Nearly 3 centuries since its inception, the pink city of Jaipur is not so pink any longer. The pink is where it was sometimes taking on an orange hue under the glare of the afternoon sun though it has been slowly and steadily edged out by the sprawling modern city growing beyond its walls. The gateway to Rajasthan, Jaipur is fast emerging as a sought after business destination but for tourists, the best time to experience the colours of Jaipur is between October and March when the air is nippy and the warm sun is more than welcome . I had limited time on hand and had a long list of do’s and with a little bit of planning, I could squeeze all of it in a day.
8am to 1.30pm
1. Amer Fort is an imposing structure overlooking the Maota lake about 13kms away from Jaipur. Originally built by Meena kings as a tribute to Goddess Amba, it was modified and rebuilt by Raja Man Singh and enhanced by his successor Raja Jai Singh. The elaborate courtyards, mahals and palaces with impressive carvings and inlay work leaves the visitor spellbound at the larger than life stature of the Rajput kings and their opulent life styles. It is open from 8am to 4pm for visitors and the light and sound show from 6pm in the outside lawns is highly recommended to experience the history of Amer.
2. Jaigarh is the victory fort named after Sawai Jai Singh II who built this as the military fort to protect the living quarters of Amer Fort. The fort museum has some rifles, armoury on display as well as the 20 feet long, 50 tonne Jaivan cannon which was made in the Fort foundry but was never used. The long passages along the fort lead to a courtyard overlooking the artificial lake that sustains Jaigarh. Choose a guide carefully who will explain things around and not force to visit the fort shopping area.
3. Nahargarh Fort was constructed by Sawai Jai Singh II in early 18th century. This fort on a ledge at the side of Aravalli Hills provided a magnificent view of Jaipur and was often used as a hunting retreat. Infact, you can see the fort from different parts of Jaipur specially Jantar Mantar. Later Madho Singh extended the fort to include living quarters for his queens which were all similar in design and connected through a long corridor. If you thought row houses and apartments are modern architecture, you must visit Nahargarh.
4. Jalmahal was built in the middle of Man Sagar Lake around 1800 AD by Sawai Pratap Singh and later modified and restored by Sawai Jai Singh II. On the way back from Amber to Jaipur, stop by the lake for a photo stop. The palace is now renovated and transformed into a luxury boutique hotel and is out of bounds for ordinary tourists. The palace appears like a glittering jewel in the evening.
5. Gaitore – Where the royals have been laid to rest. The Chattris or the cenotaphs of the entire Jaipur Royal clan is housed in a compound in Gaitore and is a quiet place away from the hustle and bustle of Jaipur. The marble one with arched domes and 20 intricately carved pillars is dedicated to Sawai Jai Singh II. Stop by on the way back from Amer Forts to Jaipur for about 15-30 minutes and you will surely get the essense of the place
2pm to 6pm within Pink City area in Jaipur
6. Jaipur City Palace is in the heart of the city and while some parts are open to public, the royal family continue to reside in the Chandra Mahal. It is a sprawling compound with different museums showcasing clothing, jewelry, armoury, buggies, gathering halls, handicraft centres etc. The gates in the inner courtyard dedicated to the different seasons and a religious deity have ornate motifs specially the one with the peacock. Opt for a audio guide if you want to move around in your own pace. Photography is not allowed in most parts so let your eyes feast and the heart feel the grandeur for posterity.
7. Jantar Mantar – which unveils everything about the sky above us. Located next to the Jaipur City Palace, this observatory built by Sawai Jai Singh II in his quest for astronomy has about 14 Jantar’s (Equipment) performing Mantar (Calculation) to tell us the time, date, eclipse, movement of the planets etc. The tall Samrat Yantra 27 feet high and angled at 27degrees to match the latitude of Jaipur is actually a Sun Dial that predicts the time of the day pretty accurately. Take a Audio Guide and go around at your own pace and if you are not a great astronomy buff, you can complete it in 1-1.5 hours
8. Hawa Mahal – The Palace of Winds is a bright pink façade complete with numerous (953) latticed windows was originally built for the Royal Ladies to observe street processions and festivities. It is a five storied structure and you need to climb 5 storeys to experience the breeze in your hair. Located within walking distance from City Palace in the Pink City Premises with wonderful street food stalls around. The pictures of Hawa Mahal have been synonymous with Jaipur for years
If you are spiritually or religiously inclined stop by at the Govindji Temple within Pink City for the evening arati.
6pm onwards …
9. Shopping: If you are looking for knick knacks and traditional Jaipur handicrafts and block printed stuff, tye and dye Bandhni, bangles and jewelry then hunt around the various lanes in Pink City Market. Check for the quality and also bargain hard. There are some workshops and outlets on Amer Road which are specialized in Block Printing and Tye and Dye. Some of them will gladly show the art of block printing if possible visit one such place. The high end boutiques in the malls and up market areas of Jaipur have some wonderful pieces of traditional and fusion clothing which of course come for a price.
10. Ethnic Taste – If you are a non vegetarian, you cannot leave Jaipur without relishing the famed Lal Maas or fiery lamb. Niro’s, Handi etc on MI Road are the most recommended joints for the taste of the royals. LMB or Lakshmi Mishtan Bhandar in Pink City is an institution by itself to taste the piyaz kachori, mawa kachori or rabri !! During the day take a sip of that creamy lassi off the street corner and you will struggle to keep awake.
- Stay close to MI Road or Pink City for easier sightseeing. Some budget hotels are available in Bani Park near the station which are not too far away.
- Hire a Auto for the day trip in Jaipur @ Rs 800/- or opt for a taxi. I found the autos to be more flexible and they also climb up to Jaigarh and Nahargarh. You might have to walk up in Amber Fort but that is not so difficult a climb
- Buy a composite ticket for all sights in Jaipur to avoid long queues in all sites. Start early and try to reach in Amber by 8am in the morning. The elephant ride is unnecessarily expensive and long queues so drive up if you want to avoid that. It will take about 2 hours to do it at regular pace. Hire a audio guide for Rs 150/- if you are alone and don’t want to hire a guide.
- Jaigarh will take about 1 hour and Nahargarh another 1/2 hour.
- Photostop at Jal Mahal and then another 30minutes in Gaitore before you head back to Pink City.
- Quick snacky bite of kachori/ samosa/ chat and head to city palace followed by Jantar Mantar and Hawa Mahal
- Stop by at the Govindji Temple for evening arati. Temple is located right behind Chandra Mahal but you will need to take a detour to reach the entrance gate.
- If you have time on hand Royal Albert Museum, Galta Monkey Temple etc
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