#Innsider’s guide to Jaipur
Known as the Pink City, Jaipur is the largest city and capital of the desert state of Rajasthan, and is so studded with ‘must sees’ it can be difficult to fit it all into one trip. From impressive forts, monuments to a floating palace, the spoils of the Mughal lords await! With so much to pack in, we’ve pulled together some #innsider tips to help you out. Intrigued? Read on for things to do in Jaipur…
The land of royals
Although the city is fast-paced, the city’s many palaces are a spot of calm in the middle of all the mayhem. In the city center, the City Palace is still home to the former royal family, but for more of a glimpse into its regal past, the Hawa Mahal is a must-visit. Literally translated to the Palace of Wind, it stands out for its many latticed windows. These windows with their tricky detailing, were meant to act as veils; or a ‘purdah’ for the royal women, as they were forbidden from venturing out into the streets.
#Innsiders know to fit in at least half a day to see the Amber Fort, with its courtyards, a beautiful garden and most impressively the Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors), which is covered in tiny mirrors. On the way to Amber, is the Jal Mahal (the Water Palace), a palace half-underwater in the middle of Man Sagar Lake.
The Jaigarh Fort is regarded as the big brother of the Amber Fort, and sits on top of the ‘Cheel ka Teela’ hills (the ‘Hill of Eagles’) to keep watch and protect it from enemies. There is a pedestrian pathway that leads up to the top; as you gain height, more and more of what was once a walled city begins to slowly reveal itself. It’s these aerial views of Amber that make the climb worth the sweat. Don’t miss the world’s biggest cannon on wheels, ‘Jaivana’ and head along the walls for some more scenic shots.
A shopper’s paradise
Jaipur is famous for its block printing, silks and cashmere. There are many traditional markets in Jaipur, but Badi Chaupar, Choti Chaupar, Johari Bazaar and Tripola Bazaar are among the best. Pick up gifts and supplies from a range of stalls, including sweets, pickles, vegetables, clothing and books. If its handmade crafts you’re after, head to Anoki, whereas Krispal Kumbh is the best place for pottery.
Jaipur allows visitors to sample a wide range of foodie treats. For those with a sweet-tooth, try Rawat Sweets, which is a traditional sweet institution in Jaipur. Like the locals, sample Mawa Kachoris; deep fried pancakes filled with condensed roasted sweetened milk, all dunked in a good helping of sugar syrup.
Dal Bati Churma (flaky round bread baked over firewood), Ker Sangri (desert berries and beans cooked with a variety of masalas) and Gatte ki Sabzi (gram flour dumplings dipped into a yoghurt-based curry) are all traditional foods of Rajasthan, summed up in one word – SPICY! For something a little milder, try some savoury snacks at Sri Ram Chat Bhander, a fifty year old store in one of the by lanes of old Jaipur.
The city’s most talked about sites are sure to wow you, but Jaipur has many other hidden treasures. Among them is the Shri Govind Ji temple within the city center and is a place of worship for the Lord Krishna that houses an image of the deity believed to be almost 5,000 years old. Check here for a list of opening times. Just beyond this temple is the Talkatora Gardens, which are a perfect place to sit and grab a moment of calm.
If you plan to visit the Amber Fort, you have the option of skipping out the usual tourist route in favor of a drive around the back of the fort. This will take you to the simple hamlet of Amber, which dates back to the 11th century. Here you will find the Shri Jagatshironmani Temple, which is well worth a visit.
A place to stay
Our Park Inn by Radisson Jaipur Jai Singh Highway hotel enjoys a city center location and is just minutes away from the Crystal Mall. It is also ideally located for a visit to Amber Fort, City Palace of Jaipur, Hawa Mahal and Nahargarh Fort. See http://www.parkinn.com/hotel-jaipurin
What are your favorite tips and tricks on seeing the best of Jaipur? Share your #innsider tips on Twitter @parkinn to help others when planning a visit!