Updated: Oct 5
Jaipur is India’s Pink City. It is also the largest city in the Indian state of Rajasthan. However, it is much more than this. Jaipur is a cultural hotspot, a diverse and exciting city and a must visit for travel lovers looking to explore India. Jaipur was the third destination on my trip to India in October 2018 and it was definitely one of my highlights. Tourism is popular in Jaipur due to its involvement in the Golden Triangle tourist network. The network consists of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur and the route is very popular not only amongst tourists but also amongst Indian citizens looking to travel and explore their own country. The route is also very accessible with plenty of transport options to take you to each destination within the Golden Triangle. I took a train from Agra to Jaipur but there are also plenty of buses that run between the two.
VISIT AMBER FORT
I arrived in Jaipur from Agra after spending a day visiting the world famous Taj Mahal. Jaipur instantly struck me as a welcoming and adventurous place. I was intrigued to see what Jaipur had to offer and as soon as I planned an itinerary for my time there, I was overcome with excitement. My first stop was Amber Fort which is one of the main tourist attractions in Jaipur. As the Fort is located eleven kilometres outside of Jaipur, I took a tuktuk to get there. Taking a tuktuk is the cheapest mode of transport in India so the trip to the Fort cost nothing more than 200 IDR (approximately £2). The Fort itself is located on a hilltop so it took me approximately twenty minutes to walk up to the Fort. This was somewhat challenging in the sweltering hot Indian heat but it was more than worth it for the views at the top. Amber Fort is most well-known for its architectural and artistic style. It was constructed with red sandstone and marble which gives it the unique appearance and individuality in comparison to other Forts. The Fort is so big that I’d recommend spending at least a couple of hours walking around and taking it all in. Don’t forget to bring plenty of water though as walking around the Fort in the heat made me feel very tired and dehydrated. I only brought one bottle of water which was far from sufficient – don’t make the same mistake as me!
There is a warning too when visiting the Amber Fort. Elephant rides have become a popular mode of transport for reaching the Fort. Many people approach you at the start of the walk with offers of an elephant ride to the top – this is not safe and the elephants are being exploited for tourism use. Approximately one hundred captive elephants carry tourists up to Amber Fort which is a kilometre-long journey. The climb is steep and the terrain is uneasy which, combined with the weight of tourists, makes the journey unsafe and unethical. This has led to many of the elephants becoming injured and suffering from problems such as blindness and malnourishment. You can’t have a full experience in Jaipur without visiting Amber Fort but we must protect these elephants so it is important not to support and fund these elephant rides.
HOT AIR-BALLOON RIDE
My standout highlight in Jaipur was a sunrise hot-air balloon ride. As soon as I discovered the opportunity to go on a sunrise hot-air balloon ride in Jaipur, I booked it without any hesitation. It gave me the opportunity to see the outskirts of Jaipur from a unique perspective that I could only ever experience from the air. I witnessed India’s true beauty in a different light that I feel very lucky to have been able to see. The ride was so peaceful and relaxing with the only sounds heard being the birds whistling as the sun rose over Jaipur. Down below us were local villages and several families came out of their houses below us to greet us and wave at us with great excitement. The interaction with the local people made the experience even more special and I’d highly recommend taking advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity and the chance to tick something off your bucket list. The company I went with was Sky Waltz Balloon Safari and it cost approximately £150 per person.
VISIT CITY PALACE
Another popular attraction in Jaipur is the City Palace. The City Palace was in fact established at the same time as Jaipur itself and previously held religious and cultural events before its current status as the home of Jaipur’s royal family. The palace itself has several buildings, courtyards, galleries and restaurants which can all be explored within a couple of hours. Similar to Amber Fort, the City Palace is a well-known tourist attraction in Jaipur with its cultural and historical significance and beautiful surroundings. Jaipur is a city full of charm and elegance and the City Palace represents all these qualities. The architecture of the City Palace is also an attraction in itself with a mix of Rajput and Mughal architecture. The entry fee is INR 500 for foreign tourists (approximately £5) with an extra charge for a photography fee (INR 50), videography fee (INR 150) and Audio Guides (INR 200). I’d highly recommend getting an audio guide if you are particularly interested in learning more about the history of Jaipur and the City Palace.
TRY THE LOCAL STREET FOOD
You can’t visit Jaipur without trying some local street food – it’s an unwritten rule! There are many street food walking tours available in which local tour guides take you to some of Jaipur’s street food hotspots. The tour also allows you to learn more about how the street food is made and the origins of some of the most popular dishes. Jaipur’s street food is authentic and most importantly very tasty! Some of the most popular dishes include keema baati and dal-baati-churma. Food, and in particular street food, forms a significant part of life in Jaipur and its identity around India and to the world. It is important to find some of Jaipur’s best street food hotspots when exploring the city and some of the most popular include: Rawat Mishthan Bhandar, Gulab Ji Chaiwala, Masala Chowk and Sethi Bar-Be-Que. One of my favourite parts of the walking tour was trying mango lassi. Mango lassi is a popular Indian yoghurt drink which is very refreshing and as result of trying it on the walking tour, it became my favourite thing to drink throughout the rest of my time in India.
VISIT HAWA MAHAL
My fifth and final recommendation for what to see and do in Jaipur is a visit to Hawa Mahal. Hawa Mahal is another of Jaipur’s elegant and grand palaces and is made out of red and pink sandstone to create the unique architectural lattice structure. It was built back in 1799 by the grandson of the founder of Jaipur and is now one of Jaipur’s most distinctive landmarks. Its initial purpose was to enable the ladies of the royal household to watch processions and life in Jaipur without being seen. Nowadays it is a tourism hotspot and is also popular amongst locals too. The view from the top is very special, in one direction you can see the City Palace and in the other direction you can see Sireh Deori Bazaar which is one of Jaipur’s main bazaar’s. I’d highly recommend visiting during the sunset as the views from the top of Hawa Mahal of Jaipur are beautiful throughout the day but even more special as the sun goes down. The visiting hours are 9:00-17:00 and the entrance fee is INR 200 for foreign tourists which is approximately £2.
If you’re considering visiting Jaipur, I’d highly recommend you book the flights now, what are you waiting for?! This city has everything to offer, elegant palaces, authentic street food and grand forts. Jaipur is a must visit there is no doubt about it. I look back on my time in India with a huge smile and some fantastic memories and my experience in Jaipur contributes to that greatly. India’s transport routes are extensive and generally very reliable which means you really have no excuse to visit Jaipur. There are many hotels, from luxurious to basic, from expensive to cheap, there is a place to stay that will be welcoming. Jaipur’s people are some of the friendliest I’ve ever met, truly they are. They are a credit to their city. They have helped to put Jaipur firmly on the tourism map and have shaped a city that now welcomes almost one million tourists every year. I think the number of tourists to Jaipur will continue to grow and there is no doubt that they will reap the rewards of the growing numbers of foreign visitors. If I get the opportunity to visit India again, I would love to visit Jaipur once more as there is so much to see and do. So, what are you waiting for? Jaipur is waiting for you.