Jaipur is the capital of India’s Rajasthan state. It evokes the royal family that once ruled the region and that, in 1727, founded what is now called the Old City, or “Pink City” for its trademark building color. At the center of its stately street grid (notable in India) stands the opulent, colonnaded City Palace complex. With gardens, courtyards and museums, part of it is still a royal residence.
A city known for its vibrant colors, narrow streets bustling with life and to top it all, the city’s historic monuments that boast of its glorious past, chivalry and valor of Rajput kings – welcome to the historic city of ‘Jaipur’. Also known as the ‘Pink City’ owing to its structures built in pink sandstone, the charisma of this cultural city of India continues to lure travelers, history buffs and researchers from different corners of the world. With its array of monuments soaked in the glory of opulence and grandeur of Rajput rulers, Jaipur offers a spectacular journey in its rich past. Let us uncover some of its best places and attractions on this memorable journey.
- Meet the royal lifestyle at city palace
The ‘City Palace’ is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Jaipur, located in the heart of the city. Dating back to 19th century, the palace was built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh. Showcasing a unique combination of Rajput, Mughal and European styles of architecture with an array of courtyards, gardens and special structures built inside the palace complex, the City Palace gives you a deep insight into excellent architectural skills of designers and engineers of the bygone era. Many parts of the palace complex except the ‘Chandra Mahal’, have today been transformed into art galleries and museums displaying the antique collection of armors, costumes, carriages and memorabilia belonging to erstwhile Maharajas and Maharanis; the ‘Chandra Mahal’ inside the palace complex still serves as the home to the royal family of Jaipur. One of the major attractions inside the palace complex are the 4 gateways or ‘pols’ each designed in a unique way symbolizing the four seasons. The beauty of these gates with intricate carvings and floral designs is a visual treat to eyes. A visit to this palace is a must during the Jaipur trip to catch a glimpse at the royal lifestyle of past kings and queens of this historic city.
2. Visit the exceptional architecture of Hawa Mahal
One of the most prominent landmarks of the pink city, ‘Hawa Mahal’ is located very near to ‘City Palace’. Rajput customs used to be very stringent for the royal ladies in the past. Ladies were bound by a strict ‘Purdah System’ and were not allowed to go in public and interact with strangers. In order to enable ladies of royal family observe the day to day life and carnivals celebrated in the streets of the city, without being seen by the common man, Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh, in the year 1799 gave the orders to construct this special monument. Constructed with red and pink sandstone and symbolizing the shape of Lord Krishna’s crown, ‘Hawa Mahal’ is an architectural masterpiece with over 900 intricately carved ‘Jharokhas’ or small windows. These Jharokhas are designed in such a way that they allow proper ventilation of the air in the palace, keeping it cool and air even during peak summers. Brilliant design of this palace makes it one of the ‘Must-Visit’ tourist attractions in Jaipur. When visiting this monument, make sure to go up to the topmost floor that offers panoramic views of the Jaipur city with ‘City Palace’ at one end and ‘Siredeori Bazaar’ at the other end.
3. Visit the Engineering Marvels of Jaipur, The Jantar Mantar Observatory
‘Jantar Mantar’ in Jaipur, is another most famous tourist attraction of the city. Hundreds of historians, astronomers and curious travelers visit this place to get a picture of the astronomical skills of an Indian king during an era when these scientific concepts were very new to Indian society. Holding the status of UNESCO World Heritage site, the monument was built in 1738 by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh, who is believed to have a keen interest in astronomy. The monument houses a unique and impressive collection of astronomical instruments made of stone and brass based on the astronomical design principles of Hindu texts of astrology and modern science; some of the instruments are largest ever built in their categories. Through these instruments, which are fixed on the ground, you can observe various astronomical positions with naked eye. The ‘Samrat Yantra’ in the observatory is the world’s largest sundial and needs a special mention. Boasting of the brilliant architectural, astronomical and cosmological concepts of Sawai Jai Singh, the observatory is indeed an astronomical heritage of the city.
