India is a country that is charming and overwhelming, there is no halfway in between. Jaipur, nicknamed India’s pink city, it has it all. The beautiful palaces, gardens, sunrise and sunset views, delicious food and unlimited shopping from the local crafts. I was happy to discover the city with Puneet for two days, not getting lost in it’s buzz. He has an AirBnB and offers what he calls a ‘Jaipur experience’, he takes you to the best places to watch the sunrise, explains all about the historical facts when visiting one of the sight, let’s you taste all of the local delicious street food. Crossing the streets? No worries, he taught me the trick, because you can wait a long time, traffic doesn’t stop for you. I am really excited to share some of the places I have visited here, including some good places to eat and of course the hotspots for great photos!
Jaipur is part of the Golden Triangle of India: Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, these are the top three cities tourists visit in India. It is on nearly every travellers list that visit India, and I can definitely recommend it. The history is unique because of its royal monarchy past. In some of the places you will feel like you have stepped back in time.
Before traveling to India, do think about:
Visa: You need a visa to travel to India. Check with the embassy of India in your country or check this link to order online or check with the embassy in your country
Travel Insurance: If you have an ongoing travel insurance, check the coverage for India or see with World Nomads
SIM card: You can get a local sim (be sure to have an unlocked phone), most popular networks are Airtel, Jio and Idea
How long should I stay?
I would suggest a minimum of three full days, this is of course depending a little bit on the purpose of your visit. If you plan to do some (or a lot) of shopping, you might need some extra time. There are a lot of wholesalers and factories you can visit, for pottery and block printing. You can even do some courses of how to do this yourself! If you are only looking for visiting the monuments and palaces, three days should be fine.
How to get there?
It is very easy to fly into the airport of Jaipur on a domestic flight. There are also some international flights from Dubai. Use Cleartrip to book your flights in this part of the world. They have a great app as well for both Apple and Android, I have booked all my flights through them the last six months.
Other ways to get to Jaipur is by train or bus, a little more complicated to book online for foreigners, but I was referred to this website by friends, and their experience was it works perfectly fine. From the airport/train station you can prebook a taxi/Uber or just take a rickshaw to your hotel or AirBnB.
This time around I have stayed in Zostel, which is a very popular hostel-chain in India. For a hostel it was very clean with a very kind staff crew. It is located in the Pink City, so many places to visit are even on walking distance or a short drive with a rickshaw away. Check here for there package deals and more information https://www.zostel.com/zostel/jaipur/ I have already decided to come back here in the winter period, because of the different light, which as for me as a photographer who prefers to work with natural light will be completely different. Next time I will most likely stay in one of the boutique hotels, after all, sometimes you need to spoil yourself a little bit?
Places to visit (and take some beautiful memories on camera)
They have nowadays a composite ticket for 1000 INR, which gives you access to Amber Palace, Jantar Mantar, Hawa Mahal, Nahargarh, Albert Hall Museum, Sisodia Garden, Vidhyadhar Garden. The City Palace is not included. Note that the prices are subject to change, when I did my research most single entry fees were around 20-50 INR, they have added a 0 in most places;)
Amber Fort ( Amer fort)
Located about 10 km drive outside Jaipur, to see the sunrise, you would climb up the long staircase across from the fort itself, check the time of the year for the exact timing. There are different apps you can download with names like Magic Hour or Golden Hour. From the wall you have beautiful panoramic views. The fort opens from 8am and can be reached by a jeep that will take you from the bottom to top or with a taxi. You would then drive in from the back side. Inside the Fort you can hire a private guide, who will take you around.
Very popular with the locals to go and watch the sunset. Don’t expect a lot of peace and quiet, it is popular with the young crowd and families to picnic around. Again beautiful sights over the city. To go in the fort you pay a single entrance fee, but the sunset points are free accessible. Is easy to reach by car, bike or rickshaw
This epic pink building is in the city and was built for the royal women to watch the street parades. Hawa Mahal is known as the Palace of the Winds. Across from the street you will find a few rooftop bars/restaurants, which will give you a beautiful setting after your visit on the front of the building. I loved the view at sunset, because the sun sets behind the building and intensifies the ‘pink’ colour of the city. Go to The Tattoo Cafe & Lounge or Wind View Cafe right next to it, so you can enjoy this fully!
