India’s oldest planned city brings the best of Rajasthan’s culture to the fore. From food to architecture to shopping, Jaipur presents everything in one colourful package. Remarkably, for a city as old as this, it has kept up well with the times, as you will realise when you walk into its hip cafes, trendy bars and expensive hotels. Here’s how to make the most of your time in the Pink City.
Best time to visit: October to March is the best time to explore Jaipur.
How to reach
By Air: Located in Sanganer, Jaipur Airport is 12km away from the center of the city. IndiGo operates more than 150 flights between Jaipur and all other vital locations.
By Train: Jaipur Junction is the central railway station of the city, connecting it with the rest of the country through several trains like Shatabdi Express, Ajmer Shatabdi, Adi SJ Rajdhani and many more.
By Bus: Jaipur is well-connected with the other cities of the country through a vast network of buses run by the Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation (RSRTC).
Getting around: Auto-rickshaws and rented cabs like OLA are the popular means of transportation in the city. You can also try Jaipur metro that runs between Chandpole Bazaar to Mansarovar.
Feast like the kings. This restaurant serves a great ten course Rajasthani thali, in a romantic setting. The recipes have reached perfection over generations and assure of a great meal.
The sister property of Bar Palladio, in chic Narain Niwas Palace, Café Palladio serves Mediterranean food in a cheerful setting. Stop by for a coffee and something to snack on, or have a meal—you won’t leave disappointed.
A local institution, Chokhi Dhani is known for its rustic Rajasthani fare in a setting that mimics a village fair. Bangle sellers, potters and dancers round out this traditional experience.
Jaipur’s most famous sweet shop is known for its pyaaz ki kachoris, chaat and samosas. Have a sweet tooth? Try their ghevar and rasmalai. Want a proper meal? Walk into the adjoining restaurant for a belly-bursting Rajasthani thali.
On Hawa Mahal Road, Pandit Kulfi offers some unusual flavour of the favourite milk-based dessert. There are Indian variants like paan and Kesar pista, but also chocolate and sugar-free flavours in a nod to today’s diets.
The outdoor café at the Taj Rambagh Palace Hotel serves up orders in silverware (even if it’s just a hot chocolate), and offers you a chance to survey the palace grounds. The food is a bonus. Go on, feel like royalty.
Jaipur is home to mix of stores, from places where you can get traditional block printed outfits, to stores that sell the best of Indian fashion, and of course gems and jewellery, there’s something for every taste, and budget. A visit to the three most popular bazaars is probably a right place to start.
Johari Bazaar: Known for its traditional fabrics like tie-and-dye and gota, you’ll find jewellery stores too, lining Gopalji ka rasta and Haldiyon ka rasta. So, prepare to spend an afternoon here, and don’t forget to haggle.
Bapu Bazaar: On the other hand Bapu Bazaar is best known for its goods made of camel leather, and its confections like churan. You can also pick up some Attar or Ittar and jewellery.
Chamaliwala Bazaar: Lastly, there’s Chamaliwala Bazaar, which is where you should visit if you’re looking for jewellery, as this is market known for its silversmiths.
Stores in Jaipur: When it comes to the stores to stop by at Anokhi, which offers block printed clothing in silhouettes that are for the 21st century should be on your list. Next-door is the Anokhi Café, where you can grab a bite, or sit down and rest with a cup of coffee. Also, worth checking out, especially for a well-curated set of clothing from some of India’s best designers, is Hot Pink, in Narain Niwas Palace. The store is one of many in the palace complex, but here you’ll find outfits from Namrata Joshipura and Manish Arora on the racks. In the same palace, check out Idli, where you’ll find everything from home décor to jewellery, all put together by French designer Thierry Journo. Successfully bridging the divide between modern India and ancient techniques is Jaipur Modern, a lifestyle store that has a range of clothing, and textiles, though we’re partial to their supple scarves in gorgeous colour combinations. There’s a café attached for those hungry for a bite afterwards.
Jaipur Blue Pottery Art Centre: For something traditional, the Jaipur Blue Pottery Art Centre which is known for its ceramic artefacts in the city’s signature blue colour. You’ll find tiles, plates and more to bring home with you.
PM Allah Buksh and Sons: Another favourite is PM Allah Buksh and Sons, which is run by the fifth generation of the family, where brass artisans turn out lamps and more with intricate filigree work. If you like something that’s too big to fit into your suitcase, don’t worry they ship worldwide.
Rajasthali: The state-run emporium is also a well-stocked one-stop-shop for those that want to see that handicrafts and designs that Rajasthan is known for across the globe.
Amrapali and Gem Palace: Perhaps the best-known jewellery stores to come out of Jaipur are Amrapali and Gem Palace, both of which have now expanded all over the country. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit the original outlets. While Amrapali has a line of jewellery designed by Manish Arora, Gem Palace is known for its classic designs and traditional pieces.
When it comes to where to party in the city, your best bet for drinks is probably the bar at Jaipur’s hotels that cater to every kind of traveller.
