Jaipur is the capital city of Rajasthan, a northern state of India. Jaipur is affectionately known as the “Pink City”, as the walls of Jaipur’s historic City Palace are washed in a vibrant salmon colour. The pink colour was used to create an impression of red sandstone Mughal buildings and was repainted in 1876 during the visit of the Prince of Wales. It is still maintained scrupulously today.
The maharajahs of Jaipur were among the wealthiest royalty in Indian history. Ancient forts and grand palaces are sprinkled throughout the city, and provide an excellent insight into the lavish lifestyle of the maharajahs of yesteryear.
If you look at Jaipur today, you’ll realise this remarkable city was built much before its time. It was considered a marvel of town planning and drew the merchants and artisans to its wide streets and mohallas (neighbourhoods), which were earmarked for them. Traditional crafts like jewellery, metalwork, enamelling, tie-dye, stone carving, pottery, leatherwork and miniature painting patronised by the rulers in the 18th century continue to thrive to this day. It is a city with a timeless quality to it; a place where the ancient and the modern co-exist in complete harmony.
The city has grown, the population has increased and a lot of new structures have come up, but the planned city has withstood all these pressures and changes. The focal point of the walled city is the palace complex that lies in the heart of Jaipur and occupies the space of the central grid. The rest of the grids were cut across neatly by wide lanes which divided the area into tidy, well laid-out rectangles of commercial and residential use. The fortified wall has seven gates and was built for protection from invading armies (of which there were none, thankfully) and of wild animals that lurked just outside in the thick jungles which surrounded the city. The gates are still there and well maintained, but now always kept open.
The Pink City was also the setting for ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’.
Here are a few of our favourite things to see and do in Jaipur:
1. The Jantar Mantar Observatory
Today, tourists can discover the extravagant architectural projects sponsored by the royal family; including the Jantar Mantar observatory, which received UNESCO World Heritage status in 2010. Built by the scholar Maharaja Jai Sing II, this astronomic device is still precise almost three hundred years on.
2. City Palace and Museum
Jaipur’s City Palace houses an outstanding, if somewhat eclectic, museum of miniature paintings, textiles and costumes, weapons and musical instruments.
3. Amber Fort and Palace
Outside the city, the magnificent Amber Palace rests on top of a mountain. Here, you’ll find many impressive public rooms decorated with marble, mirror work and mosaics.
4. Dera Amer
On the outskirts of Jaipur, you can experience quality time with elephants in a humane environment. Dera Amer is a fantastic alternative to elephant rides at Amber Fort, and the beauties at Dera Amer are looked after exceptionally well. Rides are not encouraged here; instead, a gentle walk at sunset alongside your elephant is particularly outstanding and the perfect complement to any tour of Jaipur. We recently re-visited Dera Amer. Click here to see how we got on.
5. A private cooking class in Jaipur
Kalwara House in Jaipur provides private cooking lessons, where you can learn the secrets of traditional north Indian cuisine. You may choose to learn the dish of your choice, and then sit down to eat the feast you’ve prepared together. Mrs Singh, your teacher, will show you tips and tricks on recreating these aromatic dishes at home. A private cooking class in Jaipur provides a beautiful insight into Indian culture and is a unique experience.
How to place Jaipur in your itinerary
Jaipur is a must on your India itinerary. It is either a point on India’s Golden Triangle (Delhi, Agra and Jaipur) or a stop on a more thorough tour of Rajasthan. At least two nights are necessary to explore Jaipur, but if you wish to truly soak up the rich culture and heritage of the Pink City, three or four is better.
After Jaipur, take the three-hour drive to Ranthambhore, to spot wild tigers in their natural habitat at Ranthambhore National Park. Alternatively, head to Jodhpur and then on to Udaipur – Rajasthan’s most romantic city and home of the fairy-tale-like Taj Lake Palace.
Where to rest your head
Jaipur has a selection of fine hotels to choose from. In particular, The Oberoi Rajvilas is an excellent choice. The Oberoi Rajvilas sprawls across 32 acres of greenery and even houses a 280-year-old Lord Shiva temple and Indian haveli (intricately-carved stone townhouse) on its vast grounds. The haveli has been carefully and extensively renovated, and now serves as the luxurious Oberoi Spa, which offers Ayurvedic therapies for beauty and relaxation.
The Oberoi Rajvilas is the perfect base from which to explore one of India’s most striking and vivacious cities. This tranquil retreat evokes princely Rajasthan and exceeds the exceptional standard of service one expects from a premium resort.
If you’d like to explore the best of Jaipur on your upcoming trip to India (as part of a multi-day, tailor-made itinerary) do get in touch. As specialists in bespoke tours of Rajasthan and its environs, we’re the ideal match to assist with your arrangements.0