Colour me pink! Jaipur gives you a birds eye view of India through rose-tinted glasses. History, heritage, romance waft across its skyline — through the fairy-tale galleries of the Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds), over the ramparts of Amer Fort, and across the exquisitely manicured gardens of Rambagh Palace.
Jaipur is full of street candy — literally, as the old city’s bazaars are lined with sweet shops selling toothsome burfi, and vendors dishing up sizzling yellow and orange jalebis fresh off the griddle at street corners in the Pink City.
It’s also a shopaholic’s fantasy with lines of shops selling just about everything from jootis (shoes) to jewellery (particularly the silver and stones that Rajasthan is famous for).
It’s not just about the retail therapy. Shopping in Jaipur is a mesmerising experience for the uninitiated. Before you know what’s happening you’ll have tye-dye saris and duppattas (scarves) draped over your shoulders, bejewelled bangles being slipped onto your wrist, a rope of pearls strung around your neck and a cup of hot tea and a sizzling jalebi pressed into your hand. How can you resist?
So what’s with the rosy hue? In 1876, HRH Edward Albert, Prince of Wales, decided to pay a visit.
The Maharaja of Jaipur, Sawai Ram Singh, decided to give the city a glowing facelift and painted all the buildings pink. The pink has outlived both, Ram Singh and Edward, but Jaipur continues to thrive in living colour!
Jaipur is all about living to the fullest. Everything is a little larger than life here. The Jantar Mantar is a great place to start with its massive astronomical instruments scattered across an outdoor park. Amer Fort dominates the skyline. Encounters Asia leads you on a guided hike through the woodland behind the fort gives you birds eye views of the old city, and a unique perspective on the fortress itself.
There’s a palace around every corner. Jaipur revolves around the City Palace, which stands majestically, in the heart of the city.
Ornate and opulent, the City Palace has a regal hauteur about it. Decked out like an OTT wedding cake, it’s a glittering symbol of Rajputana’s royal heritage — and it knows it. It wears that label with pride.
A little more sedate, but equally stately and sophisticated, Rambagh Palace around the corner is the home of the late Maharani Gayatri Devi, one of the most iconic figures in recent history.
With its graceful architecture and peacocks dancing across manicured lawns, this gorgeous palace turned hotel is one of our favourite places to stay. We also love the Raj Mahal Palace, an elegant and sophisticated luxury hotel, that is tucked away amid gorgeous gardens in the heart of the city.
If you’re looking for a sense of dreamy romance, then Samode Haveli is lovely, both to dine, as well as to stay.
For a touch of old world glamour, a meal at 1135 and drinks at Bar Palladio, set the tone for Jaipur chic. Or if you need an afternoon pick-me-up, a delicious cup of artisanal coffee or masala chai at one of the quirky cafes scattered across town, is just the thing you need to keep your spirits from flagging.
The outskirts of Jaipur have their own quirky appeal. We love watching the polo ponies exercise in the paddocks, and in the season watch a match between some of the best teams in the country. A visit to the block-printing works at Sanganer not only gives you an insight into this textile tradition, but allows you to engage with the artisans.
Step off the beaten path into the wilderness of Dera Amer, followed by an exclusive meal and even more delightful chat with the owners is a very memorable experience.
The desert sunset casts a burnished blush the rose-hued walls of the pink city. As you drift languidly overhead in a hot air balloon, you gaze down below at the fairy tale skyline, and feel like you’ve floated away on a cloud of exuberance.