4. Ever evolving art and culture of Rajasthani in ‘Albert Hall Museum’
Acclaimed to be the oldest museum of Rajasthan, the ‘Albert Hall Museum’ is located inside the ‘Ram Niwas Garden’ and was opened to public in the year 1887. Foundation stone of the museum was laid in 1876 by the Prince of Wales, Albert Edward, after whom the museum is named. Beautifully carved arches and domes of the museum constructed with pink sandstone can be noticed from even a far-off distance. A rare collection of ancient artifacts including paintings, weapons, metal and wood craft items, musical instruments, carpets, and costumes and jewelry belonging to different tribes of Rajasthan, can be seen in the museum. What interests more to visitors are the sections exhibiting Rajasthan’s unique henna artwork and puppet collection. The museum is a ‘must-visit’ place in Jaipur for explorers, historians and researchers studying art and culture of Rajasthan.
5. Spend few time observing animals and birds at ‘Jaipur Zoo’
Located at a walking distance from ‘Albert Hall Museum’ in Jaipur, the ‘Jaipur Zoo’ also known as the ‘Zoological Garden’, is a famous tourist attraction, especially amongst kids. Spread across a sprawling area of 33 acres, the Zoo was established under the rule of Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II in 1877. Home to various species of mammals, birds and reptiles; you can spot tigers, panthers, cheetals, hyenas, spotted deer and a variety of colourful birds including white peacock, parrots, babbling lorry and other migratory birds. The crocodile breeding ground in the Zoo is one of the best in the country and is a huge crowd puller. Another interesting attraction of Zoological Garden is its museum exhibiting the unique wildlife of Rajasthan. All in all, a great place to spend half a day amidst tranquil environs and natural greenery. Kids, nature lovers and bird watchers will definitely have a memorable time observing the animals and birds here.
6. Get captivated with the stunning vistas of ‘Jal Mahal’
Also known as the ‘Water Palace’, ‘Jal Mahal’ is situated right in the heart of ‘Man Sagar Lake’, flanked by majestic Nahargarh Hills. Unique location and charming beauty of this palace makes it one of the best photographic sites in Jaipur. Originally, believed to be built by Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh some 300 years back, as a lodge for his duck hunting parties, the palace was renovated by his son later on to beautify its exteriors with courtyards and gardens built in typical Mughal style. Tourists can book boat rides to visit the palace; only the terrace garden is allowed to be accessed by visitors. Stunning views of hills adorned with forts and temples from the terrace of the palace leaves you mesmerized for some time. If you have keen interest in bird watching, the palace gives you ample opportunities to spot flamingos and various other species of migratory birds. In the evenings, when the palace gets illuminated with thousands of flood lights reflecting on the waters of the lake, the sight really captivates your hearts and souls.
7. Get fascinated with artistic brilliance of ‘Amer Fort’
Located in Amer town, at a distance of 11 km. from Jaipur, the ‘Amer Fort’ is one of the most impressive forts of Rajasthan and is visited by an umpteen number of tourists every year. Overlooking the beautiful Maota Lake, the fort is a masterpiece of Rajputana architecture. Built by Raja Man Singh I in 16th century, the fort is a brilliant specimen boasting of a unique blend of Hindu and Rajput elements. Be it the ornamented pillars and delicate mosaic work of the ‘Diwaan-e-Khaas’, splendid ivory and sandalwood work of ‘Sukh Niwas’, elegant frescoes and fascinating latticed work of ‘Ganesh Pol’ or a spell binding work of glass in ‘Sheesh Mahal’ – Amer Fort is incomparable as far as the artistic skills of the artisans and designers of the Rajput era are concerned. Besides the artistic brilliance, the fort also offers you breath-taking views of the surrounding hills and cities. Many famous Bollywood movies such as ‘Mughal-e-Azam’, ‘Jodha Akbar’ and ‘Veer’ have been shot at this enchanting fort. A tourist guide is a must to get an in-depth knowledge of the fort’s minutest details. A visit to ‘Amer Fort’ is incomplete without an elephant ride that is a unique experience in itself. Make sure to reach the fort early in the morning as the rides are available only in mornings to protect these creatures from harsh sun during the noon time.
7. Listen to the tales of glorious past of Jaipur at the ‘Jaigarh Fort’
Overlooking the ‘Amber Fort’ and ‘Maota Lake’, the ‘Jaigarh Fort’ stands tall atop the ‘Cheel Ka Teela’ hill in the Aravali range. Built in the 18th century by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II as a shield to protect Amber Fort and Jaipur city from attack of invaders, the magnificent structure of the fort boasts of opulence of Rajput rulers. Owing to the fact that the fort never witnessed any defeat, it also came to be called as the ‘Fort of Victory’. It is interesting to note that the temples, water reservoirs, and residential complexes inside the fort are still intact and well-preserved. Spread across 3 km. in length and 1 km. in width, the fort was connected to the Amber Fort through secret passages and served as the place to store ammunitions and armoury required for the wars. World’s biggest cannon, the ‘Jaivana Cannon’ is still housed in the fort complex and many tourists flock to the fort to just have a glimpse of it. This fort is also believed to have served as a treasury to the Kachchwaha rulers and many controversies are related to seizure of a huge treasure buried under the fort by the Rajasthan Government. One of the best sightseeing places in Jaipur, a visit to this grand fort cannot be missed during your family vacation in this historic city.
