with a museum, gardens, courtyards and buildings in a huge area.
- Arms and Armor Museum – Holds an ancient and medieval collection of arms and weapons.
- Jai Niwas Garden – This garden has four tiers, fountains and a manmade lake built by JaiSingh in 1727.
Jaipur Art & Culture
- Hawa Mahal – Known as the Palace of Winds, this was built for Rajput women to see through its many windows.
- Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing – Exquisite textile museum located in a 400-year old restored fort.
- Jantar Mantar – The observatory built by Sawai Jai Singh for astronomical observation.
- Laxmi Narayan Temple – Built by the Birla family, this white-marble temple appears to glow in the night.
- Chokhi Dhani Village – A replica of a Rajasthani village showcasing the local culture.
- Johari Bazaar – This is your one-stop shop for jewellery, clothes and textiles.
- Bapu Bazaar – This place offers plenty of handicrafts, wall hangings and metal artefacts.
- Saraogi Mansion – Has many famous stores, especially for Indian bridal trousseaux.
- M. I. Road – Around since 1852, this area is where you will find the best-quality jewellery, gems, stones, diamonds and precious metals.
- Kripal Kumbah – Get your Jaipur blue-pottery souvenirs here at reasonable prices.
Gay & Lesbian Jaipur
- Tree of Life Resort & Spa – Gay- and lesbian-friendly place set on a peaceful seven acres of land.
- Bouncer Bar – A two-floor mixed bar with cute bartenders that is frequented by some gays.
- Maharaja Ranjeet Singh Park – This is one of the gay meeting places in Jaipur.
- B2B – The Jaipur nightlife experience is probably incomplete without having visited this disco, which is most crowded on Saturday nights.
- The Rock – This cowboy-themed restaurant in uptown Jaipur has exotic drinks and food.
- Sisodia Rani Ka Bagh – The multilevel Mughal-style garden was built for Sawai Jai Singh’s wife.
- Iswari Mindar Swarga Sal – Climb to the top of the minaret for great views of the old city.
- Abhaneri Step Well – This is the largest step well in India at 33m deep, 3,500 steps and seven levels, about 95km from Jaipur.
- Kanak Vrindavan Gardens – Located 20km from Jaipur’s centre, this garden is the place to relax away from hectic city life.
- Monkey Temple – Can be a fun place to visit, but don’t tease the army of monkeys.
- Experience complete rejuvenation with Kerala Ayurveda Massage technique at Kerala Ayurveda Kendra.
- See organised polo matches by the Royal Jaipur Polo Foundation.
- Watch elephant polo in the only place that has it.
- Play golf at the Rambagh Golf Club next to the Rambagh Palace.
- Enjoy an international cricket match at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium.
Jaipur is a pilgrimmage point for prospective and veteran urban planners hungry for inspiration. The original, now old, city was built in accordance with strict Vedic Vastu Shastra principles in order to facilitate the comfort and good fortune of residents. Although the modern-day metropolis extends way beyond the old walls, visitors to the original core city can easily make out the ingenious mandala (Sanskrit for “circle”) plan that made Jaipur the envy of Rajasthan in the early 18th century.
The Old City, or Pink City, then, is the place to be in Jaipur. A foremost enclave of priceless ancient architecture, narrow bazaar-ways and pink sandstone monuments, the original city is one of the most popular tourist targets in India.
Central Palace Distict, as the name suggests, is home to Hawa Mahal, Chaugan Stadium and several temples and markets of note.
Bani Park District, in northwest Jaipur, is a popular haven for travellers in search of green space, affordable accommodations and decent restaurants.
Rambagh District contains a few upscale areas and attractions, such as the Jaipur Polo Ground and Golf Club.
Ashok Nagar District is a popular commercial and hotel area beyond the south wall of the Pink City. The precinct is home to Deer Park, Central Museum, Jaipur Zoo and Ram Niwas Garden.
Jaipur Eat & Drink
The culinary traditions of Rajasthan have few rivals on the subcontinent. Far from homogenous, the dominant state in India unfurls a multitude of folk cultures and traditions. Restaurants in Jaipur reflect much of this inherent diversity.
Handi Restaurant (MI Road) is a place where ambiance is secondary and food is top-drawer.
Natraj Restaurant (MI Road) strays all over the culinary road map but delivers very good North Indian, Chinese and continental fare nonetheless.
Peacock Rooftop Restaurant (Hari Kishan Somani Marg, Hotel Pearl Palace) offers photogenic views of the city and superb cuisine to boot.
OM (Church Road, Ashok Nagar) is Jaipur’s conspicuous revolving restaurant that, most happily, rates highly with discerning diners.
Ganesh Restaurant (Nehru Bazaar, Old City) is a pint-sized eatery furtively located on the old city wall.
Moti Mahal Delux (MI Road) is arguably the best all-around Indian restaurant in Jaipur.
(Nehru Bazaar, Old City) has been a shopkeeper and office worker favourite in Jaipur since 1964.
Kanji (Station Road) is a popular, low-profile restaurant with locals, where the emphasis is on humble comfort food made well.
LMB (Johari Bazaar, Old City) whips up some of the best thali, roti and naan in the Pink City.
Thali House (Station Road) is a temple of Rajasthani cuisine, with every iteration in glorious representation.
Jaipur is a modest festival city with a nice array of cultural events and spiritual holidays throughout the year.