Located close to Hawa Mahal, in the heart of the Pink City. Jaipur was built with an infrastructure. From the higher floors you can see the connection in between the different landmarks, which even continues within the palace itself. The City Palace is a highly commercialised monument, which is still being used by the royal family. You have the choices between two tours, and only the grand tour will take you well to the Blue Room and the Red Room. Besides these two rooms, there are some places in the centre court which are highly popular for photos.
The world’s largest stone sundial, which you can see from the higher floors of the City Palace. It was built in 1734 and is composed of 19 instruments. The different astronomical positions can be seen with the naked eye. If you’re into science or astrology, definitely you do not want to miss out on this one. I really enjoyed the sight and had a good guide from here who could tell me in much detail about everything.
Galta Ji (Monkey Temple)
This again is located on the outskirts of the city, but on the east side, accessible with a rickshaw and some hiking. You can also drive all the way around to skip the hike. The temple is not as well maintained, but it is a special complex and definitely worth a visit if you have never been to a monkey temple. This site people come to on pilgrimage for its natural springs. It is free of entrance:)
Jagat Shiromani Temple
This is a hindu temple in Amer, nearby the Amber fort. It is richly decorated with ornaments and carved figures, dedicated to Lord Krishna. It is a beautiful place, definitely worth the visit.
This palace is beautiful in the middle of Man Sagar Lake, which you pass when going from Jaipur to Amer. Only half of the palace is visible, the other half is submerged. You can not visit the palace inside, the best view is from Amer Road, the sunrise is pretty amazing when it rises above the hills behind the lake and it’s reflection becomes visible on the water. It is also a very popular place for all the pre-wedding photoshoot, which is a big business here. Couples surrounded with a team of stylists, photographer, videographer and extra assistants...entertaining:)!
The Step Wells
The step wells are in the centre from Amer, they are not really active in use anymore. Most are build on a natural water source, like the one in Amer. Step wells are known for iconic photographs. If you are in luck, some kids might be playing around there on a warm day.
The Patrika Gate
This is the entrance to the park Jawahar Circle. The 9th gate of Jaipur, besides the eight gates that give access to the centre of the pink city. When you walk in the gate it gives you a vibrant Rajasthani coloured preview of history and art. You can look through the arches in two directions, one is more pastel coloured, the other direction slightly darker.
There are many more places to see and to visit, but these ten are covering pretty good a tour of the city. Decide where you would like to catch sunrise and sunset, and take it from there. If you would ask me, I would have a hard time to tell my favourite spots.
Place to eat or have a coffee/tea
Do try the local food. Have a chai in the morning in the streets, with a Pyaaz Kachori or Samosa, read all about it right here. I really enjoyed eating the local dishes, but ask your guide or hotel where you can best go (the quality of street food is not everywhere the same…). The link for the blog above is a good guidance, but the local guides mostly know best.
Where to sleep?
I stayed at Zostel, a highly popular chain in India for hostels. I did it to try it out, have to admit they were wonderful people, very friendly, organising everyday a gathering to go watch the sunset or having a movie house. I mentioned the AirBnB from Puneet, from which I heard was very good and the people I talked to had a great experience. The advantage of an AirBnB is of course the home life experience, and maybe getting a chance to learn some cooking as well:). Next time when I go back will definitely take some workshops for the block printing or blue pottery! At the Zostel I met Shibani, one of my roommates, she was taking a course at the Blue Pottery Art Centre in Jaipur. I am editing a short movie about her experience of the course and the products she made during her week at the centre. She is located now in Pune and has her own online shop where she sells her products. Her Instagram handle is @by_shibani
If you use Booking.com you can use this discount on your next trip, wherever you are heading. All the photos I shared I have edited in Lightroom. I mostly do only colour correction, and sometimes clean up an area when this is needed for the floor or water for example. Enjoy this beautiful city, don’t hesitate to send me an email if you need any further advice!!