8. Come Uncover the mysteries of ‘Nahargarh Fort’
Overlooking the city of Jaipur, ‘Nahargarh Fort’ is another imposing structure of Jaipur. The scenic Aravali hills serve as a perfect backdrop for this impressive fort. The famous ‘Masti ki Pathshala’ song from the Bollywood movie, ‘Rang De Basanti’, shot at a baori of this fort, has made this place even more popular amongst tourists. Built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II in the 18th century, the Nahargarh Fort along with forts of Amer and Jaigarh, served as a strong defence to the Jaipur city in the past. Major attraction inside the fort is the ‘Madhavendra Bhavan’ that speaks volumes of the Rajput taste for exquisite artwork and craftsmanship. The interiors of the bhavan are beautifully decorated with murals and European stucco designs. Interestingly, the bhavan was used by Raja Sawai Madho Singh as a summer retreat for him and his 9 wives. The temple dedicated to Nahar Singh Bhomia is another interesting site to visit inside the fort complex. Splendid vistas of the Jaipur city and a mystic charm of the sunset from the terrace of the Madhavendra Bhavan; makes this fort all the more an interesting place to visit in Jaipur. The skyline above the fort revels in glory when the fort is floodlit in the night; you must be there yourself to witness this magical scene with your own eyes.
9. Marvel at the spectacular beauty of ‘Kanak Vrindavan’
Also popularly known as the ‘Kanak Ghati’ amongst the locals, ‘Kanak Vrindavan’ is a beautiful garden built in a picturesque valley surrounded by the hills of the Aravali range. Located at a distance of 8 km. from Jaipur towards Amber Fort, the garden complex was built on the orders of Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh, some 275 years back. Resembling the stunning beauty of Vrindavan Gardens near Mathura, ‘Vrindavan’ was added to the name of this valley too and an idol of Lord Krishna was consecrated in a special complex, now called the ‘Shri Govind Deoji Temple’, inside the gardens. With lush green manicured lawns, series of fountains lined up along the pathways, statues of Lord Krishna, Radha and other gopis depicting the scenes from Krishna-Radha Raslila and intricate carvings and an excellent marble work inside the garden complex; the beauty of ‘Kanak Vrindavan’ is indescribable and can surely leave you spellbound. Owing to its stupendous beauty, ‘Kanak Vrindavan’ was chosen as an ideal spot for shooting of the famous Bollywood movie, Lamhe.
10. Have a relaxing time at ‘Sisodia Rani Bagh’
This is another beautiful garden and a famous picnic spot in Jaipur. Built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II in 1728 as a gift for his second wife, Sisodia Rani, the garden is a tranquil spot filled with lush green landscapes dotted with trees and flowers. The architecture of the garden reflects the Mughal style with water channels and fountains running through the garden and merging at the centre. The walls of the garden are adorned with beautiful mural paintings displaying the eternal love of Radha and Krishna. Once a retreat for the royal queen, today can be freely visited by tourists and locals alike. Magical charm of this garden never ceases to captivate the souls of its visitors. Before returning from the garden, pay a homage to Lord Vishnu, Shiva and Hanuman in the temples located nearby.
11. Pay homage in the ‘Birla Mandir’
Located at the foot of ‘Moti Dungari’ hill in Jaipur, ‘Birla Mandir’ is a great piece of beauty and splendour. Built by the famous industrialist family of Birlas in 1988, the name of the temple is prefixed with the word ‘Birla’. Dedicated to Goddess Laxmi and Lord Vishnu, the temple is also popularly referred to as ‘Laxmi Narayan Temple’. Alluring architecture of this magnificent temple makes it one of the most famous tourist attractions in Jaipur. Made of pure white marble, the temple walls adorn the carvings of the scenes of mythology and quotes from Gita. Main highlight of the temple is the images of Laxmi and Vishnu sculpted out of a single piece of marble. Unlike other Hindu temples, the outer walls of the Birla Mandir are decorated with images of famous personalities like Socrates, Buddha and Jesus Christ. The serenity of the place provides you with an extreme sense of peace and solace. Many devotees throng the temple throughout the year but, the crowd gets multi-fold on the occasion of Janmashtmi. Breath-taking splendour of the temple when it glows with thousands of lights in the evenings, captivates everyone with its unmatched charm.