Holi, the colourful Hindu Spring festival, takes place sometime in February or March and features many vibrant rituals and special foods.
Diwali is the national “Festival of Lights” in India that takes place over five days in October or November.
Elephant Festival is a foremost tribute in India to the most venerable of pachyderms. The festival is part of Holi and takes place at Chaugan Stadium.
Gangaur Festival is specific to Jaipur and Rajasthan. A celebration of harvest and marital fidelity, the festival starts the day after Holi ends and lasts for 18 days. Colourful processions and sweets figure prominently for the occasion.
Jaipur Literature Festival draws national and international writers together in the Pink City every January for a variety of workshops, symposiums and lectures.
Sawai Mansingh Stadium is a 30,000 capacity cricket ground that hosts One Day Internationals on a regular basis.
When To Go
Two climatic factors come into play when considering a trip to Jaipur: heat and monsoons. The city gets hit hard with dusty, choking heat in the months of April, May and June, when temperatures regularly soar above the 104°F (40°C) mark throughout the day and hover at 75°F (24°C) at night. Air conditioning aside, it’s not the most comfortable time of year to truly enjoy Jaipur or Rajasthan’s charms.
Visitors who touch down in July, August and September don’t necessarily fare much better. The three months are the “semi” in Jaipur’s semi-arid climate. Over 75% of the city’s 690 mm of average annual rain falls during this time. Though far from Kolkata’s tropical downpours, potentially damaging to overall holiday enjoyment nonetheless.
With the daytime sun threatening to sear open-air amblers even in November and March, the obvious travel window of opportunity in Jaipur consists of the months of December, January and February, when conditions run from a cool low of 46°F (8°C) to a reasonable high of 26°F (32°C).
What To Miss
Touts, snake charmers and a host of sedulous street performers take the opportunity to ply, prod and harass obvious non-locals in the popular Pink City at every turn. Call it business unusual in the tourist-heavy capital of Rajasthan. To cope and overcome, walk with focus, exert preternatural prudence and give pesky peddlers and entrepreneurs the cold shoulder.
The same degree of caution is necessary with tour operators who invariably suggest, with apparent and casual non-spontaneity, points of interest and commercial establishments not on the official itinerary. If you know what you came to see in Jaipur, kindly insist your local guide sticks to the script.
On a related note, the commission trade is a healthy industry in Jaipur that extends beyond official tour operators. Many locals, from auto-rickshaw and taxi drivers to hotel staff and scrappy street grifters, work some kind of hustle on the side. Prepare to say no a lot and discern the honest from the insincere.
Jaipur International Airport is a small transport hub by India’s standards and certainly not on par with the likes of Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai or Bengaluru. The airport handles barely over 1 million passengers a year and the vast majority are of the domestic variety. A relatively new terminal, however, makes the airport in the suburb of Sanganer a handsome gateway to the city proper, which resides about 13 km away. Major destinations outside of India that connect to Jaipur International include Dubai, U.A.E. and Muscat, Oman.
Rail and bus are two of the more popular modes of transport into the Rajasthan capital. The national railway offers efficient service to and from the likes of Delhi, Ahmedabad, Agra, Mumbai, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Kolkata, Indore and Jabalpur. A variety of private and government-run buses run daily between Delhi and Jaipur. As always, you tend to get what you pay for in terms of service and car class for either. Alternatively, travellers can also hire cars in Delhi - with or without a chauffeur - to make the 4 hour journey to Jaipur.
Public transport within Jaipur is more than decent and quite affordable. The state tourism bus department runs full day, half day and night bus tours of the Pink City. Auto-rickshaws are ubiquitous but do require steely nerves and, moreover, where drivers are concerned, patience, vigilance and diplomacy. Taxis are a much safer and, for the most part, friendlier alternative. Though Jaipur is not necessarily a pedestrian-progressive metropolis, enclaves within the old city really should be explored on foot.
One of the most alluring cities in all of India, Jaipur enthralls visitors with architectural wonders, sumptuous cuisine and a rich cultural scene. Indeed, Rajasthan's "Pink City" is a phenomenal gem, with a surfeit of attractions in store for intrepid tourists. Home to just over 3.3 million people, Jaipur became the first planned city in India's history when the Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II established his base of power here in 1727. Within four years and after much careful deliberation and consultation, the Maharaja built what was in his mathematical and strategic mind, the ideal capital.
Indeed, with unforgettable landmarks such as the pink sandstone Hawa Mahal palace, exquisite Albert Hall and expansive fortress complexes, Jaipur is never dull. The explicit challenge in fact, is to find enough time to see every jewel the city and proximate areas in Rajasthan have to offer. Whatever the case, be sure to make some time for authentic Jaipur theater, music and folk culture, not mention the sublime cuisine.
Attractions & Activities
- Hawa Mahal
- Jaigarh For
- Nahargarh Fort
- Jantar Mantar
- Amber Fort
- Camel Festival
- Elephant Festival
- Gangaur Festival
- Summer Festival
- Jodhpur Riff
Restaurant & Nightlife
- Gulab Mahal
- Choki Dhani
- The Copper Chimney
- Castle Mandawa
- Library Bar
- Mansagar Bar
- Devis Club
The monsoon months between June and September are perhaps not the best time to visit Jaipur. Other than that however, the weather in the city is quite amenable.
- Winter (December to February) 9-24°C
- Spring (March to April) 17-36°C
- Summer (May to September) 23-39°C
- Fall (October to November) 15-32°C
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