I often call Jaipur my second home, and it’s true that I know the city like the back of my hand. A friend who is currently here visiting me often remarks on how effortlessly I get around the Pink City. Indeed, after living here a few years ago and coming back to visit whenever I can, I probably know Jaipur better than any other city in the world! So, I figured it was high time to write a blog post about all of the amazing places to visit in Jaipur.
This ancient fortress is perched on a ridge overlooking Jaipur, about 9 kilometers from the old part of the city. One of the most famous places to visit in Jaipur, you should plan to spend 2-3 hours here to soak in the views, admire the architecture, and snap those Instagram-worthy pics. You can also ride an elephant up the hill to the fort (as opposed to walking), although not everyone may feel ethically comfortable doing this. There are many rooms and courtyards to explore here – my personal favorite is the Jai Mandir (Hall of Victory), with its inlaid panels and multi-mirrored ceiling.
If you want to truly appreciate the history of this amazing palace complex, you may want to hire a guide for 200 rupees (less than $3). I usually prefer to explore on my own, but I’ll admit that the guides here are quite informative. Entrance is 500 rupees ($7) for foreigners and 100 for Indian nationals, except for the night entry, which is 100 rupees for everyone. The fort is open 8 am to 6 pm and the night entry is 7 pm to 9 pm. Do note that, if you wish to ride an elephant, you’ll need to go in the morning because the elephants leave around 11 or 12 pm to avoid working during the heat of the day.
Another one of the best-known places to visit in Jaipur is City Palace, located right inside the Old City. This complex is known for the four seasonal doors of the Pitam Niwas Chowk courtyard. The Peacock Gate depicts autumn, the Lotus Gate signifies summer, the Green Gate represents spring, and the Rose Gate embodies winter. But don’t miss out on the many other exhibits and courtyards in the palace! The Hall of Private Audience is an open-air room with picturesque pink and white arches and glittering chandeliers, along with two enormous silver vessels that the Guiness Book of World Records claims to be the largest silver objects in the world.
Be sure to also check out the impressive collection of weapons in the armoury, the costume and textile gallery in the Mubarak Mahal, and the Diwan-i-Am art gallery. You can also watch live demonstrations of Rajasthani’s famous miniature paintings using a brush with a single squirrel hair! If you like, you can buy a painting (or several) to take with you, although you can find these stunning paintings for less if you visit Pushkar.
City Palace is open 9:30 am to 5 pm and a regular ticket is 500 rupees, although you can also buy a Royal Grandeur ticket for 3000 rupees for a 45-minute tour of select rooms in the occupied part of the palace. Like most other sites in Jaipur, there is a student ticket for those in university that is significantly less, so bring your student ID card if you have one! I would recommend 1.5-2.5 hours, and you can get a human guide if you like (300+ rupees) or an audio guide (200 rupees), although there are plenty of informative signs throughout the palace, so you may not feel the need for any sort of guide.
Wind Palace (Hawa Mahal)
Jaipur’s most distinctive landmark, the Hawa Mahal looks like a pink, 5-story honeycomb, and it was built so that the royal women could watch the processions of the city. Here you can peek out the windows at the bustling bazaar below, as the royals used to do, and soak up the views from the top of City Palace, Jantar Mantar and the old bazaars. And don’t forget to take a photo out front, to prove that you really did visit Jaipur! This is a pretty small and compact site, so you can see everything in 30-45 minutes. It’s open 9 am to 6 pm, with entrance tickets costing 200 rupees for foreigners and 50 for Indian nationals.
Adjacent to the City Palace is Jantar Mantar, an observatory built by Jai Singh II resembling a collection of bizarre, giant sculptures. This site is almost entirely outdoors with little shade, so I’d recommend not going on the hottest day of your time in Jaipur! I highly recommend getting a local guide (200 rupees) or audio guide (100 rupees) if you want to learn how each fascinating instrument works (unless you are an astronomy major or something!) Entrance ticket is 200 for foreigners and 50 for Indian nationals, and the observatory is open from 9 am to 4:30 pm.
If you like shopping (or just have Christmas presents to buy), the bazaars in the old city should be at the top of your list of places to visit in Jaipur. The city is a shopper’s paradise, and commercial buyers come here from all over the world to stock up on jewelry, gems, textiles and crafts. You’ll have to bargain hard, but I’ve included a list below of approximate prices to pay, depending on the quality of each item. If you’re really a shopping fanatic, consider visiting the markets in Pushkar, where prices are even lower, and the haggling is less intense.
