For all those looking to visit a city with a rich history, perfectly blended with all modern amenities, then Jaipur is the perfect option. The capital city of Rajasthan has a lot to offer in terms of beautiful palaces, excellent cuisine along with being a shopper’s haven. A survey of Traveler’s Readers Choice conducted in 2008 ranked Jaipur as the seventh best place to visit in Asia.
Also known as the’ Pink City’, Jaipur is located in the semi-desert lands of Rajasthan. It was built by Sawai Raja Jai Singh II in the year 1727. The architectural pattern of the city was designed by Vidyadhar Chatterjee on the principles of ‘Vastu Shastra’ and ‘Silpa Shastra’. The city was painted pink by Sawai Ram Singh for the visit of the Prince of Wales.
Best Time to Visit
The best season to plan a trip to Jaipur is during winter as the summer heat would be absolutely unbearable for most people. Average temperatures in the winter months range between 15-18 degrees centigrade with little or no humidity. For a trip to Jaipur in winters one should be armed with sufficient warm clothes to beat the occasional cold waves.
Places to See
The city has a host of palaces that take one back to the grandeur of the Rajput period of Indian history. Located absolutely at the heart of the market area of the city is the Hawa Mahal, a semi-octagonal structure with 152 windows. This palace was built for the royal ladies to watch the processions during wars. The intricate architectural work is absolutely mesmerizing. The City Palace, which is a blend of Rajput and Mughal architecture is another must-see in this historical city. There is a seven storied Chandra Mahal inside the palace along with the Diwan-E-Khas (collection of costumes and textiles) and Diwan-E-Am (collection of manuscripts). Located in the outskirts of the city in the middle of Man Sagar Lake is another wonder called Jal Mahal.
Apart from the palaces, one must also make a trip to the Jantar-Mantar, built in the 18th century by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II. The attractions at the Jantar Mantar include the Sun Dial and a collection of instruments for the study of constellations and stars. For book lovers Jantar Mantar has a store where one can find a decent collection of books, which include fiction as well as books on the history of Rajasthan along with books and postcards on Rajasthani art. Moreover, if one is looking for souveneirs to take back home for one’s friends and family members then one can find a lot of options here.
Albert Hall- the museum is a treat for the lovers of art history. It has a huge collection of musical instruments, carriages, jewelry, paintings and artifacts of the Rajput period. Apart from this, the walls are engraved with works depicting instances from Indian as well as western myths.
It is not just the main city of Jaipur, which is the treasure of Indian history, but even the outskirts of the city holds two major attractions namely the Nahargarh Fort and the Jaigarh Fort. The Nahargarh Fort is located atop a hill of about 600 ft surrounded by walls. The place symbolizes the bravery of the Rajputs as they attempted to resist Mughal invasions. The Nahargarh Fort also has an eating outlet from where you can get a wonderful view and can also spot the Jal Mahal located far away.
The Laxmi-Narayan temple popularly known as the Birla Temple is not just meant for the religious minded but even for connoisseurs of art.
All the palaces and forts of Jaipur are open from morning 9:00am to evening 5:00pm and entry is through tickets of minimal amount. However, in order to avoid standing in queues for the tokens at every site one can buy the combined tickets, which cover almost all the major palaces and forts together at the Albert Hall.
Cuisine and Culture
The most appetizing Rajasthani food includes Dal Baati Churma, Missi Roti and sweet dishes like Gheval, Feeni, Mung thal and Gajak Chaugni ke Ladu. For those willing to spend more, a visit to Chowki-Dhani is a good idea. This place offers the perfect integration of Rajasthani food and culture at Rs.800 for each person. However, those who have a budget strain need not despair as there are a lot of local restaurants, which offer Rajasthani food at a reasonable price.
In winters one can expect a lot of cultural shows in Rajasthan. The central attraction in the month of January is the Jaipur Literary Fest, which brings together authors from all parts of India and abroad. This festival last year had Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk along with Kiran Desai winner of the Booker Prize. There are rumours that this year the famous magic realist writer Ben Okri will be a part of this prestigious event.
Apart from the malls the local market can offer a rich collection of embroidered shawls, shoes, art works, paintings, bandhni dupattas, Jodhpuri sandals, Jaipuri blankets and lots more. Good bargaining skill is often a pre-requisite in these markets as the products are often over-priced.
How to Reach and where to stay?
Being the capital city of Rajasthan, Jaipur is well connected to all the major cities of India by railways as well as through flights. The Jaipur International Airport offers flights to Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmadabad, Bangalore, Kolkata and Guwahati. Within the city one can avail of cab services to travel to the various sites. Otherwise, autorickshaws are also available in plenty.
Accommodation options are abundant including five star hotels like the Taj. There are several heritage hotels, which also occasionally organize cultural dance and music shows. The price in the heritage hotels in the peak season is likely to be around Rs. 4000 to Rs. 5000 per night. There are also a lot of medium budget hotels where one can find accommodation for Rs.2000- Rs.3000.
A trip to Jaipur for around three to four days can be an extremely enjoyable one in this season. This is the time when tourists from India and abroad will flock to the city so it is advisable to do pre-bookings for accommodation in order to avoid paying exorbitant rates.