One of the great cities in Rajasthan, India is Jaipur. It is known as the “pink city” due to the color of the buildings as well as the walls and city gates surrounding the central area.
Jaipur is one of the most visited cities in India since it is not too far from New Delhi and Agra (home of the Taj Mahal), and forms a triangle of tourist destinations with these two other cities.
Here’s a few key attractions in Jaipur:
While there is a lot to see in Jaipur itself, there’s no question that the tourist sight is Amber Fort, located about 7 miles (11 km) north of town.
Leaving Jaipur, you wind past Man Sagar Lake and through the mountains for a short distance until all-of-a-sudden it appears sitting on a hill to your left. The golden-hued fort looks like a movie set rather than an actual historical palace. The fort is the former capital of Jaipur State and is the one sight that cannot be overlooked when visiting Jaipur.
Construction began in 1592 on the current fortress, built on the remains of an earlier (11th century) fort. Amber Fort is divided into 4 main sections, and each is a bit unique in its architecture.
You have to be patient and wander around a bit to see it all. We hired a guide and he pointed out some interesting things. After we finished the tour, we wandered around on our own, and found other great views.
There are three main ways up to the fort – by foot, jeep or elephant. Of course most tourists take the elephant ride, and so did we. The elephant can take two passengers at a time. Given the popularity of the elephant transportation, expect a wait of 20 – 30 minutes in line. Although this is definitely doing the touristy thing, it’s a once in a lifetime experience and was fun. By Indian standards, it’s not cheap – 900 rupees or about $15, a small local fortune.
There is another, older fort (Jaigarh) above the Amber fort, but time did not allow for us to hike up there (about 1 km uphill from the Amber Fort).
The view from Amber Fort is astounding with mountains, huge walls snaking around the hillsides, as well as seeing Maota Lake below.
Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds)
With its pink façade, the Hawa Mahal is the photogenic centerpiece of Jaipur. It is unusual in that it is five stories high but only one room in width. Its purpose was to allow the veiled ladies of the harem to view city life unnoticed from the streets below. It was built in 1799.
Right next to the Hawa Mahal, this Palace was built in the early 18th century, and is now a museum with paintings and manuscripts. Since we had just visited Amber Fort, we did not take the time to visit this Palace.
Jaipur is also known as shopping mecca for jewelry and precious and semi precious gemstones. There are a lot of jewelry and gem shops just outside the main walls. Bring your money and shopping list!
We also walked around the heart of the city – busy area which is organized by crafts in sections. Just a teeming mass of shops, workers and every day life going on.