12. Get the blessings of Lord Krishna at ‘Govind Devji Temple’
Located in the City Palace complex with lush gardens surrounding the temple, the ‘Govind Devji Temple’ is dedicated to Lord Krishna and is one of the most revered temples of Krishna outside Vrindavan. The deity of Shri Govind Devji is believed to have been brought by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II from Vrindavan. The position of the temple was set in such a way that the king could get a direct view of the deity from Chandra Mahal. One of the most famous attractions in Jaipur, the temple is visited by many tourists, pilgrims and devotees of Lord Krishna every day. You will be amazed to know that there is a gathering of almost 5000 people during Mangal Aarti, the morning rituals to wake up the lord. Janmashtmi and Holi are the two festivals that see huge rush of devotees in the temple. A visit to this temple is a must during a trip to Jaipur.
13. Brave the monkeys at the ‘Galtaji Temple’
The ‘Galtaji Temple’, located at a distance of 10 km. from the city of Jaipur, is another interesting tourist attraction. Built in the 18th century by the attendant of Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, Diwan Rao Kriparam, the temple is surrounded by the majestic hills of the Aravali Range. Huge number of monkeys roaming around the temple complex, have also given this place, the title of ‘Monkey Temple’. According to the legends, the temple today sits on the site where a great sage ‘Rishi Galav’ performed a rigorous penance for 100 years. Pleased by his prayers, Gods blessed this place with abundance of water. It is for this reason, you will find the temple complex to be beaming with several water ‘kunds’ out of which the ‘Galta Kund’ is considered to be the most sacred. Several pilgrims and tourists flock to the temple to take a dip in the holy waters of the kund. The crowd gets multi-fold on the day of ‘Makar Sakranti’ in mid-January. The splendid architecture of the temple, which is no less than that of a magnificent ‘haveli’, also leaves you awe-struck for few moments. Tranquil settings and captivating views of the city during sunset, makes this temple a ‘worth visit’ for travellers.
14. Get slightly off the beaten track to visit the ‘Jagat Shiromani Temple’
Situated in Amer town, the ‘Jagat Shiromani Temple’ is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, Meera Bai and Lord Krishna. The temple was built during early 17th century in loving memory of the eldest son of Maharaja Man Singh I and his wife Maharani Kanakwati. Splendid architecture of the temple leaves you awe-struck as soon as you get its first sight. Unlike other temples in Jaipur that are made only of one type of stone, ‘Jagat Shiromani Temple’ has extensively been built using sandstone, marble and granite. The architecture of the temple resembles a unique blend of Jain, Hindu and South Indian styles. Believed to have originally been dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the idols of Lord Krishna and Meerabai are supposedly later additions to the temple. Meerabai was the wife of a Mewar king and an ardent devotee of Lord Krishna. According to local tales, during a war between Mughals and Mewar rulers, the Krishna’s idol worshipped by Meerabai was brought to Amer to save it from destruction. The idol was then enshrined along with the idol of Meerabai in the ‘Jagat Shiromani Temple’. The temple is not known to many and is often skipped by tourists in Jaipur. To experience peace and tranquillity, this temple is one of the best places to visit in Jaipur.
15. Explore the royal ‘Chhatris’ of ‘Gaitore’
Located at a distance of 15 km. from the Jaipur city centre, Gaitore is a small valley tucked away on the Jaipur-Amer road. Known to be resting ground for the departed souls of royal Rajput family members, this place falls slightly off the conventional tourist trail. The valley is full of grand marble and sandstone cenotaphs built on elevated platforms and decorated with intricate carvings. Each cenotaph houses a tomb of a royal king who once ruled the city of Jaipur. The quintessential amalgamation of ‘Hindu Temple’ and ‘Mughal Tomb’ architectures of these cenotaphs reminds us of the rich and luxurious heritage of the Kachhwaha Rajput kings. The cenotaph of the erstwhile Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II stands out of the crowd with its beautifully crafted design and patterns of peacock on the base of pure white marble. The scenic charm of the monuments gets elevated with the backdrop of Aravali hills and Nahargarh Fort. For a peaceful time away from the crowded touristy spots in Jaipur, this is an ideal place to visit for couple of hours.
