What to see and do in India’s Pink City of Jaipur.
While in India for a business trip, I travelled down to Jaipur by train. I have visited Jaipur before, and remembered absolutely loving it. Besides being one of the more aesthetically-pleasing cities of all time, Jaipur is steeped in gorgeous architecture, history and culture.
I visited Jaipur again from Delhi on a two-day trip, this is what I managed to squeeze in and would recommend. I always find it useful to follow a rough itinerary to make the most of my visit, so by the end of the post, I’ve put together my itinerary of sorts.
Shop at Johri Bazaar
Walk about Johri Bazaar a bustling old market within the walled city of Jaipur. I didn’t shop at all, it was entertaining to just walk at look at all the colourful stuff on sale. Textiles are huge here, not just for clothes but bedcovers as well. I was told that Jaipuri Razaais, or traditional lightweight hand block printed quilts, are popular items to shop for here.
Have Rajasthani Cuisine
When in Rajasthan, eat like a Rajasthani. For Rajasthani food, I went to Laxmi Mishthan Bhandar or LMB in Johri Bazaar. We visited around lunchtime and it was crowded, but we got a table immediately. There was an even mix of locals and foreign tourists in here, so evidently this place comes highly recommended as a “safe” spot. The food was good, and prices were fair.
Our last dinner in Jaipur, we wanted to have a special last Rajasthani meal. We went to Handi Restaurant along MI Road. We arrived right at the opening at 6pm, and were the only ones there for a while. On our visit, there’s a skilled puppeteer who’d put on an entertaining show for a tip. We had Laal Maas, a Rajasthani curry, and a platter of kebabs and meat.
Other Rajasthani specialty dishes are Rajasthani Kadhi, Ker Sangri and Lassan (garlic) Chutney. Another recommended restaurant is Niro’s, also at MI Road. Both Niro’s and Handi have been around for a long while and frequented by many.
Albert Hall Museum
This was the first stop on our visit, and it was a good start because we were able to but a Composite Ticket which would get us into several other attractions.
As a museum… I was not that amazed within. I found it particularly odd that there was a mummy exhibition in the basement. It was also strange that I wasn’t allowed to take photos with my camera – but you can openly take photos with your phones. I took a photo of another tourist in front of the same security guard who said I can’t take photos with my camera. No issues. India.
As with most tourist attractions in Jaipur, Albert Hall was crowded, though it seemed even more so since you’re in enclosed areas. If you’re not that into museums I reckon you can skip this, though at least walk by Albert Hall. The museum has a beautiful white marble exterior for photos.
Consider Purchasing the Composite Ticket
As metioned earlier, I purchased the composite ticket at Albert Hall Museum. The ticket gets you to the following attractions for cheaper than if purchased individually: Amber Fort, Albert Hall, Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantar, Nahagarh Fort and a couple other spots about town too.
The composite ticket price costs RS 1,000 for foreign tourists. As reference, these are the entrance ticket fees for foreign tourists to the other attractions:
Albert Hall Museum: RS 300
Amber Fort: RS 550
Hawa Mahal: RS 200
Jantar Mantar: RS 200
Nahagarh Fort: RS 200
Entry to the City Palace and Jaigarh Fort is not included in the Composite Ticket. We purchased separate tickets to the City Palace, and didn’t make sense to visit Jaigarh Fort when we have Nahagarh Fort on our short two-day itinerary already. The biggest selling point to me were that you get to skip ticket queues (and tour guide touts) at the other attractions.
The Hawa Mahal is the iconic pink palace of the Pink City. This Palace of the Wind has a honeycomb façade with tiny windows, originally intended for royal ladies to discreetly peek out into happenings on the streets. When I visited Jaipur some couple years back, we only stopped by the outside. I never realized that you could actually enter the Hawa Mahal. I highly recommend stepping in to explore the Hawa Mahal interior.
You can also climb to the top of the the five-storey-ed façade; honestly not much of a view but it was slightly exhilarating squeezing past people with selfie sticks on the the tiny passageway.
The City Palace is small but packs a punch. Located in the city centre, it has lots of beautiful rooms to wander about and photo opportunities to be had – the colourful peacock doorways being my personal favourites. There are a couple of museums here that might be worth a walk through.
I’m not a big fan of pigeons, unless they make my photos look good. Pigeons are everywhere, therefore you have an 80% chance of getting pigeon poop on you.
I was walking towards the City Palace just minding my own business when I saw a small piece of white object flying in the air towards me. As I squinted my eyes trying to figure what it was, it landed somewhere between my legs. I looked down trying to find what that was – but then I felt it. A spot of wetness slowly spreading its moist upon the skin of my inner thighs. I wish the situation was as sexy as it sounds, but your girl just got bird poop on her pants. Now, you’re suppose to let it dry and scrape it off, but read: I could feel it seeping onto my skin. Cue frantic slapping of wet tissues in the middle on my thighs in unglam fashion.
