Exploring Jaipur, India: The Pink City (Haute Travel)

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seeing the pink city through windows at Hawa Mahal

If you were a women during the Mughal era of India, you may have been viewing the city through a window like this one, at the amazing Hawa Mahal in Jaipur.  Besides being a major city in Indian monarchal history, Jaipur is an amazing modern city, melding the architecture and spirit of the past, with the current modern India (see the fancy McDonald’s building below).

McDonald's in Jaipur

McDonald’s in Jaipur

Jaipur is a city full of culture and history, with many sites to see, that is also not too large and easy to get around if you are bold enough. Though they are building a subway, you can brave buses or bikes, or hire a private care to take you around.  If you plan to tour the city, consider the following itinerary for a few days, or roam around it on your own.

Two days in Jaipur

Day 1

  1. City Palace
  2. Jantar Mantar
  3. Lunch at Jai Mahal Palace Hotel
  4. Hawa Mahal
  5. Dinner at Peacock Roof Top Restaurant

Day 2

  1. Climb to Garh Ganesh Temple
  2. Prince Albert Hall Museum
  3. Lunch at Rawat Kachori
  4. Amber (Amer) Fort
  5. Jal Mahal
  6. Fancy Dinner at Rambagh Palace

Optional Day 3:  Nargargh Fort, Chauki Dhani, Jaigarh Fort, exploring the city

Day 1 Overview:

Start your day early with a visit to the City Palace in Jaipur, still home to the Maharaja of Jaipur (King Padmanabh Singh, just 16 years old).  This is a beautiful site, right in the center of the city, where you can view life as it is and was in monarchial India.  From the Royal Court, to the armory, you can view much of this vast palace and it’s vast history, though not the private living quarters of the king, of course.   We even caught a real Cobra charmer just outside the main gate!

inside City Palace

inside City Palace

ornate architecture in City Palace

ornate architecture in City Palace

snake charmer at the City Palace Gates

snake charmer at the City Palace Gates

A short walk from the palace gets you to Jantar Mantar, an astrological and geometrical masterpiece of the Mughal Era, which predicts time and space to the second, using buildings placed strategically in a massive courtyard. (Note:  pick up a composite ticket to this site, and get visits to several other sites in Jaipur included in one price.) Using the north star as a focal point, many of these buildings are marked with various time stamps, to allow you to understand dates and time with no help of a clock.  This is a great challenge for any mathematician, but an awe-inspiring site to see.

jantar mantar

jantar mantar

jantar mantar

jantar mantar

Take a break and head to Jai Mahal Palace Hotel for a buffet lunch.  This hotel is a popular spot for many visitors and some locals, as it is in a formerly used palace, and is not only lovely but delicious as well.

After lunch, head back into the city for a visit to the breathtaking Hawa Mahal.  This was the former summer spot for the kings and their courts, noted for the breezes which fill the various spaces (Hawa means breeze).  Jaipur, like much of India, is especially hot in the summer months, so this mansion palace was a great respite for those who used it.  An architectural masterpiece, you can wander the various rooms and courtyards of this palace, and get lost for hours, all while trying to climb to the top for some breathtaking views.

hawa mahal

hawa mahal exterior

inside haws mahal

inside hawa mahal

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views from hawa mahal

another window for women to peer out to the city

bringing in the breeze

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another window for women to peer out to the city

After your trip to Hawa Mahal, spend the afternoon shopping the main drag of shops for souvenirs, jaipur style blankets, or other goodies.  Head to have a relaxing dinner at Peacock Roof Top Restaurant, to feast on North Indian food as you peer into the city and the sky, and wind down from your day.

Day 2 Overview:

Kick off day two with an energizing and somewhat difficult climb to Garh Ganesh Temple.  This temple is situated on the top of the city, overlooking the whole expanse, and serving the Hindu God, Ganesha.  This is not something for everyone, but can be a glorious experience if you make it up.

steps to garb ganesh

steps to garh Ganesh

view from garh Ganesh

view from garh Ganesh

After this trek, cool down at the Prince Albert Hall Museum, a massive and beautiful mansion built for the visit of Prince Albert, which was converted into a museum of Indian and worldly history (from mummies to ancient Indian art).

beautiful Prince Albert Hall

beautiful Prince Albert Hall

Afterwards, grab an authentic Kachori (savory indian puff pastry) lunch, to fuel up for a trip to the massive Amber Fort (also called Amer Fort). With walls akin to the massive Great Wall of China, this fort was built along the edge of the city (and meets with other forts) as a protectorate for any invasions.  You can catch some of the most amazing views and architecture here as well.  The is one of the top sites to see in Jaipur, and will take you a bit of out of the main city to access. Amber fort is home to some lovely gardens and the fantastic Hall of Mirrors (Sheesh Mahal), but this has been closed off due to damage by tourists in recent years.  Still, this site is worth spending a few hours to visit.

views from inside amber fort

views from inside amber fort

outside the main gates at amber fort

outside the main gates at amber fort

royal court for receiving visitors in amber fort

royal court for receiving visitors in amber fort

gardens at amber fort

gardens at amber fort

outside the hall of mirrors in amber fort

outside the hall of mirrors in amber fort

After a full day, relax with a fancy dinner at the famed Rambagh Palace, one of the Taj Group Hotels, noted for it’s beauty and historical significance.  It is opulence at it’s best in Jaipur, mainly because it was the former home of the king…so you can expect princely prices here.

I also included some optional items for a third day in Jaipur, including Narhgarh Fort, Jaigarh Fort and Chauki Dhani (a spot to learn about Rajasthani culture).  All decent items if you extend your stay in the lovely Pink City.  Jaipur has so much to offer, it’s definitely a Haute Travel destination when in India!

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