Dressed almost completely in pink, the royal city of Rajasthan, Jaipur is an interesting blend of history, myths, palaces, art and forts (of course!). With its sister cities of Agra and Delhi, it forms the world-famous “Golden Triangle”, one of the most travelled route in India and a small part of my itinerary here too.
In Jaipur, more than anywhere else in Rajasthan, you will notice the interesting “clash” of a heritage city and a fast-moving metropolis. In fact, inside the walls, the faded pink will tell you stories of Marajahs and rulers of another past, but just outside a world of technology, young students and western fashion will take you back to this century.
Here is your City Guide, with everything you need to know about Jaipur. As always, covering the five most important elements for a great weekend away:
COFFEE | READ | EXPLORE | EAT |DREAM
BUT FIRST, COFFEE
No day or exploration should ever start without a good cup of coffee, right? So here you can get your daily dose..
Art Gallery Café
Perfect hangout place for tourists and expats. Decent coffee and a varied menu of local and international nibbles.
Address: 132 – 133 , Chaandi Ki Taksaal, Hawa Mahal Road | Shankars Art Gallery, Jaipur 302001, India
One of the most important coffee establishment in Jaipur or maybe in the whole India (?) as it opened back in… Well, no one really knows when this place was first opened as you can read here, but despite its age, it still attracts lots of locals who come here for a great coffee, very good dosa and an afternoon long chat for hours with friends.
Address: Cooperative Society Building, Opposite Khadi Bhandar, Mirza Ismail Road | Jaipur 302001, India
In Jaipur, there is an excellent Book Club that you should join if you have time during your stay, it’s called Jaipur Book Lovers and its founder, Ayush, uses a meetup page to announce new events and meetings twice a month on first and third Sundays of the month. You can also keep up with the group on Facebook.
Books about Jaipur
- Building Jaipur: The Making of an Indian City, Sachdev, Vibhuti; Tillotson, Giles Henry Rupert (2002). Reaktion Books, London
- A History of Jaipur, Jadunath Sarkar (1984), Orient Longman Limited, New Delhi.
- Rajasthan Style—written by Laure Vernière and photographed by Anne Garde (out on 10th November 2015)
Libraries and Bookshops
Please let me know below your suggestions as I couldn’t find any decent library or great bookshop to be mentioned here.
When exploring Rajasthan, you will quickly realise that at least one fort is present in each and every city you will stop by. I’ve seen most of this state now and most of its forts too, that’s why, I will try and make your job a little easier, by pointing out here (and in the future guides), only the forts I think are very special and I believe you should visit too.
In Jaipur, for example you should spend some time both at Amber Fort and at Nahargarh Fort, you will understand why looking at the pictures below.
This is probably my favourite fort in all Rajasthan and I hope the pictures will show you why. From here, you will also have a great view over the city of Jaipur, with its symmetrical and very organised street systems. Watch out for the monkeys! 🙂
This other fort which once was the residence of the King Sawai Jai Singh II, sits on the hill in the northwest corner of the old city. A tour here, especially before sunset is almost mandatory!
City Palace, Jal Mahal, Jantar Mantar and Hawa Mahal
The Streets and Bapu Market
You will realise that in India everything happens on the streets, there is more life on the streets than anywhere else and, despite the heat, you are going to spend loads of time on them, especially in Jaipur, so bring on your camera!
Award-winning restaurant on the rooftop of the Hotel Pearl Palace.
Address: 51 Hathroi Fort, Hari Kishan Somani Marg, Ajmer Road
A great venue for a dinner alfresco and a few cocktails.
Address: Near Moti Mahal Cinema, Bani Park, Jaipur 302016, India
If you, like me, love boutique hotels and their heritage, there is one beautiful property you should pick among all. If you also enjoy great food and outstanding service, then the place for you in Jaipur is definitely the Pearl Palace Heritage or its sister location Hotel Pearl Palace.
Founded by Mr. Satinder Singh about eighteen years ago, it encompass nine rooms (will be 16 next year) and it has been voted the most romantic hotel in all of India. The idea behind this little gem was to allow visitors to discover India under one roof, as all rooms are themed with one city or region of India and local artists where hired and brought to Jaipur to decorate the walls of each of the nine rooms.
Every single detail in the properties has been custom-made, you will notice that every wall is hand-carved and most of the decorations are hand-made. Karan Singh, Mr Singh’s son and Hotel Manager, told me over dinner that “hand-crafting a hotel in many heritage styles take a very long time. For example, our second floor passageways took a family of artisans over a year to carve by hand!”
Maybe this is why, this fabulous hotel was hand-picked by Oscar-winning director John Madden as the main set for his “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” movie starring American actor Richard Gere, British Dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith and local super-star Dev Patel?
Well, I think so!
This great property offers an excellent and very informative city-guide to all its guests and it’s also the first hotel in town to organise a city tour that includes most of the places you will find in the EXPLORE section below. Have a look here to see what else is included in the tour and all its details.
Extra Section for my fellow photographers
- The capital of Rajasthan offers unlimited opportunities for photography, but probably you, like me, will be mainly attracted by the people and their colourful dresses, so have a go at street photography here, it’s impossible to get it wrong! Street photography is fast and many shots are going to be blurry or not in focus: remember to free up some space on your memory card or camera roll on your phone. http://www.rajasthantourism.gov.in/destinations/jaipur/aboutjaipur.aspx
- Almost every palace or monument requires you to buy an additional ticket for your camera/videocamera/phone/ipad etc. If you wish to avoid time and confusion, just bring with you one preferred camera and leave at home or at your hotel the rest!
- Tripods, again are not allowed in most places, leave them at your hotel
Other useful links:
This is the second part of my CREED guide to India, check the first about Agra if you missed it.
Copyright © 2015 Sabrina Andrea Sachs. All rights reserved.