Although full of constant chaos and overcrowding Jaipur, India, the City of Victory, never fails to attract hoards of tourist, who come to witness the marvels of this Rajasthani city and its former Rajput rulers. From the fascinating palaces to the pandemonium of the bazaars to the hotels fit for Royalty, the locals here are proud to call this city and it’s cultural heritage their own.
At first sight the city may appear as an impossible one to navigate, however travelers find it somewhat easy to get around. The striking, and not to be missed, Old City (Pink City) lies to the northeast. History states that the city was painted Pink in 1876 in anticipation of the visit of Prince Albert and Queen Elizabeth II and compliments the warmth and colourfulness of today. To the south is Ashok Nagar, an area rich with accommodation and restaurants, and the more laid back Bani Park lies further to the west.
Although easy to get around, rickshaw drivers are notoriously aggressive, often seeking commissions at hotels and wanting to whisk travelers off to locations of their choosing. For an environmentally friendly journey, cycle rickshaws are on hand for short trips. However, be prepared to take in a certain amount of pollution.
Shoppers are in for a treat in Jaipur with every possible Rajasthani craft available. Day and night, bazaars line the streets of the old city awaiting the eager tourist. The areas around the City Palace and Hawa Mahal are notable tourist traps, so be ready to bargain, and bargain hard as the shop keepers of Jaipur don’t give in easily. Another big thing in Jaipur are precious and semi precious stones and gems. Scattered around the, Muslim, Pahar Ganj area are numerous dealers and workshops, where stones are cut. Unfortunately, this business brings with it a certain amount of scams, so buy with caution.
Being the capital of Rajasthan, getting in and out of the city is easy. Buses, leaving from the Main Bus station, are plentiful and run to most Rajasthan cities as well as interstate, including an hourly run to Delhi, India and 12 daily to Agra, India to see the Taj Mahal. Jaipur’s train station has an excellent, tourist friendly, office with trains running to Agra, Ahmedabad, Delhi, Jaisalmer, Udaipur and Jodhpur, India amongst others. Those who can afford it may take advantage of the city airport, with domestic services to Delhi, Mumbai, Udaipur and Ahmedabad.
Not many cities able to boast overly luxurious hotels, beggars outside rich gem stores and cattle and camel carts happily wandering through the streets. Consequently, and despite its craziness, noise and contrast of rich and poor, Jaipur has a mystical charm that enchants travelers in search of a complete Indian experience.
Things to do in
Jaipur Sightseeing – there are several tourist attractions in Jaipur and it is recommend that you spend a few days touring the sites.
Jaipur Old City - Affectionately known as the PinkCity and the focal point of the city, the area is partly surrounded by a now run down wall. Small avenues, all home to varying crafts, lead the way to a feast of spectacular palaces, monuments and bazaars.
Hawa Mahal - The city icon and most distinctive construction is a remarkable five-storey pyramid like façade. Bursting out like an enormous honeycomb, the 953 windowed construction was built to enable women of the Royal families to observe the city life and activities. Climbing to the top provides an incredible view of the Jantar Mantar and across the city. Entrance is at the rear and not via the main road. Opening times are 9am - 4.30pm, Saturday - Thursday. Entrance Rs30 (video Rs70).
Jaipur City Palace - Next door to the Hawa Mahal is this equally impressive architectural construction made up of some fine gardens and courtyards. The actual premises consists of, amongst others, Mubarak Mahal (WelcomePalace), Diwan-I-Khas (Hall of Private Audience) and Pitam Niwas Chowk, the latter representing all four seasons of the year. The complex is a fascinating tribute to the talents of Rajasthani architecture and is a sight to behold. Opening times are 9.30am - 5pm. Entrance Rs 180 (camera/video Rs50/Rs200).
Jantar Mantar - Huge stone observatory built by the Maharaja Jai Singh, 1727 - 1733. At first sight the stone and marble astronomical instruments appear like something out of a fairytale movie, however they actually provide accurate information that can be compared with today’s modern developments. Opening times are 9am - 4.30pm. Entrance Rs10 (camera/video Rs50/100). Free on Monday.
Galta - Making the 200m climb up the rocky gorge is worth every step as the unsurpassed views of the city and surrounding areas unfold. Often referred to as the MonkeyTemple, due to the hoards of monkeys running and jumping about. These are generally not a nuisance, although be careful if feeding them. The temple is easiest reached by rickshaw, however, as it is a long way up, and down, be sure to confirm the pick up point with the driver.
Raj Mandir Cinema - An evening at the cinema, to enjoy one of Bollywood’s finest, is a must in India. Jaipur has arguably the most lavish cinema in the country, which is so ugly it verges on beauty and is somewhere between a spaceship and a wedding cake. Almost as entertaining as the movies.
Budget Hotels in Jaipur
Karni Niwas - Family run hotel with large rooms, many with a balcony, at reasonable prices. All rooms come with air conditioning, TV and 24-hour hot water. C5 Motilal Atal Road (behind Hotel Neesham). Tel (91) (141) 2365433.
Atithi Guest House - Pleasant, centrally located, hotel offering well-kept rooms situated around a tranquil courtyard. Decent rooftop restaurant and room service available. 1 Park House Scheme Road. Tel (91) (141) 2378679.
Saharia Organic Resort - Located in Maheshpura, 25km from Jaipur, is this beautiful organic resort. Accommodation is in mud huts, there is a swimming pool and the finest Rajasthani food is available. Surya Vatika Road, Maheshpura. Tel (91) 9435031097.
Midrange Hotels in Jaipur
Hotel Madhuban - This hotel, housed in a heritage home, is run by the family of the ancient state of Patan. All rooms are impeccably decorated with the finest Rajasthani furniture. D-237 Bihari Marg, BaniPark. Tel (91) (141) 2200033.
Luxury Hotels in Jaipur
Raj Palace Hotel - Almost better than luxury, this hotel has attracted notable celebrities and Royal Families from all over the world. All rooms are uniquely decorated and certainly fit for a King. Jorawer Singh Gate, Amer Road. Tel (91) (141) 2634077.
RambaghPalace- A hotel housed in the former home of a Maharaja. Elegant rooms, swimming pool and bar are major selling points. Bhawani Singh Road. Tel (91) (141) 2211919.
Jaipur News – Patrika, web: http://patrika.com/