Bar Palladio: The most popular, with its deep blue walls, and Instagram-ready interiors is Bar Palladio, in Narain Niwas Palace, but there’s more.
Steam and the Polo Bar: the concept bar at the Taj Rambagh Palace is set inside a replica train carriage and features the most beautiful spirits from around the world. The marble patio outside only adds to the setting. In the same hotel is The Polo Bar, which serves up its signature Polotini, a setting that reflects the history of the old-world sport.
Lounge 18: The Jaipur Marriott is home to Lounge 18, where the indoor bar opens up to the pool area. Rub shoulders with overworked travelling business executives and local partygoers who enjoy the potent yet inventive cocktails.
Sheesh Mahal: Also, worth considering is Sheesh Mahal, at the ITC Rajputana, where the bar takes its inspiration from the room in Jaipur’s City Palace. Unlike its inspiration, you will get cocktails here, though we’re partial to the single malts.
Ta Blu: Rounding out the offerings is Ta Blu, on the rooftop of the Clarks Amer, from where you can look out over the Pink City, with a drink in hand. Popular with city residents, this is a local institution, and if you’re lucky, there will be a gig going on as well.
28 Kothi, Civil Lines Located centrally, 28 Kothi is a boutique guesthouse that has only five rooms (named for different coloured stones) and is an unpretentious refuge from the chaos of the city. This quiet Civil Lines property features expansive lawns, home-style cooking and in-room Ayurvedic massages.
Alsisar Haveli, Sansar Chandra Road For a stay that immerses you in the Jaipur of old, book yourself into one of the 45 rooms at Alsisar Haveli. The meticulously restored former nobleman’s townhouse features courtyards, gazebos and more.
Diggi Palace, C-Scheme The venue of the Jaipur Literature Festival, Diggi Palace is a hotel that also happens to be the home of Thakur Pratap Singh Diggi, who still lives in a part of the building. The hotel consists of 70 unique rooms and a multi-cuisine restaurant that the family itself runs.
The Oberoi Rajvilas, Paldi Meena Spread over 32 acres, this hotel is known to host the glitterati. With 54 rooms, 13 luxury tents, and a Shiva temple on-site, the hotel offers a sense of tranquillity to its guests.
Radisson Blu Jaipur, Durgapura With a location that is close to the airport, and a range of eating options, the Radisson Blu Jaipur combines business essentials with modern comforts. If you’re planning a conference or a destination celebration, this might be worth considering.
Tonk: It is one of the best places to visit near Jaipur. Packed with mosques, old mansions, Tonk will amaze you with the beauty of ancient architectural wonders. Stunning artwork of temples and mosques with Sunheri Kothi or Mansion of Gold being the ultimate one.
Sariska: Known as the home for the Royal Bengal Tigers, Sariska is another interesting nearby place from Jaipur. Especially if you love adventure, wildlife and jeep safaris, this is the place you must visit.
Alwar: From mysterious forts like Bhangarh Fort to beautiful palace like Neemrana Fort, Alwar is the best place near Jaipur to explore ancient forts and ruins.
Ajmer: Now this place needs no introduction. Ajmer stands outs reflecting divinity for the famous Dargah Sharif of Moinuddin Chishti. The place also has other attractions like Taragarh Fort and Sagar Lake to make your visit memorable.
Jaipur has lots of tourist attraction, which is why it is quite impossible to cover the entire city in one day. But still, if you are in the town for a day, here is how you can make the best of it. Start your day with Amber Fort which is one of the must-visit attraction of the city. The magnificent fort nestled on the top of a hill will leave you spellbound with its Hindu and Rajput architectural styles. The next spot after Amber Fort should be the City Palace followed by Hawa Mahal and Jantar Mantar (an astronomical observatory) as they are located very close to each other. Then hit the streets of Jaipur for shopping some traditional stuff while tasting some great food. The markets where you can go for shopping includes are Johari Bazaar, Bapu Bazaar, Chandpole Bazaar, Tripoli Bazaar and Kishapol Bazaar. In the evening, head to Nahargarh Fort for a spectacular sunset and then take a long drive to Choki Dhani to enjoy authentic Rajasthani food along with traditional shows and games.
There’s a host of tours and experiences that have sprung up recently to cater to those that are looking to see the city differently. For example, Virasat Experiences offers walking tours themed around different points of interest—like photography, gastronomy, history and more. If you’re looking to get some exercise, they set-up cycling tours of the city as well. Skywaltz is another company that offers hot-air balloon trips from which you can look down on the town and Amber Fort while enjoying a journey up in the crowds. Adventure seekers can also try para-motoring on the outskirts of the city that is organised by Wingmasters Co. This aerial experience allows you to see nearby attractions like the Mundota Fort from above.
Within the city, once you’ve had your fill of shopping and sightseeing, make your way to the Anokhi Museum of Handprinting where you can try your hand at block printing your shirt. For those looking to get away from the city, book a night at Dera Amer, a campsite that can organise elephant treks through the jungle and facilitate visits to a neighbouring village as well.