Dubbed as the pink city, Jaipur is steeped in history with its brilliantly designed buildings standing tall through time, open air markets, rich cuisine; every aspect exudes a deep cultural resonance.
Jaipur is popular on every traveller’s map and it rightly should be. A gateway to Rajasthan and its many treasures, the city is an amalgamation of urban bustle, vibrant people and stunning cityscapes. However, even in this chaos lies a sense of elegance and rhythm, making a trip to the city quite eventful.
Lost in Time
The princely state is known for its magnificent forts, and Amber Fort is one of the most popular tourist attractions. Perched on a hill almost 11 km away from the city, this fort was built in the 16th century and constructed in red sandstone and marble. The fort is massive with extravagant durbar halls and courtyards that were once filled with palace officials and royalty. One of the prettiest parts of the palace is the Sheesh mahal or the glass palace. Every inch of the palace from wall to ceiling is ornate and decorated in glass pieces.
Not far from this grandeur, on the Hill of Eagles or Cheel ka Teela of the Aravalli range, is a fort built in 1726 to protect Amber Fort. Named after king Jai Singh II, Jaigadh Fort is another marvelous piece of architecture that stands proud and a clear 400 m above Amber Fort. The rugged and highly fortified fort has tall thick walls built from red sandstone, signature to the region. Though it may be less popular than its neighbour, come here to witness the spectacular panoramic view of the Maota Lake and Amber Fort below, while coming face to face with the world’s largest cannon on wheels, Jaivana.
In the heart of the city is the iconic Hawa Mahal, replete with its famed blush-coloured, honey combed facade that may seem a tad overwhelming at first. The five-storey palace at Badi Choupad (a big square) is in the midst of a market, surrounded by bustling streets, shops and numerous tourists. The palace was built in such a way that its high walls have many small windows or jharokhas with intricate lattice work. The women of the palace used these windows to look out onto the streets and watch the humdrum of daily life.
The palace has 953 windows and they act as a natural ventilator and cooling system, even in the height of summer. The last two storeys are only accessible by ramps and are not open to public.
A Royal Feast
No trip to the city is complete without feasting on an elaborate Rajasthani meal. There are plenty of restaurants that offer a lavish local and incredibly authentic meal. Some even offer an ambience akin to a typical Rajasthani village and fair, complete with thatched roof huts, bangle and jewellery sellers, camel and elephant rides and a host of colourful shops.
The real gem here is their grand Marwari thali. Customers are served in a manner similar to the locals, and you will eventually have to fend off your server as they are extremely generous with their portions. This is ideal if you want to sample food from the region as the thali includes hot favourites like bajre ki roti, dal bhati churma, pyaz kachori, and a host of other dishes. If you visit around the festival of Holi, you can even try the incredible sweet treat – Malpuas.
While a Marwari meal can be a snooze inducing affair, if you’re looking for a light snack then perhaps a locally made beverage is what you need. On Mirza Ismail (MI) road, head to the Lassiwala that has been selling lassi since 1944 and has inspired many imitations clearly visible all over the city. The creamy lassi is served in earthen clay pots and it is such a rage that by 4 pm, the shop is often sold out.
Time to Splurge
Jaipur is a treasure trove for trinkets, silver jewellery, and brightly-coloured bandhani (tie-n-dye) fabrics with intricate work. It is what you call a shopper’s paradise and a visit to this city must include a trip to the local markets.
While MI road is considered trendy and a great tourist attraction, the real heart of shopping lies in markets such as Johari Bazaar and Bapu Bazaar. Take an auto rickshaw ride to one of these markets and spend the day exploring as various streets entwine. Take a leisurely stroll, gawking at the many fancy jewellery and gem shops, vibrant apparels, household items, etc.
You will never know what you may come across in Jaipur, but one thing is certain – it’s worth the treasure hunt.
The airline offers direct flights to Jaipur from Mumbai, and convenient connections from Kochi, Bengaluru and Goa.
Written by Roxanne Bamboat