Rajasthan is full of outstanding and breathtaking landscapes and cities, full of delicious cuisine and amazing traditions and full of art. Not without a reason it was also named this way as Rajasthan means “Land of Kings” as this state of India is also full of forts and palaces of all kinds. It is even full of different colors and the great examples are the colorful cities of Jodhpur (Blue City), Udaipur (White City), Jaisalmer (Golden City) and we have one more that is called the Pink City – Jaipur. The Pink City of India is also the capital of Rajasthan and the most populated city in this state. Visiting North India you should not skip this place as it is diversified and it will definitely affect your senses.
The city based on Vedic principles
Maybe the history is not as old as many other Indian cities but the city has definitely a lot to offer. It was founded on 18th November 1726 by Maharaja Jai Singh II whose plan was to shift growing population of Amer (just 11 km from Jaipur) to a new city. But he didn’t do it without a proper plan – Jai Singh II consulted building of the city with architects and his goal was to use the principles presented in Vastu Shastra (ancient Vedic text which focuses on architecture) and Shilpa Shastra (another Vedic text which talks about art and designing). Thanks to his commitment, Jaipur became the first well-planned city in modern India. After 4 years of constructing roads, palaces, offices and homes, Jaipur was ready to be inhabited. Palaces in Jaipur together with some state buildings were located in two blocks (with the City Palace in the center of the city), seven blocks were allocated for the public. This nine-grid pattern is taken from ancient Vedic texts and is believed to bring luck.
How to reach Jaipur?
The options are similar to the one that I presented in the post about Udaipur . For those, who care about time the best option is, of course, taking the flight. Apart from plenty domestic flights to the main Indian cities (like Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru Kolkata, Chennai and of course Udaipur), you can also catch some international flight if you are on the way back home (Dubai, Abu Dhabi or Singapore which can also be a great option for transfer and from there you can choose a direct flight home). If you want to see both Udaipur and Jaipur the fastest way to travel between these cities is simply a plane. Those, who prefer admiring landscape, I recommend taking the car or a bus (tourist or local – depending on your budget and preferences). Jaipur is nicely connected with Udaipur, Delhi and Mumbai. Jaipur is also connected with the main cities of India by rail, so this is also a great option for you to travel and have the chance to observe more. Remember that Indian railway offers you different classes – from the cheapest which can cost you barely 135INR to around 1000 INR. Now it is totally up to you , which option you choose. But please, bear in mind that different money means different quality. I faced many opinions of international tourists who are on a budget trip and they buy the cheapest possible ticket and later they talk around that Indian railways are in a terrible condition. What they fail to understand that Indians are actually providing services to all kinds of people – from the richest to the middle class and also the poorest, that is why they all can travel but depending on their budget they choose appropriate class. So, all tourists, even though you choose the cheapest class, remember that India has much more to offer and if you pay more, you get better facilities. But don’t judge on the basis of just one class you have chosen. India also has very luxurious maharaja kind of trains which I will be talking about in the future, otherwise also known as ”palace on wheels”.
Hotels in Jaipur
It is something that you definitely don’t have to worry about. This city is full of tourists as it is also a part of the Golden Triangle which is famous especially among these tourists who don’t spend too much time on traveling. Apart from Jaipur, it includes Delhi and Agra and there are special tour packages which offer the Golden Triangle trips. But coming back to the main point, Jaipur hotels offer you a huge range of prices from budget hotels to 5-star luxurious hotels like for example Shiv Villas in Kookas (a little bit outside the city) with amazing interiors and outstanding staff. Otherwise, you can easily book some cheap hotels in around 1500INR.
You can be sure that in Jaipur you will not die hungry 🙂 Go for delicious and iconic Rajasthani thali! This is definitely a must-try. To find out what thali is check this post . Apart from this, Jaipur is famous for excellent pyaaz ki kachori which is simply a snack made of onions and different spices and then fried in dough. Yummy! If you have a chance, try also Ghevar – a sweet made of different types of flour and soaked in special sugar syrup.
