Jaipur is the largest city in Rajasthan and was built in the eighteenth century by Sawai Jai Singh as India’s first planned city. Although Jaipur serves mainly as a stepping stone for travelers heading to the desert cities of Jodhpur and Jaisalmer, it is not without its own attractions, such as several massive Rajput forts. So, despite the chaos and dust, it is definitely worth pausing here for several days. Now Jaipur is growing fast and various development projects are being done by the government and private enterprises.
Jaipur is often called the Pink City in reference to its distinctly colored buildings, which were originally painted this color to imitate the red sandstone architecture of Mughal cities. The present earthy red color originates from repainting of the buildings undertaken for a visit by the Prince of Wales in 1876. The city, which is surrounded by rugged hills and besieged walls, is full of fascinating royal heritage and magnificent well preserved buildings.
Jaipur was built by Sawai Jai Singh II, a Rajput king who ruled from 1699 to 1744. In 1727, he decided it was necessary to shift from Amber Fort to a location providing more space and better facilities, and began to construct the city. Jaipur is actually India’s first planned city, and the king put great effort into its design. The old city was laid out in a rectangle shape of nine blocks. State buildings and palaces occupied two of these blocks, while the remaining seven were allocated to the public. As for why the city was painted pink, it was to welcome the Prince of Wales when he visited in 1853.
State : Rajasthan
Location : It’s located approximately 260 kilometers (160 miles) south west of Delhi.
Population : There are around 5 million residents
Area : 200.4 km² (77 sq mi)
Climate : Jaipur has a very hot and dry desert climate. During the summer months from April to June, temperatures hover around 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) but can easily exceed this. Monsoon rains are received, mostly in July and August. However, daytime temperatures still remain above 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit). The most pleasant time to visit Jaipur is during the winter, from November until March. Winter temperatures average 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit). Nights can be very chilly though, with temperatures dropping to 5 degrees Celsius (41 degrees Fahrenheit) in January.
By Air : Jaipur Airport (JAI/VIJP) is situated in the satellite town of Sanganer and offers sporadic (chartered) service to London and Dublin. Flights to Singapore and Bangkok are available via Delhi. Direct flights to Sharjah, Muscat and Dubai are also available. Jaipur also has daily domestic air links with many Indian cities such as Jodhpur, Udaipur, Aurangabad, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Goa, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Mumbai and Indore.
By Rail : Indian Railways connects Jaipur from all over the country and is one of the cheapest options. A number of daily trains connect Jaipur to Delhi, Ahmedabad, Agra,Mumbai, Jodhpur, Kota, Alwar and Ajmer. Daily connections are also available for Udaipur, Chittaurgarh, Bikaner, Jaisalmer, Barmer, Kolkata, Jammu, Pathankot, Ludhiana, Kanpur, Roorkee, Haridwar, Gwalior, Indore, Jabalpur and Bhopal.
Long-distance trains arrive from many other major cities including Lucknow, Allahabad, Benaras, Vadodara, Surat, Nagpur, Bilaspur, Raipur, Patna, Ranchi, Bhubaneswar, Puri, Chennai, Bangalore, Mysore, Hyderabad, Goa, Mangalore, Kozhikode and Kochi. However the most popular option from Delhi is the Shatabdi express which departs New Delhi station at 6:05AM and reaches Jaipur at 10:50AM. There are three major railway stations Jaipur Junction (main station), Durgapura and Gandhinagar (Jaipur), which is not to be confused with Gandhinagar in Gujarat state. All trains stop at Jaipur Junction and a few trains stop at Durgapura and Gandhinagar stations also.
By Bus : here is an excellent bus service between Jaipur to Delhi by Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation with buses approximately every half an hour both sides. There are several types of buses including Deluxe, AC and the superior AC Volvo buses. From Delhi you can board the bus from Bikaner House on Pandara Road next to India Gate. From Jaipur you can board the bus from Narayan Singh Circle or the main Sindhi Camp bus stand. You can also book tickets up to 6 days in advance from both these places. These buses typically take 6 hours (by Volvo) or 6-7 hours by other deluxe buses. There are also some private bus operators active in the city but you should avoid them as most of them do not have permits and drive rashly. Also note that if you plan to leave from Delhi airport, you can get off the bus at Dhaula Kuan and get an autorickshaw or perhaps a taxi from there. You do not need to enter congested Delhi. Express buses to Ahmedabad and several cities and towns within Rajasthan (such as Kota and Bundi) are also available.
By car : This is the most popular way of reaching from Delhi. The journey by car from Delhi to Jaipur takes less than 4hrs. National Highway no. 8 connects Delhi to Jaipur via the industrial township of Gurgaon. The road is excellent.