Bapu Bazaar is the best spot for textiles such as saris, skirts, “elephant pants,” and kurtas (traditional Rajasthani tunics). Johari Bazaar houses the jewelry shops, selling gold, silver, gems, and highly glazed enamelwork known as meenakari, a Jaipur specialty. Nehru Bazaar also sells fabric, as well as jootis (traditional, often-pointy-toed, slip-in shoes).
When shopping in these bazaars or anywhere else without fixed prices (which is most places in India!) you will need to bargain hard and know how much each item is worth, because sellers jack the prices WAY up for anyone who looks like a tourist. If possible, make friends with a local at your hostel or guesthouse and ask their opinion on how much you should spend for each item on your shopping list. Again, the price can sometimes vary significantly depending on quality, so consider taking photos of items you wish to buy and showing them to a local friend. But here are a few of my general price recommendations:
- Fabric Jootis: 250-300 rupees
- Sandals: 250-300 rupees
- Camel Leather Jootis: 400-500 rupees
- Skirt: 200-300 rupees
- Elephant Pants: 150-250 rupees
- Bangles: 50-300 rupees (depends heavily on style and quality)
- Saree: 700-2000 (the sheer, glittery ones are usually cheapest, with the silk, double-sided saris costing about 2000)
Anokhi Shop (and Cafe!)
If you prefer high-quality textiles at a fixed price, consider going to Anokhi. This shop sells beautiful, hand block-printed fabrics in the form of clothing, bed linens, table clothes, cushions, handbags and more. It’s a good price (especially considering the quality!) and the staff are very friendly and helpful. Plus there are fitting rooms to try on the clothes, unlike in most bazaar shops! I also recommend picking up a few journals or stationary sets here as gifts – they are a steal and SO beautiful! After shopping, grab a coffee or snack (or a full meal) from their adjoining café. The atmosphere is lovely and the food is absolutely delicious, although prices are a little high for India (but still low for the US and Europe!)
Iswari Minar (Isarlat)
For 200 rupees (less than $3), you can climb up this minaret in the Old City to enjoy panoramic views of all of Jaipur. The breeze up here is lovely and it’s quite a relaxing place to rest. I like to come here to catch up on my travel journaling and listen to the call to prayer ringing out from other minarets across the city. The minar as one of the lesser-known places to visit in Jaipur, which makes it feel a bit more intimate and less crowded and touristy! This spot offers the best views over Jaipur (in my opinion), and I highly recommend stopping by.
Albert Hall (Central Museum)
For museum-lovers of all kinds, Albert Hall is one of the most important places to visit in Jaipur! This museum houses a surprisingly-extensive collection of miniature paintings, ancient coins, pottery from all across Asia, sculptures, musical instruments, carpets, textiles, and even an Egyptian mummy! The architecture of the museum is also stunning. Do note that you can’t use a digital camera here, only smart phone cameras. You can breeze through in an hour if you don’t read about any of the artifacts, but others may want to spend two or even three hours here. The museum is open from 9 am to 5:30 pm Tuesday through Sunday, with tickets costing 300 rupees for foreigners and 40 for locals.
If you use Instagram, you’ve probably seen photos of girls in flowing dresses and straw hats at this site. It’s a little bit out of the way (near the airport) but it’s absolutely stunning – and free to visit! If you want photos without the crowd, I recommend going in the morning. The lighting is a bit better then, too!
This large temple is made of pristine white marble and is reminiscent of a small Taj Mahal. Bring your camera to snap some gorgeous shots, but know that you can’t take any photos inside the temple. I like to come here to watch the sunset from the front steps, although it’s less crowded (and maybe more peaceful) earlier in the day. Entrance is free, although I recommend paying 1 rupee to have your shoes stored securely so no one steals them!
Raj Mandir Cinema
If you want to see a Bollywood movie, head to the famous Raj Mandir Cinema for the latest release. The theater is a site to see in itself – it’s elaborately decorated and vaguely resembles a giant pink frosted cupcake! You can order the classic soda and popcorn to snack on during for the film, or you can go the more traditional route with some chai tea and a samosa. Tickets start at 100 rupees ($1.50), although my favorite seats are in the Emerald section for a whopping 155 rupees ($2.25). Unlike in the US, the audience here can get pretty enthusiastic, whistling and whooping and cheering the characters on. I think movies are a lot more fun with this sort of crowd!
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