There are essentials to tick off when sightseeing in Jaipur –  the front facade of Hawa Mahal, a tour of Amber Fort, shopping for textiles, jewellery and handicrafts in the bazaars (markets), etc. But those places would only be scratching the surface of Jaipur.

The capital of the state of Rajasthan in India has so much colour and history to offer. Walk down the bylanes of the Old City, pause to admire the architecture of old buildings and tread up the cobbled paths of its forts.

Choose to take it slow in Jaipur!

Highlights from Jaipur Sightseeing

Eiffel Tower

Amber fort : The tales of Rajputana royalty

I started my day in Jaipur early to avoid the sightseeing crowds at Amber Fort (pronounced as Amer Fort). Located ten kilometres away from Jaipur, the imposing 16th-century sandstone fort stands on a hill. You have an option to ride to the fort atop an elephant (though, an animal rights activist will discourage you!). I chose to walk up, enjoying the views of the Aravalli Hills and Maota Lake that the fort overlooks.
A local guide helped me navigate through the courtyards, temples, and palaces; their walls embellished with glass panels, stone inlays, and spectacular mirror mosaics. The guide also regaled me with captivating tales and legends of Rajputana royalty, “The queens wore such an exquisite and heavy finery on special occasions, that they had to be ferried around in chairs.”
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Govind Rajasthali Cottage Industries: A one-stop shop for Rajasthani souvenirs

I stopped at the Govind Rajasthali Cottage Industries store, located along the Man Sagar Lake, on my way back to the city after sightseeing at Amber Fort. If you do not have the patience for crowded bazaars, you may want to give this a skip! But I personally love this store as it offers so many things and it will definitely meet your shopping needs. Jaipuri quilts and bed sheets, handicrafts, paintings — there are a plethora of options to choose from. While the prices are a bit high, one can rationalise it as a markup for the convenience and variety that the store offers.
govind-rajasthali 
If you do not have the patience for crowded bazaars, you may want to give this a miss! But I personally love this store as it offers so many things and it will definitely meet your shopping needs. Jaipuri quilts and bed sheets, handicrafts, paintings — there are a plethora of options to choose from. While the prices are a bit high, one can rationalise it as a markup for the convenience and variety that the store offers.

Man Sagar Lake: The beauty of a submerged palace

After the customary souvenir shopping, I continued sightseeing in Jaipur and stopped by Man Sagar Lake to admire the deep blue expanse of water. Flanked by the Aravalli hills, this manmade lake was created in the 16th century. The Jal Mahal ‘floats’ in the middle of the lake. This red sandstone palace was built by Jaipur’s founder and ruler, Sawai Jai Singh II, as a pleasure pavilion.

man-sagar-lake 

Hawa Mahal : The quintessential landmark

Any guidebook on Jaipur  is bound to feature the Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds) as a top choice. It’s the proud king on the Jaipur sightseeing trail. Built by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh in 1979, the five-storey structure was inspired by the crown of Lord Krishna (a Hindu God). The first impression is indeed charming – a pink honeycombed facade replete with 953 latticed windows.

In the past, ladies of the royal family, not allowed to appear in public, had to observe processions and everyday life from these windows. Entering the compound from the rear gate, the interior was rather unremarkable. I could not help wondering how isolated and dull the life of a royal lady would have been, cloistered inside.

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After Hawa Mahal, I decided to walk down to the City Palace. The complex includes the Chandra Mahal building, where the descendants of the royal family still reside in the upper floors. I stepped inside the Mubarak Mahal to admire the eclectic collection of artifacts and clothes worn by Rajput royalty. Ambling down the aisles, I came across a robe that once belonged to Sawai Madho Singh I. I am not sure if the word ‘humungous’ is even apt to describe the canopy-like garment I saw!

Laxmi Mishthan Bhandar: For an authentic Rajasthani dining experience

LMB (located on Johari Bazar Road in the walled city) has acquired a considerable reputation over its 60 years of existence. The restaurant buzzes with customers all day long. The food is vegetarian, and there is a variety of sweets, snacks and local delicacies to choose from. With only a glance at the menu, my hunger pangs grew tenfold! Samosa (a fried snack), aloo tikki (potato cutlets), a full-course Rajasthani meal and paneer ghewar ( a disc-shaped sweet cake) for my sweet tooth — I feasted like royalty!

Jaipur’s bazaars and bylanes

Next day, I took a quick auto rickshaw (or a tuk-tuk) ride back to the walled city, hoping for some insta-worthy shots. Getting off in front of the Hawa Mahal, I wandered around the bazaars. Cows parked on road dividers, bells of cyclists in a hurry, shopkeepers urging you to try on gemstone jewellery — the frenzy on the Tripolia Bazar road was both exciting and overwhelming!

On an impulse, I decided to take a detour and got into a bylane. ‘Bhindo ka rasta,’ Google Maps duly announced. Marble and clay busts were lined up on either side of the road, with shops selling statues of Hindu Gods and Indian freedom fighters. I had stumbled upon a perfect spot to practice my street photography!

jaipur-bazaar

Best Time to Visit
Best time to take a trip to Jaipur

Winter (October to March) is the best season to visit Jaipur, though it can get uncomfortably cold from November to February with evening temperatures dropping to around 4 °C.

Where to Stay

Find hotels in Jaipur

Jaipur has good options to offer for all budgets. If you want a taste of royalty, book The Taj Rambagh Palace (former home of Jaipur’s maharaja) or ITC Rajputana, A Luxury Collection Hotel. There are many good mid-range hotels as well, including Holiday Inn Jaipur City Centre and Nahargarh Haveli.

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