The third corner of the golden triangle and the best place to find the calm in the Indian storm, Jaipur is most definitely a must for those touring Northern India. When visiting Delhi and Agra it just makes sense to complete the golden triangle – and here’s why.
Guest post by Tabitha
When in India, you will find that you are always very much on the move. The hustle and bustle of the country is like no other; yet it takes three times the usual time to do menial tasks like picking up a train ticket. And that is why people love it – it is truly unique and once emerged in the way of life it is a hard place not to love. But sometimes, you just want to have a moment of peace and step away from the hundreds of tourists and staring eyes of the locals. That solace can be found in Jaipur.
Now, it can’t be said that it’s chilled… but for India, it is! There is so much that makes Jaipur distinctive, from its architecture to its fabrics to the amazingly painted elephants you will see wandering down the main roads.
What’s the best time to visit Jaipur?
Summer in Jaipur is from March to July and temperatures reach up to 45 degrees Celsius. This is not preferable for the activities that you may wish to do there, unless you have a high toleration for heat!
From July to November lasts the monsoon season, and in India as a whole it rains… a lot. However, Rajasthan is affected a lot less by the monsoon season, so from the end of September to October you can avoid the rain entirely, though it is a risk to take. Therefore, travelling in these months is best avoided if you can.
The most popular time to go is winter, from November to February. The weather is warm, dry and sunny, but the nights can be cool, so be warned! Good weather does mean a lot more tourists, so queues for popular attractions could be a lot bigger, but the atmosphere of the city as a whole is nice because everyone can get out and be unaffected by poor weather.
Furthermore, if you go in March, you can see Jaipur’s famous Elephant festival, where painted elephants roam the streets and sports such as elephant polo take place! This occurs the day before Holi in March. Jaipur also has a kite festival on the 14th of January, which is the first day the sun is in the northern hemisphere. It is a true spectacle as the kites have glass shards which catch the light when in the sky… one to maybe watch from afar!
What’s good to know about Jaipur?
Jaipur is known as the pink city, and upon arrival you will not be disappointed by your expectations. It is in fact very pink. In fact, the colour is so entrenched in the history of the country that it is enforced in local laws!
One of the finest examples of the pink colour in Jaipur is the Hawa Mahal Jaipur, also known as the Palace of the Winds. It was built to resemble the honeycomb structure of a bee’s nest and got its name from the ‘cooling system’ design of the windows, which were designed to allow the breeze to blow through. However, windows were in fact installed into the palace during a renovation, meaning its name has lost all meaning. The palace acts as a prime example of Jaipur’s amazing architecture. It appears to be a great palace, but in fact it is all a façade. The structure is almost 2 dimensional and was built as a high screen so that women of the city palace could observe street festivals from inside and remain unnoticed from the outside.
One Day in Jaipur Itinerary
Follow this guide and make the most of your trip even if you’re short on time. These are the top sights and things to do during your one day in Jaipur.
Start your day early, you have a fun day of activities ahead!
The Monkey Temple
A good place to begin is Galtaji, aka the Monkey Temple. If you are travelling round India, it’s likely you will have seen a lot of temples and maybe be a bit hesitant because of that, but this one is like no other. Situated literally in a rock face, about 10km out of the city centre, is an ancient pilgrimage site. If you get a tuk tuk from the city centre, it should cost no more than 400 rupees for them to drive you to the site, wait for you to visit and then drive you back. In total, it’s around a half hour drive each way, but it’s definitely worth it!
Upon arrival, you will be dropped on the outskirts of a town facing a big hill. You may think you have been tricked by the driver, but look for people selling monkey food, and the monkeys themselves, and you’ll know you’re in the right place!
You walk up the hill and reach a point where you can continue to the top or go ahead through a little village. The top will take you to a tiny temple with a 10 rupee entry fee. It’s not much to see, but the view from there is worth the extra 10 minute walk. Carrying on through the village takes you down the other side of the hill. It’s a bit of a walk but you will reach a more built up area, then suddenly, out of nowhere, you turn around and behind you is a massive temple area, with pools filled with monkeys cleaning themselves and another one filled with people worshiping and praying. It is a true spectacle that is well worth the visit! A little tip though, people will try charge you for taking pictures. You can either tell them to go away, get over your reluctance and pay the small fee for a quiet life, or just not take pictures, but do not miss out on the memory of this place!
The Palace of the Winds
Upon arrival back to the city, take a wander past the Palace of the Winds mentioned above. You can go in, but when you only have one day it’s more of a photo opportunity. After all, it’s flat, there’s really not much to see! Local shop owners from across the road will encourage you to go onto their roofs to get a better view. In actual fact, the view from there is amazing, you can see right over the city as well as the surrounding forts, and all they ask in exchange is that you take a look in their shop. Obviously, as this is India, as usual watch your back and don’t be naïve to the fact that they will expect you to buy a little souvenir as thanks, but it’s well worth it!