But pigeons are not the only non-humans scurrying about Jaipur in broad daylight. The path from Albert Hall to the Pink City gate you will encounter a park of sorts with dozens of rat holes and its inhabitants darting from one black pit to the next. We’ve also been harassed by monkeys while we were on a rooftop trying to enjoy a cup of Chai. While trying to take an Instagram-worthy shot of Hawa Mahal. One time, we encountered a huge group of goats just in the middle of the road bleating. We weren’t even surprised. India.
The Jal Mahal is a Water Palace best admired from… afar. It looks beautifully serene especially when it reflects off the still lake. I say from afar because unfortunately the lake was polluted with trash when we visited.
The Jal Mahal is a quick pitstop for most on the way to Amer Fort from Jaipur city. Besides taking photos and admiring Jal Mahal, there’s nothing much else to do here. We spent a bit more time here by having breakfast at one of the local food carts. Freshly made rotis, piping hot curries and chais by the roadside – it was perfection.
Surrounding Jal Mahal is a small flea market of touristy souvenirs. Be prepared to be pestered incessantly to dress up in traditional garb and get your photos taken.
Amer Fort & Palace
The Amer (or Amber) Fort & Palace is one of the highlights of the visit. There are several ways of getting up – by car, by elephant (not recommended) and very easily by foot (highly recommended). Expect to spend a couple of hours just exploring the palace compounds.
Amer Fort is so painfully photogenic that I spent most of my time just taking photos in every nook and cranny. My favourite room is the Sheesh Mahal – or Hall of Mirrors.
Climb up the fort opposite Amer Fort – for free
If you’re up for a bit of exercise, trek the stairs up to the fort opposite of the Amer Palace. It’s open and completely free to enter. It offers a nice view of the Amer Fort and it would have been a good photo opportunity. I say would have been, because my travel partner did this. I was enjoying my cup of Chai at the café at the foot of this fort.
Panna Meena Ka Kund (Stepwell)
This historic symmetrical stepwell is located close to Amer Fort and worth a quick stop. Supremely picturesque, as long as you can ignore the slimy green waters that lurk at the bottom. You used to be able to walk down the stepwells; these days a guard will prevent you from doing so.
From Amer Fort, we drove up the windy yet straightforward road to Nahagarh Fort. Nahagarh Fort stands at the edge of Aravalli hills and overlooks the city of Jaipur. There’s a museum of sorts in the fort, and a very… dinky-looking stepwell, that, if cleaned up well, could turn out quite spectacular. We went off the regular path and chose to duck under some branches to get to the stone fort spires. From here, I could also see the vast panoramic view of Jaipur city – it was quite impressive.
Similar to Nahagarh Fort, Jaigarh Fort protects the city of Jaipur. We drove to the fort, but didn’t enter since we were headed to Nahagarh Fort. Also Jaigarh Fort entrance fees was not included in the Composite Ticket. Just based on the exterior, Jaigarh Fort sports a pinkier hue to Nahagarh yellow sandstone.
The Ideal Two Day Jaipur Itinerary
Show at Johri Bazaar
Amer Fort Panna Meena Kun Kand
Where to Stay
Hilton Jaipur: For this trip, I stayed at the Hilton Jaipur. It was located close to the train station and we thought it made for a good base to get around the city.
If I could re-do the trip, I would stay in a haveli hotel in the Pink city centre:
Havelis are your traditional-style fancier Indian houses on the outside. They are available throughout Jaipur in a range of budgets and are often B&B style.
For Day 1, the spots are all in walking distance. You need transportation for getting out of the city to Amer Fort.
Car: We hired a car to travel to Amer Fort. It was cheap, less than $20 for 8 hours, but you do need local ID. While it was fun to go on mini roadtrips and go off the tourist trail, I didn’t think it was worth it. You have to be so careful to not get scratches when driving along any high-traffic areas, and in Jaipur, that’s pretty much everywhere in the city centre.
Autorickshaws: The local tuktuks are readily available and they can be fun to ride around in BUT you have to go through a lot of negotiating each time because the drivers will most definitely overcharge you.
Uber: If you have data on your phone, just call for an Uber each time. They’re readily available and in our experience will always be cheaper than the autorickshaws. One con is that they can be supremely slow – so if you’re rushing to somewhere, call way in advance.
Private Car + Driver: I highly recommend hiring a driver for a full day. I did this before and it was much more value for money.