16. Experience an ethnic Rajasthani village culture at ‘Chokhi Dhani’
Located at a distance of 20 km. from Jaipur, ‘Chokhi Dhani’ is an ethnic village themed resort that was established to preserve the art and ethnicity of vibrant Rajasthan. Visited by thousands of tourists every year, this is a great place to get a glimpse of true Rajasthani culture. Always beaming with an aura of festivity where you can indulge in camel and elephant rides, watch heart-rendering acrobat performances, dance with Rajasthani folk dancers, enjoy a colourful puppet show, get an insight in your future by a palm reader, try your hand at a dart game, take a romantic boat ride on the ‘Tal Talaiya’ village lake or relish a sumptuous and authentic Rajasthani meal – Chokhi Dhani will never leave you disappointed. For an incredible shopping experience, head to ‘Kalagram’ or the ‘Artisans Village’ inside the complex where you can shop for Rajasthani handicraft items, ethnic jewellery, traditional tie-n-dye fabric and much more. The Chokhi Dhani resort also offers its visitors with options to spend a night in village houses made of mud and hay, equipped with all modern amenities. A stay in these huts is a lifetime experience giving you a feel of a pure village life. With a soothing ambience, plethora of entertainment activities and mouth-watering Rajasthani cuisine, a visit to Chokhi Dhani is much recommended for every tourist in Jaipur.
Get close to elephants at ‘Elefantastic’
A trip to Jaipur is incomplete without taking an elephant ride. ‘Elefantastic’, situated in the Amber town, is an interesting elephant farm where you can get quite close to these mighty creatures. Run by a small family who have been into the elephant riding business since the 16th century, the elephant farm today serves as a great contributor to the wellbeing of the Indian elephants. Besides just getting the elephant rides, you can indulge in a plethora of fun activities with these trained animals. Take a ride on the back of the elephants and go for a jungle tour, indulge into a shower play with these animals, feed them with their favorite food or even paint and decorate them with natural colors; every experience is going to be fun-filling and enriching at Elefantastic. After having all the fun, relish on the lovely home-cooked Rajasthani meal at the farm.
17. Take an excursion to the ‘Chand Baori’
Located at a distance of 95 km. from Jaipur, ‘Chand Baori’ is a beautiful stepwell built opposite the ‘Harshat Mata Temple’ in the Abhaneri village. Stepwells are an indigenous concept of India that was invented to fight the scarcity of water during drought seasons. Considered to be one of India’s deepest stepwells, ‘Chand Baori’ also served the same purpose of supplying water to the villagers during dry seasons of the year. Built between 8th and 9th centuries, ’Chand Baori’ is one of the most beautiful baoris in Rajasthan with 3500 intricately carved steps arranged in a perfect geometrical symmetry. It is also one of the amazing places for photography in and around Jaipur. Often skipped on the conventional tourist map of Jaipur, this attraction is one of the rare gems of Rajasthan. If time permits, a short visit to the ‘Chand Baori’ is a must during your stay in Jaipur.
18. Shop till your heart’s content at various colourful Bazaars
No trip is complete without indulging in the local shopping experience. The statement holds absolutely true for the vibrant city of Jaipur where your feet automatically starts heading towards its bustling local bazaars. ‘Johri Bazaar’ is a shopper’s delight where you can continuously go on shopping for the ethnic ornamental silver, gold and gemstone jewellery of Rajasthan. ‘Gopalji ka Rasta’ is a narrow street in the Johri Bazaar famous for its jewellery adorned with meenakari work. Don’t forget to drop by at the famous ‘Laxmi Mishthan Bhandar’ to give yourself some rest and to relish on the famous Kachoris of Jaipur. If you are looking for traditional Jaipuri quilts, bed spreads and cushion covers with popular Sanganeri prints, ‘Bapu Bazaar’ is the best area to explore. ‘Tripolia Bazaar’ is another great market that specializes in brassware, lac bangles, bandhni tie-n-dye fabrics, rugs and carpets. For a wide variety of Marble handicraft items, head towards the ‘Chandpol Bazaar’. Traditional Jaipuri ‘Jootis’ await you at the ‘Nehru Bazaar’ bustling with its wide collection of colorful Morris. The list of local bazaars in Jaipur is endless and you can go on shopping till you actually drop.