Local Transport in Jaipur
Autorickshaw : By and large, autorickshaw is the best way around the city. If you hire an autorickshaw for a whole day (with a trip to Amber Fort) it’ll cost you in between 300 – 400 INR. Prepaid autos are available at the Jaipur railway station and the Sindhi Camp bus stand. The rates have been revised to around Rs. 350-400, and the autorikshaw walas will tell you to take the Slip from the Police Booths, but you can also go directly without the Slip but don’t forget to Bargain over the price in that case, it could be much cheaper. It’ll be best if you start your Sight seeing by 10 in the morning as all the major spots get closed by 4:30 and each spot takes a lot of time especially the Forts.
Cycle-rickshaw : Cycle-rickshaws are cheaper, but the amount of time it takes quickly makes the extra few rupees worth it. Walking in the bazaar is a treat, although side streets are a bit less welcoming and offer a sharper glimpse of poverty.
By taxi : The taxis in Jaipur are very convenient and comfortable. Most of the vehicles are Maruti Omni Vans or Tata Indica cars, which are much safer than Auto rickshaws, and the drivers are polite. If you are alone or going to an unknown destination, you are strongly advised to choose this option, even though the rates will be double that of an autorickshaw. you must call for a taxi, as it is nearly impossible to hail one unless you are at a major point like the airport. When you call, you should negotiate a fare (or agree on using the meter) and get the taxi’s ‘number’. The taxi will come pick you up, and call you when they are close. Taxis generally have yellow license plates with black letters. Some taxis are painted with yellow & black color scheme on their body which helps to uniquely identify from the private cars.
• Pinkcity Radio Taxi, +91 141 220-5000
• Shree Shyam Radio Taxi, +91 141 237-2222
• Jain Taxi Service, +91 141 229-2064
By car : Most travel agencies will provide cars for local hire. There are many tour operators available which are approved by Tourism dept. and one can hire for a leisure tours.
Where to Stay in Jaipur
Jaipur “The Pink City” has a number of hotels that are well equipped with modern amenities and facilities. You can select an accomodation from Heritage hotels to five star hotes to budget hotels depending upon your pocket. Jaipur has a number of heritage hotels, which have been converted into hotels from the erstwhile palaces and havelis of Jaipur royalty.
What to see in Jaipur
Jaipur forms part of India’s popular Golden Triangle tourist circuit, and lures visitors with its stunning remnants of a bygone era. The royal forts and palaces of Jaipur are the most popular attractions. Most of them boast stunning views and elaborate architecture. Elephant safaris and hot air balloon rides are on offer for the more adventurous visitors. Shopping is fantastic in Jaipur, with everything from jewelry to handicrafts available. Staying in Jaipur is also particularly enjoyable. The city has some incredible heritage hotels that have been converted from old palaces, giving guests a very regal experience.
Forts & Palaces
Hawa Mahal, Amber Fort, Jaigarh Fort, Nahargarh Fort, City Palace, Chandra Mahal, Diwan-e-Aam and Jal Mahal
Birla Temple or Lakshmi Narayan Mandir, Govind Devji Temple, Moti Doongri Temple, Galtaji, Akshardham Temple (at Vaishali Nagar), Jain Temple
Ram Niwas Garden, Central Museum (or Albert Hall Museum)
Zoological Garden, Sisodia Rani Palace and Garden, Vidyadhar Garden, Central Park (Entrance near Statue Circle), Kanak Vrindavan,
Chokhi Dhani and Chand Baori stepwell
What to do
– Visit the bazaar in the city centre : An evening visit is a complete assault on the senses – the colours, the sights, the sounds and the smells. There are different specialist zones, whether it’s food, flowers, textiles, carved statues or plumbing.
– A visit to Amber Fort : A fantastic hill-top location and simply a wonderful place to visit. It could be the elephants arriving and departing in the courtyard, or it could be the buildings and the whole setting that feel like they have come straight from a Star Wars set.
– Amber Sound and Light Show : Experience the history, culture, life of AMBER through this spectacular show. Wonderful music and lighting bring the fort alive. A must for everyone visiting Jaipur at Kesar Kyari, Amber Fort.
– A visit to Raj Mandir Theatre : An experience in itself. The best movie theater in Rajasthan, it offers an overwhelming experience. From the pushing, shoving, and general chaos in the ticket line, to an audience that laughs, cries, cheers, claps, and consistently talks through the entire film, the Raj Mandir provides an insight into Rajasthani culture. The movies themselves are always interesting; Masala movies are action, drama, mystery, suspense, and epics all wrapped into one single movie, teeming with dances and obligatory wet sari scenes, and unabashedly lifting generous amounts of plot devices from Western movies.
