Rajasthan and Jaipur conjures up images of the mighty Mughals that ruled much of India from the 16th to 19th century. Today we can still see their influence on Indian culture in Jaipur in the form of art, architecture, food and dance. One of the many great reasons to visit India is due to its cultural diversity and regional differences. Whilst you may need to venture out of Jaipur to see more traditional and authentic Rajasthani culture it’s still a great place to get a taster. Our top 6 things to do in Jaipur:
Monkey Temple / Galta Ji
Situated a 100R tuk tuk ride away from the Pink City the Monkey Temple is perched up on a hill where you’ll get magnificent views of the city.
You might get one or two people latch onto you who will want to give you a “tour”, there’s no need for this.
A 10 minute walk takes you to the first set of buildings and lots of monkeys lazing and larking around. Further up from the Galta Ji Temple is the small Sun Temple at the top of the complex where you will find a great view of Jaipur.
Kids will be around asking for money or asking for their pictures to be taken. These pictures won’t be free of course.
Entrance is free but you’all be expected to donated to any holy men or women looking after or using the temples.
Around 15km north north east of the Pink City, Amber Fort showcases a part of the grand history of Rajisthan.
Elephant rides are available to get you up hill to the fort if that is your kind of thing, but none were about on the scorching hot day that we were there.
Grand buildings and the palace inside the 16th century fort are adorned with intricate architectural and design details.
Open from 08:00 to 18:00, entrance is 200R for foreigners, and there is also a light show at 19:30 in English costing 200R.
On your way there and back don’t miss the Floating Palace (or Jal Mahal), unfortunately not open to the public but it isn’t a mystical sight nonetheless. Haggling for tuk tuks back to the Pink City is a must if you have not organised a return trip. Drivers will offer 300R for the ride back when it should be half that.
Hawa Mehal or the Palace of Winds is probably Jaipur’s most famous landmark that embodies much of the Pink City’s architecture in one building.
The five floor structure overlooks one of Jaipur’s busiest streets so a nice view of the city can be had once you have explored the complex of corridors and rooms and made your way to the top. This makes sense as the 18th century structures as built to allow royal females to view the daily activities of the city and royal processions at a time when they were not allowed to be seen by the general public.
Opening times are 09:00 – 16:30 and entrance is 50R for foreigners.
The Pink City
Also situated near the Hawa Mehal in the Pink City are the Observatory and the City Palace.
If you decide to visit all major sights of Jaipur a composite ticket saving you a few rupees can be bought for 1000R that gives you access to: Amber Fort, Albert Hall, Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantar (Observatory), Nahargarh Fort, vidyadhar garden, Sisodia Rani garden & Isarlat (Sargasooli). The ticket lasts two days.
If you are in the mood for shopping the bazaars in the Pink City are famous for jewellery and clothing.
Tuk tuk and walking is the way to get around Jaipur. The Pink City is easily walkable to visit the central palaces, observatory and bazaars. Otherwise all other sights require a tuk tuk due to the lack of public transport.
Eating in Jaipur
We were lucky that Rawat Kachori was close to our accommodation. Located on Station Road their kachoris are famous throughout India, there is an onion version and a lentil version for around 25R. They also had the best samosas we’ve ever tasted with a fresh and zingy flavour. You can also pick up sweets and desserts like rasmalai.
It’s more of a deli where you just pay at the counter, pick up your items and eat at a standing level table, but they do also have a restaurant behind the main deli store.
Chokhi Dhani located around 25km north of the Pink City is not just restaurant but an experience and a fun night out for the family or with friends.
Three meal options are available at 700R, 900R and 1100R. If you want to go for the two cheaper options arrive early to get a table. 700R gets you a vegetarian thali seated al fresco. 900R gets you a vegetarian thali in an AC dining room, and 1100R gets you a buffet including Indian and Rajisthani veg and meat options such as the famous and delicious mutton curry: laal maas. Also available are some Chinese options which seem popular throughout India, not sure why you’d fill yourself up with that though. Opening times are 17:00 – 23:00.
Chokhi Dhani is setup to replicate a traditional Rajistanhi village atmosphere. Before you get to your dining area there is much open air Rajisthani entertainment to enjoy such us: a puppet show, magic, tight rope walking, fortune tellers, and traditional dance. For a small fee you can play parlour games and ride a camel.
There are also scenes depicting historic murghal battles and a very interesting mini village with houses created and decorated in the style of each major region on India.
It does have a bit of a Disneyland feel to it, and it’s not really authentic but interesting there were hardly any foreign tourists when we were there. The ease of which you could experience a taste of traditional Rajisthan so close to Jaipur means that it’s as popular with locals as it should be for anyone visiting Jaipur. It was our most enjoyable evening in Jaipur.
Getting to Jaipur from Delhi
A 5 hour train ride from Delhi’s Sarai Rohilla station gets you into Jaipur Junction. Be aware that Jaipur has another train station before Jaipur Junction about 8km away from Jaipur centre.
We got a CC class carriage with AC seats as it wasn’t overnight which was comfortable. Train fare: 500R
If you haven’t packed any snacks fear not. Many vendors walk up and down the carriages selling anything from biryani, to chain, crisps and samosas. 4 samosas were a bargain 40R. Some of the chants from the food sellers are as entertaining as the food is tasty.
Staying in Jaipur
We opted for the Moustache Jaipur, a funky little hostel which has a few sister hostels around India.
The room was clean and spacious with AC and fast internet, a washing machine was available to use for 150R, there was free filtered water, a nice chill out area in reception, and cold drinks were available for purchase.
The Moustache was walkable to Jaipur Junction station but a tuk tuk was needed to get to the old Pink City which was about 2km away.