Forts around Jaipur
And it is finally time for sightseeing. And trust me – there are plenty of places to visit in Jaipur! Let’s first focus on three outstanding forts around Jaipur. Amber (or Amer) fort is located 11km from Jaipur and it astonishes every person who comes nearby. Its grandeur is so remarkable that with a clear conscience, I can admit that I have never seen anything so grand and majestic. Made of red sandstone and marble, it offers you a typical Rajasthani style art. This massive fort overlooks Maota Lake on which you can observe a stunning Kesar Kyari (Saffron Garden). What surprised me there is that most of the corridors were a bit narrow and with really tall walls – all of them looked the same. All this was done to mislead the enemy just in case he managed to enter the inside. There is no way not to get lost there 😉 But, don’t worry – you will not face this situation these days 🙂
In Amber fort you can take elephant taxi to reach the Sun Gate. Another great experience for you! Save some time for walking around Amber Fort – there are few courtyards, garden and chambers. But definitely, it is worth a visit. Another great fort is Jaigarh Fort – somehow it is said to be a complex together with Amber fort because of underground passages (build to let the royal family shift to another fort in case it is required) that connect both of them. Jaigarh was built by Maharaja Jai Singh II in 1726 to protect the main Amber Palace. Once you go there, you will be able to experience an outstanding view of Aravalli hills and Amber fort (as Jaigarh is situated higher than Amber). Those who are interested in armory can find there a real masterpiece – Jaivana Canon, which during the time it was produced, was the biggest canon on wheels in the whole world (which by the way was never used in any battle but only test-fired)!
Apart from this, one can visit the museum, walk around the majestic palace complex and get stunned with the assembly hall of warriors known as “Shubhat Niwas”. And now a special mysterious story for you. Do you know why Jaigarh fort was until some time not open to the public? It is said that under a water tank, a huge treasure was buried and a thorough search was carried out in the 1970s. Some claim that there was no treasure found and others believe that whatever was found, was taken away by the current PM of India – Indira Gandhi. And now the last port, which is also located on the Aravalli Hills – Naharghar Fort. And this time some haunting story – it is believed that the construction of the fort was disturbed due to the presence of the dead prince – Rathore Nahar Singh. In order to continue building the fort, the king decided to build a small temple and name the whole complex after the prince. The amazing interiors will stun you and the mesmerizing view will impress almost everyone.
Now, let’s go back to the main part of the city – Pink City. The main attraction is City Palace (a big palace complex) which outside part was built in the 1700s by the current Maharaja Jai Singh II. Other parts were added later. By the way, you can buy a special ticket which lets you also enter Amber and Jaigarh forts 🙂 City Palace consists of many important parts which definitely has to be discovered. It has palaces, stunning gates, courtyards, gardens, museum and there is still a part where the royal family lives. For example, some parts of “Chandra Mahal” (Moon Palace) have been turned into a museum showing the royal heritage and outstanding handcrafted products while the rest remains a private palace of the royal family. Another palace – “Mubarak Mahal” (Welcome Palace) was a place where the Maharaja used to host all the dignitaries. On one of the courtyards in a special pink-stone gallery for private audiences (Diwan-i-Khas) you can find two huge silver vessels which are 1.6m high and they are said to be the largest silver objects in the whole world! 14 000 silver coins were melted to produce vessels. One of them has a volume of more than 4000 liters. On the other hand, you can also find a hall for public audiences (Diwan-i-Am) where there are small tiny copies of some of the ancient Vedic texts.
Jantar Mantar – the Observatory
Sightseeing in Jaipur can not be completed without seeing Jantar Mantar (if we translate it, it is something like “Instrument for calculation”), which is the largest observatory in India. The Observatory was constructed by Maharaja Jai Singh II who was known for his love to ancient science. The instruments were used for observation of constellation and stars in the sky. What is surprising, even though you are in the middle of the city, you can get there a special feeling of calmness surrounded by all these astronomical instruments. Even today’s scientists are stunned by the accuracy of all the instruments.
Hawa Mahal – a must-see in Jaipur
Close to the City Palace complex, Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds) is located. It was built by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh for royal women to observe through special latticework windows special events and parades. The building consists of five floors and 953 small windows! If you can’t get inside due to lack of time, seeing it from outside is a must-do in Jaipur!
Hand-made products paradise
While exploring Jaipur, try to see the Man Sagar Lake with Jal Mahal (palace) in the middle. Jaipur is famous for its art, gems and many hand-made products which you can easily encounter walking the streets. As Rajasthan is a desert state, it is very easy to see a camel, so if you want, try to ride a camel! Unforgettable experience!
Jaipur can be seen in one day if you are in a hurry, but if you have time, try to spend at least two nights in the capital of Rajasthan. Tourism in Jaipur is constantly growing and becoming more tourists friendly. Stunning Pink City will take you to a totally different world and snake charmers will take to the world of some sort of fairy tale. Rajasthani art, cuisine and tradition is something that one should experience at least once in a lifetime.