Rajasthan is India’s most vibrant state so it is not surprising that its capital city, Jaipur, oozes chaotic flamboyance. A hubbub of activity, colours and people, in Jaipur, rickshaws jostle for road space with motorbikes, camels, overladen buses and vehicles. Beneath the kaleidoscope of sights and sounds, however, Jaipur is a cultural capital, a veritable display of India’s heritage, with bustling markets and majestic monuments that offer an other-worldly peace and charm amid this vibrant city.
More than 100 years after the city was painted ochre (gerua) to welcome the Prince of Wales, Jaipur is still affectionately known as the “Pink City”. The meticulously laid-out city is packed with gardens, markets, and monuments, making it a must-see city on your trip to India. Your trip to Jaipur promises to delight and enchant you as you hurtle from street to street. Don’t resist this heady mix of traditional and contemporary India: sit back, take in the sights, and enjoy being undoubtedly and irrevocably at the heart of Indian heritage.
Direct flights to Jaipur will bring you to Jaipur International Airport (JAI), one of India’s smallest airports, located on the outskirts of the city.
Situated 431 metres above sea level, Jaipur’s climate is consistently warm. Summer (mid-March until June) is hot and dry, with temperatures reaching a sizzling 45 degrees, dropping slightly in July. Although July – September are monsoon season, Jaipur doesn’t typically experience as much rain as other areas of India. During winter, however, the temperatures remain in the twenties throughout the day, dropping as low as 5°C at night. If you are looking for cheap flights to Jaipur, plan your trip during low season; in November, January and March you can benefit for great deals and fewer tourists.
Jaipur takes its name from Jai Singh II, the founder of the city. The warrior and astronomer was just 11 years old when his father passed away and he ascended to the throne. His reign saw a turbulent few years, before Jai Singh II eventually settled his many disputes with Mughals. Jai Singh II was appointed governor of several Mughal provinces; he created first a fort, then a city, which he named after himself. Jaipur was meticulously planned, and despite massive growth, it still bears an element of organised chaos that accepts the new while embracing the old traditions. Jai Sing II’s observatory is a good place to start on your trip to Jaipur’s history. Built in 1728, the observatory gains its name from the Sanskrit “yantamantr”, or “instrument of calculation”. The observatory is the largest of five built by Jai Singh, and is testimony to his overriding obsession with astronomy. It appears to be a random collection of staircases and geometrical designs; in fact, you will be forgiven if Escher springs to mind when you first see it. To make the most out of the trip, consider hiring a guide to demystify the finer elements of this UNESCO site. Perhaps Jaipur’s most iconic monument, Hawa Mahal was built by SawaiPratap Singh in 1799. Meaning “Palace of the Winds”, the Hawa Mahal is a vast structure crafted in red and pink sandstone, originally built to act as a screen to shield the royal women from the outside world. Hawa Mahal is five storeys tall and features intricate lattice work, with a massive 953 small windows carved into the exterior, designed to create a cool breeze (hence the name), and to allow the regal ladies to look out on the world going by, without being seen themselves. Jaipur is positively overflowing with ancient museums, monuments and forts, each contributing its own unique and beguiling story to Jaipur’s rich cultural tapestry. Choose to spend as much time as you like discovering these monuments; if, however, you are only limited to a day or two sightseeing, you can buy a ticket which acts as a two-day pass to India’s major sights: Hawa Mahal, Amber fort, JantarMantar, Albert Hall and Nahargarh Fort.
If you love shopping, you are in for a rare treat in Jaipur. If you don’t like shopping – you’re still in for a rare treat! People flock to Jaipur from across the globe to take advantage of exquisite jewellery, crafts, gems and artefacts at incredible prices. For less serious shoppers, the glistening kaleidoscope of colours and textures is simply mesmerising; say “no” to touts, shop-owners and stall-holders, and just soak up the incredible ambience of heat, colour and culture. Find a beautiful souvenir of your trip to Jaipur at Bapu Bazaar, where you will find exquisite saris and crafts. Browse meenakari jewellery, typical of Jaipur, and discover exotic perfumes. Luxuriate in flamboyant fabrics and tailor-made suits that promise to be the envy of all on your return home. India is home to several State Emporiums, where you can browse a number of producers and craftsmen under one, Aladdin’s Cave-like room. One example is Jaipur’s Rajasthali Emporium, which is positively teeming with tourists and locals alike, looking for pottery, embroidery, carvings, brassware and fabrics. An Emporium is a one-stop-shop (literally) and is great if you’re not a fan of shopping or want to get all of your souvenir shopping done in one go. However, if you are on the hunt for a bargain, visit the Emporium first; have a look at what you fancy and take a note of the prices, before heading out to the bazaars for a haggle.
There are few better ways to get to grips with a country’s culture than through food. It may not give you an insight into the king’s reign, or significant conflicts. It may not even help you to understand the language, but by discovering a city’s cuisine, you will discover its heart; its true flavours. Due to its arid climate, Rajasthani food differs to stereotypical Indian cuisine. Over the centuries, the Rajasthanis have adapted their cuisine to suit their climate, with recipes that circumnavigate the problems of water scarcity and a lack of fresh vegetables. Dairy features heavily, as do pulses legumes; lentils, beans and gram flour cooked with milk, ghee, butter milk and spices form the base of most dishes. You will be spoilt for choice, with street vendors and restaurants selling roti, curry and flatbread; note that, while traditional Rajasthani food is typically vegetarian, most places now serve meat alternatives. If Rajasthan is the crown of India, Jaipur is the gem in that crown. Vibrant, bustling, yet unassuming, it is impossible to view the Pink City without rose-tinted glasses. If you are planning a dream trip to India, Travangelo can help you to find cheap flights to Jaipur.