India is one of the greatest countries in the world to travel. It has its challenges, for sure, and that’s half the fun of going there. If you don’t face the odd challenge or two when you are travelling, you may have a great time but are you growing in any way? And my memories of Jaipur, from when I first visited way back in 1999, is that it was a place that challenged and overwhelmed me somewhat. I was reticent to even leave my hotel some days, and when I did I ended up at some guy’s place who was pushing me to take gems to Europe for him.
I’m glad to say that didn’t happen, but I didn’t return for a long time to Jaipur, until 2018, just over two years ago now, when it was the city I touched down in on my little getaway in March that year.
Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan, a state in India with immense beauty and so many interesting cities to explore you might actually think the whole place was designed with tourism in mind. Palaces, temples, hills, lakes, views aplenty, if you haven’t been before you’re missing out. It’s a dry state, and by that I mean it doesn’t see anywhere near the rain that other parts of India do. So it can at time seem rocky and dusty, but then I find a dry heat much more preferable to a sticky wet heat which you find when you travel south from Rajasthan.
Anyway, Jaipur is a great place to start and if you’re heading for a Rajasthan trip, well, you can fly into Jaipur which means you get to avoid DELHI, which really is something you’ll probably want to do (sorry! I don’t like Delhi but that’s a personal preference!). Jaipur is a great introduction to not only Rajasthan but to India, because although it is a pretty big city with a population of around 3 million souls, this is NOTHING compared to some of the cities in India such as Kolkata, Chennai and the aforementioned Delhi. So it’s not AS intimidating.
Indian cities are busy, populated and as noisy as cities you might find anywhere, and then there’s hassle and people trying to sell you things and the fact that you stick out as a foreigner and that can be a bit much for people in India, especially if you’ve just arrived, but in some ways there’s a real charm about it all too.
And Jaipur is not short of things to see and do, and so today I want to highlight the best of what I saw in Jaipur, because you can easily find enough to keep you busy for five or more days. Let’s start with perhaps the most obvious –
The City Palace is pretty central and is a pretty impressive collection of buildings. It dates back to the early 1700s when it the court of the Maharaja, it had previously been located at Amber, not far away and a place that is coming up. It was still in use as an administrative and ceremonial seat of power until 1949.
It is a pretty popular place to visit, and so you won’t be the only person there, but it’s quite spacious with lots of different courtyards. There are more arches than you can count as part of the architectural design, with lattice work a feature around them. The colours are browns and pinks – Jaipur is known as the Pink City (although I should say pink is not as prominent in Jaipur as blue is in Jodhpur). There were a few collections of paintings and artefacts inside too worth having a look at. All in all it’s pretty impressive.
This is apparently dated at around 1720 as well, although it doesn’t feel so old. Basically it’s an observatory or sorts, with a giant sun dial constructed by the Maharaja Jai Singh II as one of five constructed in different cities in India.
There are other devices, all giant sized that you can see and explore. It’s popular more among the locals it seemed like perhaps a place that couples might hang out. There are some gardens to relax in, and with it’s large walls you feel protected from the traffic a little. I saw a few chipmunks whilst chilling there. It’s quite unique and kind of cool.
The city of Jaipur has a number of large gates which I guess let you into the old city. The Ajmeri Gate is the one I visited and I think the largest and most seen, it’s sort of pink, a dark pink, fitting in with the official colour of Jaipur which is nice, and obviously is painted and maintained regularly. You won’t stop there for a very long time, but it’s certainly worth seeing and you’ll want a photo!
The Royal Gaitor, or Gaitor Ki Chhatriyan is on the outskirts of town. Above you will see the hills which guard Jaipur from attacks from… well no-one these days but from opposing Kingdoms back in the day. On top you’ll notice a large-ish wall. Rajasthan was once split into many areas ruled by different rulers.
Although a lot of people don’t mention this place, it is one I visited both in 1999 and 2018, and it’s really pretty. The Gaitor is a collection of cenotaphs – which is another word for tombs, but it comes across as almost a sort of palace in many ways made from marble I think with decorated arches. It’s quiet there and it doesn’t see the visitors of the City Palace, and there is something quite serene and beautiful about this spot. Top of Form
Man Sagar Lake
Beautiful lake on the way out to the Amber Fort. In the midst of it is the Jal Mahal, the Water Palace. You can’t visit the palace, but apparently you can take a boat out on the lake if you choose. You certainly can get some decent pictures from land!
Also known as the ‘Amer Fort’, is around 11 kilometres from Jaipur at the town of, unsurprisingly, Amer. It’s a real highlight so you should try and get to it if you can! First warning – as with all forts it’s on a hill, so you need to climb!
The original structure was constructed from 1036AD, the current one dates back to the 16th century so it has a long history this site. There are great views and it really is very beautiful. And it is also fairly amber in colour too!
The Hawa Mahal is a palace, in Jaipur itself and sort of… well it’s along a busy road in between some buildings. The façade is really something, you won’t miss it if you walk past, it’s almost bursting out towards you!
It dates back to 1799 and has 953 small windows and is said to resemble a ‘honeycomb’. I didn’t go inside but I know someone who has, and it’s pretty special too in there. If I return to Jaipur one day I have this down as the place I must do a proper visit of! I was mistakenly of the impression when I was there in 2018 that it couldn’t be visited.
Sun or Monkey Temple
Known in the local language as ‘Hanuman Ji’ (I THINK), this is also somewhere on the outskirts of town, and up a hill below taller hills. It’s a nice enough temple I guess, but the views of Jaipur are stunning and it really seems to be in the part of town where the monkeys like to congregate. Which may not be a plus for you – I really am not a huge fan of monkeys, they look like they are about to jump you as soon as you see them! (please note, it appears there are two Monkey temples in or around Jaipur, another is around 10km from Jaipur and looks more impressive!) It is possible that the rickshaw wallah, with limited English, said monkey temple because there were monkeys around in this area. There was a sign there dubbing this the ‘Sun’ Temple.
This building dates back into the late-1800s it seems, and is actually a museum. Not only a museum, possibly the oldest Museum in all of Rajasthan! It’s in an interesting position with roads all around it, and I hadn’t heard of it when I was there in 2018, but my auto-rickshaw went past it and so I asked the driver to pull over so I could get a shot of it without knowing what the building was. I hear the museum is well worth visiting too!
Other posts involving Jaipur –
Well, there you are – so many awesome things to see mean many awesome reasons to visit Jaipur. And I’m sure I’ve left a few out! Thanks for popping by today and having a gander – hope you’re well wherever in the world you may be! Have you been to Jaipur? What else would you recommend? Please Comment and…. May the Journey Never End!