– Nad Sadhna. Provides a platform to learn Indian Music (Vocal, Instrumental and Dance) from an experienced musician & recipient of several prestigious awards like SUR-MANI and NAD-SADHAK, Dr. Ashwin Dalvi.
What to eat and where to eat
Rajasthani Cuisine influenced by the Rajput inhabitants as well as the desert aspect of this region has remained unchanged over the centuries. The ingredients most used in Rajasthani Recipes have been chosen, more out of hard geographical compulsion than out of fetish for the taste. With scarce water resources and few fresh vegetable growing in the region, the people devised dishes that required the minimum use of water and that would last days in the hot weather without the need to be reheated.
– Pyaz ki Kachori : Do not miss the famous Pyaz ki Kachori (a spicy onion dish) of Rawat Mishthan Bhandar. Situated at Polo Victory cinema and very close to both railway station and the bus stand this is a famous age old kachori hangout
– Rasmalai : Another very popular sweet dish all round the country is Rasmalai of Laxmi mishtan Bhandar (LMB). The hotel LMB is situated in the walled city
– Shakes and Icecreams : Yankee Doodle, Jal Mahal at MI Road and Milky Way near St. Xavier School are popular ice cream parlours.
Places to eat :
– Chokhi Dhani & Apno Gaon : Two excellent places to enjoy Rajasthani food served in the traditional mode. Chokhi Dhani a.k.a lalten restaurant is a more popular place because of being on the main road near the airport and excellent to do things like horse riding, camel riding, maze, boating, kathputli (puppet) show etc. Apno gaon however serves mouth watering delicious food as all vegetables and fruits are plucked minutes before from the field before being served to you. Slightly away from the main city one has to go in for a bumpy ride to reach here.
– Natraj : On MI Road is an excellent Vegetarian place serving local fare. Their specialty is the Rajasthani Thali.
– Loharu House : This is the house of a Royal Family in Civil Lines, where you can call in advance and request them to put together a special dinner. Tel 0141 – 222 5251/0141 – 222 5945
– Four Seasons : If you are looking for vegetarian food this is the place. Location -C-Scheme
– Chitra Cafeteria : Behind Amber Towers, Sansar Chandra Road, Jaipur – 302001, Telephone numbers +91 141 237 2456, +91 141 237 1773, +91 141 510 6010 fax: +91 141 236 1871. Good, wholesome vegetarian food. Their lunch buffet is excellent. Rs 150 for a three course meal.
– Anokhi cafe : excellent organic home-baked cakes (the carrot cake is a winner!) & freshly prepared sandwiches, pastries, savoury snacks plus organic cafetieres of coffee, a selection of good teas etc. Quiet, relaxing, good value for money & situated outside the Anokhi shop, 2 Tilak Marg, C-Scheme, jaipur. The shop is great for truly ethical hand printed contemporary & wearable clothes & textiles.
– Niros : Located on MI Road, Niros is a 60 year old restaurant serving mostly Indian and Indo-Chinese dishes. Expect to spend Rs. 500+ on a meal for two.
– Surya Mahal : A popular ice-cream parlor located on MI road (near Paanch Batti), Surya Mahal has an assortment of ice cream shakes, and some very indigenous ice cream flavors. Excellent after a hearty meal at one of the MI road restaurants.
Some Helpful Tips
– Jaipur is a much visited tourist destination, and where there are tourists, there are scams. You’re guaranteed to be approached on numerous occasions. However, the most common scam which all visitors should be aware of is the gem scam. It comes in various guises but the important thing to remember is under no circumstances should you purchase gemstones from someone who approaches you to do so, or enter into a business deal, no matter how much you think it may be in your favor.
– Scams involving auto rickshaw drivers are also common in Jaipur. If you arrive by train, be prepared to be surrounded by them, all vying to take you to a hotel of their choice where they will get a commission. You can avoid this by going to the prepaid auto rickshaw counter at the station. Police in Jaipur is very friendly, in case you feel the AutoRickshaw driver is trying to misguide you or forcing you for some extra money then just refer the police persons located at various spots.
– Some autorickshaw drivers will tell you to buy artifacts and gifts from some shops especially some located on way to amber fort. Firmly refuse to stop there as these shops operate on commission to the auto driver and fleece you. If you’ve got to buy some souvenirs buy them in city’s main shopping areas like bapu bazzar.
– Take some first hand information about the eating and Shopping places as the drivers have their fixed commissions at shops and eating outlets, so you might end up paying more for and item or eating at an undesirable place.
– The constant summer heat is very draining, so it’s important to take measures to avoid getting dehydrated if you visit during the hottest months. Make sure you drink plenty of water (Mineral water for foreign tourists) and avoid staying out in the direct sun for too long.