India’s official ‘pink city’, there’s much more to Rajasthan’s capital than its pink-red tinged buildings and historic splendour. This majestic home to erstwhile royals is complete with old-world charm surrounded by colourful markets and chaotic streets. A part of the ‘Golden Triangle’, Jaipur is a must-visit destination along with Agra and New Delhi.
About 6 hours away from New Delhi, grand palaces and haveli is surrounded by mighty fortresses make Jaipur a welcome respite from high-rise malls and urban living. Blue pottery and more, take time off to watch a potter at work. Look out for the odd camel strolling through Jaipur’s busy streets as you make your way past hawkers and cycle rickshaws against a backdrop of its vibrant terracotta edifices. Stop over for the cultural show at Chowki Dhani before you head on to the world’s largest sundial at Jantar Mantar, Amer Fort, and the Palace of Winds, Hawa Mahal, overlooking Johari Bazaar. If you’re lucky enough to be untravelling Jaipur during Holi (in March), watch spectacularly bedecked elephants in action at elephant-polo. Then again, October in Jaipur has its own share of fun with the donkey festival and ‘best-looking donkey’ award as well as donkey racing and trading.
Best places to visit in Jaipur
Sunrise at Hawa Mahal
Watch fascinatingly carved windows of the Palace of Winds, Hawa Mahal, light up with the sun. Right on the main road, all you need to do is wake up early for a perfect start to your day with the silhouette of Hawa Mahal against the brightening sky.
Get friendly with a local family, getting to know more about their traditions and culture, as they give you a quick MasterChef session on Rajasthani food. Dishes could vary, depending on the season you’re visiting in, from millet flatbread (bajre ki roti), legumes (fali) and stuffed pepper (mirchi bada) to lentil-infused hard wheat rolls (daal baati). Enjoy your very own home-cooked Rajasthani meal with the family, and don’t forget to take notes.
Personal ‘Aarti’ at Sunset
Nothing in India is ever insignificant, least of all rituals and religion. Fire, in India, revered for being pure, has always played a huge role in any ritual. Hence, a hymn to the Fire God is considered apt when looking to cleanse yourself of earthly sins. Organise an ‘aarti’ just for you, right at your hotel, as the sun sets. A priest assembles all the required ingredients, giving you details on the significance of each as the gentle aroma of burning sandalwood fills the air. The aarti is performed for about half an hour and you will be given instructions on specific tasks from chanting to meditating and putting ghee into the fire. The perfect peaceful way to end your day.
Dinner at Chokhi Dhani
This model village resort in Jaipur is like a never-ending festival without the typical chaos. A meal here would really test your appetite and can be enjoyed while being treated to a fusillade of spectacular performances. Being here is the best way to imbibe in you the essence of Rajasthan; noise, spices, aroma and colours
The best time to un[travel] Rajasthan would be between September and April. Temperatures are cooler and tend to veer towards the colder side in December and January. Summer, essentially from April is rather warm and temperatures actually go up as high as 45 degrees C in May and June. The monsoons last through to September and the weather can get rather humid here.
• Light clothing and sandals with a large sunhat if you’re here in summer • Warmer clothing and thermals if you’re here in winter • Mosquito repellent and sunscreen • Chargers and prescription medication