Head for lunch via Johari Bazar (you can walk there from the Palace of the Winds). Here is a fab place to buy souvenirs; the street specializes in jewelry, clothing, craft-work and art. It’s a bustling, busy area and there are plenty of places to get yourself a good deal! For lunch, restaurants are hard to come by, but there is a fab place called Jain Patang Udyog on the Haldion Ka Rasta street just off the main street. It serves Dal ki kachori with chatni, a local delicacy.
After lunch head to the Jantar Mantar. This is a collection of astrological instruments all built to tell the time, from seconds to months to the year. The location is a UNESCO site and features the world’s largest sundial. The instruments are all still in working order, and it is fascinating to learn how the concept of time was developed. You can get a tour on the door from a registered tour guide, costing from 50-100 rupees per person depending on group size. It is definitely worth paying for a guide here as otherwise you will not gain insight into how the instruments actually work, although they are amazing just to look at, as well!
The Jantar Mantar is situated next to the City Palace. Entry into the palace is quite expensive, however if you don’t want to go in you can have a quick look! It is also all within a walking distance from the Palace of the Winds and Johari Bazar.
It’s best to hire a driver to Amer Fort, although you can get a tuk tuk here too! If you get a driver, they will be able to organize a tour guide for you, who you pay in tips. Alternatively, you can get an elephant ride up to the fort.
However, these run in the mornings only, so you would have to rearrange the day. Amer Fort is the one place where it would be recommended more than anywhere to get a tour guide! The fort itself is amazing to look at and the view from it is amazing, too. But the architectural genius of this place is like no other, and to learn about this you need a tour guide!
From the design of the palace with hidden corridors so that the king’s 9 wives never had to cross paths; to the different bedrooms for summer and winter depending on the light; to the water pipe system that saved water for drought and is still in working condition today! There are so many wonderful photo opportunities and there is so much to see and learn, Amer Fort is a must see in Jaipur!
Amer Fort Light Show
End the day under Amer Fort watching the spectacular light and sound show which tells the story of Jaipur. Tickets are 200 rupees, and the show lasts around 45 minutes.
Where to stay in Jaipur?
Umaid Mahal – Heritage Style Hotel
Book your stay in the Umaid Mahal – Heritage Style Hotel or one of its counterparts (it is part of a small chain). It is a fab, authentic hotel with great breakfast, a small pool that is nice for a quick dip in the morning and is very reasonably priced. The best thing about the hotel is its décor. The outside is one big mosaic, and the inside is furnished with traditional furniture in a true Jaipur style. It also has a rooftop restaurant which had the best chicken tikka pizza going.
Jaipur is a great destination for backpackers and young travelers, and hostels around the city are surely the best place to stay if you want quality budget stay. It’s a great place to meet other travelers and explore the local culture. These three hostels may be the best in the city, so check one of them: Blue Beds Hostel, Jaipur Jantar Hostel, Zostel Jaipur.
DAY TRIPS FROM JAIPUR
India is a country of immense cultural wealth, and no matter where you turn you will see something incredible. However, some sights deserve your attention more than others, so take them into consideration when planning your day trip from Jaipur.
If you have the time and energy, Agra as a destination is a no-brainer. Yes, it will take you more than three hours to get there, but the payoff is huge. The city is home to two fabled UNESCO World Heritage Sites – Agra Fort and the majestic Taj Mahal. The sensation you get when you first see these monumental buildings cannot be described, and you will immediately forget about the ride here.
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For animal-lovers, Ranthambore is something they absolutely must visit. This beautiful national park is a great getaway from the city crowds, and since you get a chance to see tigers and leopards in their natural habitat, the idea of this day trip becomes even more enticing. Head out on a safari and enjoy a day you will never forget.
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Ajmer is a city about two hours from Jaipur, and it has loads of sights to visit. From the incredible Lal Mandir with its golden interior to Ajmer Sharif Dargah, a shrine dedicated to a revered saint, you will have more than enough to see and explore. Just don’t forget to leave some time to go and visit Pushkar, a small town on Ajmer’s outskirts, where a sacred lake is located.
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Hands down, Chand Baori is the most beautiful stepwell in India. Numerous steps were created on its three sides, with an impressive pavilion on the fourth. Seeing this is like entering a fantasy movie or something like that, and if you want some photos that will make everyone back home jealous, this is the place to take them. After that, don’t forget to visit Bhangarh, a fort that is supposedly cursed and haunted by restless spirits.
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Sanganer is the perfect place to do some souvenir shopping. It is very close to Jaipur and is completely dedicated to producing its unique fabrics which you can actually have printed out right there and then. It is also an important town for Jains, who have their temples scattered all over the place. Shopping and a bit of culture, doesn’t sound bad, now does it?
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Extra tips for visiting Jaipur?
– Accept the fact that in Jaipur you are going to be paying foreigner admission prices which will cost a great deal more than for locals. Despite this, prices are all very reasonable!
– If you do have any extra time, hire a car and go watch the sunset from Nahargarh Fort, which is a short drive from Amer Fort. The view covers the whole city and the palace up there is worth a visit too.