Jaipur Diaries – Unforgettable Travel Experiences in The Royal Pink City
No trip to India can be complete without a tour of this gem of a city – Jaipur, The Pink City. Immerse yourself into a historical world that exists side by side a growing urban life, as you weave your way through the chaotic city streets, navigating between auto-rickshaws, bikes and cows. Yet when you step into one of the palaces or historical places, the urbanity melts away and is replaced with an age-old regality, serenity and breathtaking beauty. Soak up the flavor and ambience of this colorful city as much as you can; you are not getting an experience quite as this one anywhere else!
#1 – Hawa Mahal (Palace of Wind)
Hawa Mahal was built as an extension of the City Palace – the women’s chambers, Zenana, from where the female members of the royal family could look upon daily life on the streets below, unobserved. This huge red sandstone building has over 950 windows or jharokhas, and lives up to its name, as currents of wind are circulated through these windows throughout the complex!
Location: Johari Bazar
Timings: 9.00AM to 5.00PM
Entry: Side entrance near the rear end of the building
Entrance fees: Rs.10 (Indian), Rs.50 (Foreigner) with camera
#2 – Amber Fort
Built in a combination of Hindu and Muslim styles, this sprawling fort-complex atop a hill, which tourists can climb on top of an elephant. The fort is named after the town of Amber, which was in turn named after the goddess Amba. Visit the Diwan-i-Am, the Jai Mandir, the stunning Sheesh Mahal and the Sukh Niwas to experience the beautiful architectural layout of tha place, done up entirely in white marble and pale yellow and red sandstone. From the Jai Mandir you can get a beautiful view of the Lake Maota below.
Location: Amer town
Entrance Fees: Rs. 25 (Indian), Rs.200 (Foreigner)
#3 – Jantar Mantar
Built by Jai Singh, Jantar Mantar is a royal observatory very close to the City Palace – it is the largest of the five built by Maharaja Jai Singh. Inspect the huge and bizarre structures that are strewn around the area, each built for measuring up the skies. The name Jantar Mantar comes from the Sanskrit words “yanta mantr” which mean ‘instrument of calculation.’ From measuring time with high precision to representing the constellations of the zodiac signs, from predicting eclipses to determining celestial altitudes, the Jantar Mantar has various interesting instruments for all.
Entry Fees: Rs.40 (Indian), Rs.200 (Foreigner)
#4 – City Palace
Located in the middle of the city and taking up nearly a seventh of the city’s area, the City Palace is a sprawling palace-complex containing several courtyards, gardens and buildings. Since these buildings have been added and adapted by several rulers over many years, the architecture is an interesting and beautiful hybrid of Mughal and Rajasthani styles. Enter through the Mubarak Mahal, visit the Diwan-i-Khas to see the pair of huge silver vessels considered to be the largest silver objects in the world, the Diwan-i-Am.
Entry fees: Rs. 100(Indian), Rs. 400(Foreigner) with camera
#5 – Nahargarh Fort
For a stunning view of the entire city and the Man Sarovar Lake, take a trip to the Nahargarh Fort or Tiger Fort sitting high up on the edge of the Aravallis. Legend has it that Nahargarh was named after Nahar Singh, a dead prince whose spirit haunted the place and thwarted any attempts at construction till it was agreed that the fort would be named after him.
Entry fees: Rs.10 (Indian), Rs.30 (Foreigner)
How to reach: Take a rickshaw from M.I. Road, Rs.50 to the end of Nahargarh Fort Road and then walk up 2Km.
#6 – Jaigarh Fort
This unconquered fort is the home of the world’s largest canon on wheels, the famous Jaivana, which was test-fired only ever once. Also known as the Victory Fort, it overlooks the Amber Fort and allows a fantastic view over the city. Historically considered as the strongest of the three forts, the Jaigarh fort complex has beautifully laid out gardens, an armory, a museum as well as the Laxmi Vilas, Lalit mandir, Vilas Mandir and Aram Mandir.
Entry fees: Rs.50 (Indian), Rs.200 (Foreigner) with camera
Guide: Rs.100 (Hindi), Rs.150 (English)
#7 – Albert Hall Museum
The State Museum of Rajasthan as well as the oldest museum in the state, Albert Hall Museum was designed by Sir Swinton Jacob in a mixture of North Indian and English styles of architecture. Named after King Edward VII (Albert Edward), this museum houses a cast collection of miniature paintings, sculptures of ivory, stone and metal, colorful works on crystals, musical instruments, etc. It also has on display an Egyptian mummy.
Entry fees: Rs.20 (Indian), Rs.150 (Foreigner)
#8 – Jal Mahal (Water Palace)
This is a fairy tale palace come to life – an ethereal floating palace in the middle of a lake. Jal Mahal on the Man Sagar Lake is a beautiful view to take in, especially on cold winter dawns, when the mists have just begun to lift from the waters, the greyish-green mountains behind are looming in the early light and the vendors making and selling bird-feed out of dough have begun their daily work. Feed the birds, take stunning pictures, watch a sunrise or a sunset over the picturesque lake.
Note – Check if the palace is open for public, as maintenance works often mean closed doors!
#9 – Sisodia Rani Palace Garden
For a quiet stroll in the evening, you can visit the beautiful Sisodiya Rani Bagh, built by Raja Jai Singh II, for his second wife. This is a serene multi-level garden with gorgeous fountains, tiered landscape, watercourses and lush greenery. Enjoy a quiet time by yourself roaming in the painted pavilions and galleries and inspecting the intricate murals that depict stories of Lord Krishna and hunting scenes that adorn the outer walls. If you are tired of walking uphill to forts and shopping in the Pink City, this is an ideal place to take a break.
Entry fees to terrace gardens: Rs.5 (Indian), Rs.10 (Foreigner)
#10 – Pink City Walk
Your city tour will be incomplete without a hands-on experience of the colorful streets of the Pink City itself! The city was named because of the color it was painted to imitate the red sandstone of the Mughal buildings. But the earthy color you can now see is a result of the more recent repainting job when the Prince of Wales, Charles visited India in 1876. Shop in the numerous stores along the sides of the road and buy colorful Rajasthani jewelry and clothes and beautiful leather goods. And in Jaipur, the haggler’s paradise, never pay the original price!
Once of you have seen the beautiful palaces and forts and shopped in the many busy bazaars of Jaipur, you will have had one of the best travel experiences of your life. Do not forget to eat delicious Rajasthani food like Dal Bati Churma and Ghewar, or have a tall glass of thick and luscious lassi! From Jaipur you can go on to magnificent Jodhpur, the serene Udaipur and beautiful Jaisalmer, if you want to enrich your Rajasthan trip even more. But if you are starting your Rajasthan trip, Jaipur must be your first stop.