If you're planning a trip to the Pink City, let Sian help..
'Jaipur was the first city I visited in India over 10 years ago, where I lived, volunteered and immersed myself for many weeks. It was here that I first fell in love with India and where I have returned year after year. Not only have I spent a lot of time in the city and have many friends there, I have also researched the city extensively for my job as an India travel specialist. Therefore, if you only have a short window to visit Jaipur, let me show you the magic of this city with my personal recommendations...'
Arrive into the hustle and bustle of the city and check in at one of the gorgeous boutique hotels such as Samode Haveli, 47 Jobner Bagh or 28 Kothi. For those on a budget, it’s definitely worth considering Arya Niwas or Dera Rawatsar. If wanting to splash the cash then the opulent choices would be the Taj Rambagh Palace or Sujan Raj Mahal (visiting this property is a must do for the interiors alone)!
Spend the remainder of the day relaxing and taking the afternoon slow. Visit the chic Caffe Palladio for a light lunch and good coffee, whilst taking a few snaps of it’s insta worthy decor. Afterwards, walk the short distance to the Narain Niwas Palace hotel where there is a fabulous shopping enclave filled with lifestyle boutiques. Enjoy browsing the shops and treat yourself to soft cotton block print dresses, pashima shawls and stunning jewellery.
If you still have the energy on your first day, get an auto rickshaw or taxi to take you just out of town up to Nahargarh Fort before sunset. Enjoy a cold drink from the Padao Restaurant (best not to have the food..) and sit overlooking the city below as dusk descends. As the sun dips below the horizon, Jaipur sparkles with thousands of lights whilst the Call to Prayer rings out from the cities many mosques – it truly is a magical introduction to this special corner of Rajasthan.
Get your Pink City fix today as you explore this great city. Rise early before breakfast and join the ‘Pink City Rickshaw Company’ as you discover Jaipur in the quiet morning time. With the help of some brightly coloured e-rickshaws, the Pink Rickshaw Company is a charitable organisation that supports women from low income households with employment opportunities. The organisation does fantastic work, enabling the friendly female rickshaw drivers to be equity holders, where they manage and own their own e-rickshaws. Be sure to book the ‘Wake up with Jaipur’ tour, which will take you through the spectacular ‘phool mandi’ (wholesale flower market) along with the active and vibrant Govind Devji Temple.
After a quick breakfast, head to the City Palace when it opens where you can get lost in it’s courtyards and buildings. Don’t forget to go deep inside towards the palace’s inner courtyard where you will find the beautiful gates that represent the seasons – the Lotus Gate (that depicts Summer) is simply stunning with it’s intricate paintwork.
Opposite the City Palace you will find the Jantar Mantar, the impressive observatory which was built to measure the heavens. The instruments can look confusing at first, therefore using a local guide here can be very beneficial and will help to bring the place alive. Afterwards, continue a short distance to Jaipur’s most distinctive landmark, the Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds). Just seeing the Hawa Mahal from the outside is impressive enough as going inside is not quite as special and can often get claustrophobic. Instead, admire the view with a cold drink and a bite to eat from the opposite Tattoo Cafe which will give you the best vantage point in town of this famous monument.
Finish the day with a scrumptious dinner at one of the cities many exciting restaurants. For those who love style, head to Bar Palladio which is arguably one of the most beautiful eateries in the city. If looking for a budget meal but without compromising on taste, then you can't go wrong with the Peacock Restaurant located on the rooftop of Hotel Pearl Palace.
After breakfast take a car/auto rickshaw 11km to the town of Amer. Here you will find the spectacular and formidable Amber Fort which sits high on a hill, overlooking the Maotha Lake. The fort itself houses an extensive palace complex and can easily take a couple of hours to enjoy in it's entirety. Don't forget to look up when you're walking around to really appreciate the beauty - especially as you walk through the intricate Ganesh Pol archway. Before travelling back into the city, do spend some extra time in Amer as there are other little gems worth seeing, such as the Panna Meena Stepwell and Anohki Musuem of Hand Printing.
After a good morning of exploring, take a hearty and authentic lunch at one of Jaipur's roadside dhaba's. One of the best is Shree Khandelwal Pavitra Bhojanalaya located on the Amer Road, which does the best dal makhani and butter naan! The whole lunch is unlikely to cost more than a fiver for two!
The afternoon can then be dedicated to one of Jaipur's most favourite activities - shopping! Get lost in the labyrinth of bazaars that criss-cross the old city, which are still divided into traditional artisans' quarters. Bapu Bazaar and Johari Bazaar are two of the more well known areas, famed for their fabrics, trinkets and jewellery. Others worth a visit are Kishanpol Bazaar and Nehru Bazaar (fabrics, jootis and perfume). Shopping in the real bazaars is always more satisfying than the large factories and showrooms which can be found dotted throughout the city. Most of these types of establishments get bus loads of tourists and sell at inflated prices!
If shopping is not your thing, why not catch a Bollywood movie in Rajasthan's most iconic cinema, the Raj Mandir. A cinema experience here is not what you may be used to - whooping and clapping at the screen is actively encouraged! Picking up a plate of samosas during the interval is also highly recommended. Advance booking is your best chance of securing a seat, but you can join the crowds at the booking office too.
For your final evening why not treat yourself to a special dinner at The Orient Occident inside the Sujan Raj Mahal Palace, which is a formal dining space within the hotel. If you're craving something other than a curry then you could also consider Steam which is within the grounds of the Rambagh Palace. The renovated steam carriage restaurant offers pizzas and other Mediterranean fare.