Pastel palaces, costumed elephants greeting passengers arriving at the train station, and forts frequented by maharajas sound like something out of a fantasy novel. Truth is, it’s just another day in the magnificent city of Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan.
A land of royalty, grandeur and opulent architecture, Jaipur is famously known as the Pink City–just take a walk along the streets of the walled city and it’s clear why. From the rose gold facades of towering monuments to the blush tones of its enchanting sunsets, it’s like a pink paradise seemingly everywhere you look. In fact, they’re so serious about it that the government has the sandstone facades repainted every few years.
Spend your days getting a glimpse of local life by browsing the bustling bazaars, then head to historical places in Jaipur like the forts and museums to learn about its rich history and why it’s protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From floating palaces to ancient stepwells, here are the best places to include on your Jaipur itinerary.
A great place to kick off your Jaipur city tour is the City Palace, a lovely complex consisting of royal buildings, museums, courtyards and temples. Built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II in 1727, many of the structures have a fascinating fusion of Rajasthani and Mughal architecture, and the royal family of Jaipur still lives in one section of it.
Self-guided and group tours are available, highlighting the Diwan-e-Khas (Hall of Private Audience) and Diwan-e-Aam (Hall of Public Audience), the impressive Chandra Mahal palace, and the symmetrical Mubarak Mahal building which is intricately carved out of white and beige stone and houses a museum. Don’t miss the Lotus Door (commonly known as Heaven’s Gate) which is a kaleidoscope of colours that makes the perfect backdrop for an #OOTD photoshoot.
Hawa Mahal (The Palace of Winds)
Just past the City Palace along a hectic shopping street (it’s not uncommon to see an elephant wander by) sits Hawa Mahal, which is an absolute showstopper. Considered one of the most impressive Jaipur attractions, the ‘Palace of Winds’ is beloved for its five storeys of gorgeous latticework and 953 windows.
Hawa Mahal dates back to 1799, and was built to provide privacy to the ladies of the royalty to look over the lively thoroughfare below without being seen. Interestingly, the five-storey building is said to be the tallest in the world without a foundation, as its curved structure keeps it upright without additional support.
It’s no surprise Hawa Mahal is a popular location for photographers, and the best way to snap a shot is by heading up to the cafe located directly across the street. Inside you’ll find a quiet respite from the chaos below, refreshing drinks, and an unobstructed, front row view of one of the top Jaipur sights.
Amer Fort (Amber Fort)
The crown jewel of Jaipur, Amer Fort is a majestic structure perched high on top of a hill, overlooking the city. Classic fort move. Built during the rule of Raja Man Singh in the 16th century, it played home to the royal Rajput rulers and is now a series of manicured grounds, courtyards dotted with fountains, extravagant palaces and lavish rooms.
A long, winding road leads past rows of homes leading up to the top, and most visitors either hike it (not easy an easy feat in the sweltering heat!), hop in a 4×4, or saddle up for an elephant ride. But…maybe don’t enable animal cruelty and stick with the jeep ride up instead, mmmkay?
Budget at least half a day to explore the Amber Fort, to make time to dine like royalty at the restaurant overlooking the grounds, marvel at the intricate details adorning the palace walls, and end the day by watching the spectacular Sound and Light show.
Albert Hall Museum
Besides its ornate structures which make it a favourite stop on the popular Golden Triangle Tour which includes visits Agra and Delhi, Jaipur has built a reputation for some excellent arts and crafts. While you can see a lot of these products at the shops, galleries and boutiques, the Albert Hall Museum is a great stop to see the traditional work of Indian artists and artisans as well as some exhibits from international cultures.
Considered one of the top things to see in Jaipur, the museum itself is a splendid, spearmint-green structure which is stunning when lit up at night. Some of the artifacts on display include pottery, metal art, sculptures, weapons, textiles, jewellery, paintings, furniture and even an Egyptian mummy.
Book a top-rated Jaipur sightseeing tour:
Jal Mahal (Water Palace)
As if pink palaces and hilltop forts weren’t fabulous enough, Jaipur went the extra mile by building a palace in the middle of a lake. As you do.
While visitors aren’t able to access the inside (because, uh, it’s in the middle of a lake), simply being able to gaze at the stunning vistas of the palace, surrounding lake and the hills in the background makes this well worth a quick stop on your Jaipur itinerary. What makes it even more interesting is the fact that while only one storey is visible, there are actually four storeys underneath the water. Holy engineering feat, Batman!
Panna Meena Ka Kund
Fancy yourself as a photographer? Then you won’t want to miss Panna Meena Ka Kund, which is one of the best places to visit in Jaipur to up your photo game. Considered a bit of a hidden gem (unless you type #Jaipur into the Instagram search bar…oh hello 1.34 million photos of girls in pretty dresses and floppy hats posing here!), this stepwell has several series of steps in a symmetrical design going all the way down to the water.
Built as a water storage system in the 16th century, people from the surrounding villages would walk down these steps to collect water, and it quickly became an important social gathering place (and perhaps the inspiration for the term ‘local watering hole?’).
Other places to see in Jaipur
If time allows during your Jaipur visit, head to Jantar Mantar which is an astronomical observatory built in the 18th century. Other places worth visiting are the Nahargarh Fort and Jaigarh Fort (if you’re not sick of forts yet), a tour to the Chand Baori step wells in Abhaneri, and Jawahar Circle which is an absolutely gorgeous garden accented with a light fountain and the rainbow-hued Patrika Gate.
Where to stay in Jaipur:
Umaid Bhawan Heritage House Hotel: With its well-styled rooms, carved balconies and gardens, this heritage hotel is one of the bests places to stay in Jaipur to enjoy an authentic experience. Guests love the outdoor pool and helpful staff. Click here to book
Umaid Haveli Hotel and Resort: An infinity pool on the 10th floor of this property overlooking the city gives the Haveli some serious wow factor. This boutique hotel is decorated in the Rajasthani style, making it one of the best hotels in Jaipur to enjoy a bit of character mixed with luxury. Click here to book
Globe Guide explored Jaipur as a guest of the India Ministry of Tourism. As always, hosts have no editorial influence on articles.
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