Jaipur: the pink city
This was our first destination in Rajasthan and one of the most famous places to visit in India.
The Rajasthani state capital and the last point of the Golden Triangle, Jaipur is famous for its handicrafts and gems. The heart of Jaipur is the Pink City inside the old walls which are actually more like terracotta in colour. At times if felt like a huge place, we had to take a tuktuk to visit most sites and restaurants. We needn’t have stayed any longer than three nights. A week after we visited I picked up a book called A Princess Remembers which is written by the wife of the Maharaja of Jaipur. It’s such an incredible book giving you the history of a once rich capital. Definitely try to read this before you visit.
Accommodation – Pearl Palace
For 1200 rupees a night I booked Pearl Palace on recommendation from the Rough Guide. The room was on the ground floor, with a large ornate bed and a spare mattress on the floor. It looked like luxury after our four day trek in the Himalayas. You could only use the wifi on the top floor of the hotel which was quite annoying. We literally had to pull our aching bodies up there. The rooftop restaurant was nice and we ate breakfast there every morning. I had to pay 20 rupees to use the computer for 30 minutes though on our last day they weren’t working. I booked our room online here. You can stay in a dorm room for cheaper but considering there was three of us we just split the cost of a semi-deluxe room.
What to visit
The fort is one of the most famous landmarks of Jaipur built by Jai Singh II in 1734. Our tuktuk driver Babu dropped us off at the bottom and we walked up up up (we still felt the trek pain in our legs). We met a snake charmer on the way who played a tune to the cobra popping out of the basket in a complete trance staring at us. We were told Carlos the cobra has had his teeth removed. It’s quite a long walk around, we visited the palace apartments and had cold drinks in a cafe to escape the intense heat of the day.
Another Jaipur landmark the Palace of the Winds is at the east end of the City Palace. It was built so women in purdah could watch the street processions below. We visited City Palace first and then walked around to see the facade, I wish we’d paid for the audio tour as we would have found out a lot more about the history. Look beyond the congested road at the front and just imagine the women peeking through the tiny windows.
Enclosed in tall standing walls is the observatory built between 1728 and 1734. The ruler Jai Singh constructed astronomical measuring instruments, having also built some in Delhi. It’s incredibly clean inside with neatly cut grass. You have to read the information guides by each sculpture otherwise it will just look like a oddly shaped carving. My favourite was the stairs leading up to the sky.
*We bought a pass which allowed us to visit Jantar Mantar and Hawa Mahal from the official ticket office near both sites.
Raj Mandir Cinema
After visiting the cinema in Delhi we thought we’d pay another visit. I read about the beautiful art deco lobby inside so we queued up only to discover there were no subtitles. Babu took us to another cinema however they too had no subtitles. In hindsight I think it’s quite rare for English subtitles to be shown. When we went to the cinema in Mumbai we discussed during the interval what we thought was going on, it’s quite a funny experience.
How to get there
Jaipur is an easily reachable city at the top of Rajasthan. We arrived by train from Delhi taking around 6-7 hours. You can also arrive by bus from other cities though this can take longer. Flights into Jaipur land at Sanganer airport 15km south with Spice Jet, Air India, IndiGo, Go Air, Jet Airways and JetKonnect. After Jaipur we had trains booked to Ajmer (Pushkar) however after meeting Vijay the elephant keeper he drove us in his WWII jeep. I’ll save that story for another blog post…
See Fran dancing her way down the Nehargarh Fort