Jaipur, known as the “pink city”, is a land of vivid colour and a kind of glorious chaos. Guest blogger Tony Herbert visited the city with the roseate glow as part of his bespoke holiday touring around Rajasthan…
Jaipur Travel Guide
Jaipur- the Pink city and the mighty capital of Rajasthan- is one of the ten most beautiful cities of India. The mere mention of Jaipur transcends one to a world that is rich in culture and heritage. Jaipur today is a mega city that retains its medieval charm. Come here to experience the rich colors in the bustling markets, the world class hotels, sophisticated jewellery stores, huge standing forts and stunning palaces. Jaipur attracts everyone- be it art lovers, shopping freaks, film shoots, wildlife enthusiasts or the modern businessmen.
Where to stay: Samode Haveli
Our hotel in Jaipur was another former palace, the Samode Haveli, where a current Maharaja (not of Jaipur) lives with his dogs, which are walked around the garden by a functionary daily.
Life is in the detail: guided tours
Our guide around the city is Thakur Ummed Singh, a most aristocratic name (Thakur means Lord, or perhaps just Sir). Ummed is a relation of the Maharaja, and this is evident in the somewhat curious way that the other guides and functionaries at the palace greet him in a deferential kind of way. As a result, we get a modest amount of special treatment.
He is a charming man, and we feel in good company: we buy a picture book with a whole section devoted to pictures of his daughter’s wedding; and another with a picture of him having a chat to President Clinton. He is also, as one might expect a first class guide.
What to see: the City Palace
The City Palace in Jaipur is a museum that extends over many acres. We learn about the royal family of Jaipur, for in a part of the palace, the current Maharaja lives, although he is only 14 years old. The previous Maharaja, who only died last year, was known as “Bubbles”, so called by his nanny confronted by the champagne celebrations that followed his birth, as no male heir had been born in living memory. His predecessor, the last actual ruling Maharaja before they were all technically stripped of their titles, died as a result of a polo accident in Cirencester. His wife was the celebrated beauty Gayatri Devi of Cooch Behar, who died recently at an advanced age.
What to see: the Amber Fort
The other major sight at Jaipur (or rather, on a hill some miles outside Jaipur) is the Amber Fort; so-called one would assume because of its golden-amber colour, but we are told that it’s a corruption of a Hindi word for “high up”.
It’s impressive and, in one of the open courtyards, a group of beautifully painted elephants trundle around with tourists on their backs. Plainly, Ummed thought that such a thing was well beneath our dignity. I wasn’t so sure, but we dutifully followed his advice and admired them from the ground.
When to visit: October to March
Plan: After check in at your hotel and some rest, proceed to visit the city attractions i.e. City Palace, Jantar Mantar and Hawa Mahal. Next day you can plan Amber Fort, Jaigarh Fort, Jal Mahal along with a visit to City Museum and Birla Temple.
Do Explore: Sheesh Mahal in Amber Fort to realize the grandeur in which the royalty lived; watch a movie at Rajmandir Cinema to experience the Midas touch that makes the theatre more like a royal palace.
Evenings- Shop around at MI road or Johari Bazaar; witness the glorious Light and sound show at Amber Fort; give your taste buds the original flavour of Rajasthan at Chaukhi Dhani/ Kanchan Kesari.
Celebrations- The most notable celebrations are Gangnaur Festival (March/ April) and the Teej (August).
- You might like to experience one of the seven wonders of the world- the great Taj Mahal.
- You can head to Ranthambore, Bharatpur or Sariska if you are a wildlife enthusiast
- Make a day trip to Bhangarh- the most Haunted Site of India, where staying after 5 PM is not allowed. Enjoy the visit of Ruined forts and palace at Bhangarh and then proceed towards Abhaneri – famous for Chand Baori(one of the most finest geometrically designed step well of India) and Harshat Mata temple.
- Explore Ajmer and Pushkar to visit the Dargah (tomb) of the Sufi Saint Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chisti and Brahma Temple, known to be only temple of its kind across the Universe. Note that Pushkar Fair is mostly during Oct-Nov months.
- If you have more days in your vacation calendar, head to the deserts of Jaisalmer to experience the shimmering san dunes and brilliant turbans. The Arabian night’s fantasy comes alive HERE!