High five if you have already planned your vacation to the Pink City of Jaipur. Get ready to be stunned, mesmerised and soaked in the culture of a city that loves new and old at the same time.
Jaipur has embraced the emerging urban trends while retaining the old world charm that has been around since the age of Maharajas. Yes, this crown jewel capital city of Rajasthan is the perfect melting pot of new and old.
Besides being a storehouse of heritage, this city will give you what you want. Jaipur is both in many ways – It is fast, it is slow. It has cheerful bright hues, it has subtle, clear blue skyline. One moment you can be in the middle of a chaotic, bustling bazaar, the next moment you can be left alone. Peaceful, yet chaotic! You always have an option to choose the flavour that you enjoy the most.
Jaipur has opened up completely in the last decade. As the crispy pyaz kachoris made way for the croissants, desi and videsi tourists flonged this historical and shopping paradise.
According to the Rajasthan Government data, for the year 2013-14, over 20% of the total foreign tourists coming to India each year visit Rajasthan. Thanks to presence of an International airport, Jaipur becomes the obvious gateway to Rajasthan for all these tourists. Apart from this impressive foreign tourist arrival, Jaipur also hosts around 33 million domestic tourists each year.
You can easily plan a stay of 3 nights in Jaipur. The conventional things to do in Jaipur remain a visit to Amer fort, City palace, Hawa Mahal, the Moti Dungri temple of the mighty Lord Ganesha and the super imposing Birla temple, made with white marble.
Your visit won’t be complete without a visit to Bapu Bazaar and Johari Bazaar, both connected and just off the main Mirza Ismail Road. These two bazaars are full of traditional Rajasthani textiles – both home furnishings and garments, block printed cotton sarees, Jaipuri suits, dress material for salwar kameez, churidars, hand made mojris or juttis, paintings, showpieces, jewellery and trinkets of a million types!
With the ever increasing inflow of domestic and foreign tourists, the food scene too has changed by leaps and bounds. There are cafes across the city which serve excellent world cuisine. In fact, Jaipur has so many options, you will find a restaurant and hotel that fits your budget nicely – whether you are travelling on a shoestring budget or are in a mood to splurge.
Just a word of caution, since this is a city inhabited mostly by strictly vegetarian Marwaris and Jains, most of the restaurants and cafes, even the new ones, are vegetarian. Its better to check carefully before planning an evening. You can use websites / apps like zomato for all relevant information.
To experience the colourful Rajasthani village life without leaving the comforts of city, head straight to Chokhi Dhani, a village resort on Tonk Road that is just at a 20-minute drive. You can enjoy traditional Rajasthani meals here, folk dances and other traditional performing arts, camel, elephant, bullock-cart ride etc. The place is a must visit if you are travelling with kids. Again a word of caution – evenings, specially on weekends, can be crazily crowded. Check the timings and try reaching early, even more if you are driving down and will have to find parking space. Though they serve traditional Rajasthani meals, you get much better stuff in the city. So you can choose to buy a ticket that does not include the dinner. You can always go to good old places like Niros’ on MI Road for traditional Rajasthani fare.
For commuting within the city, you can just stick to Uber and Ola or a cab booked through your hotel (which will be much costlier than Ola and Uber though). Do not even think of travelling through local city buses. If you love walking, this city is for you. You can have a lovely time walking around the lawns of Statue Circle, the new Vidhan Sabha building and the bazaars.
Plan your Jaipur holiday in the months of October – March if you want to completely enjoy the city on foot. Jaipur, like the rest of Rajasthan, becomes extremely hot in the summer months of May – August.
Metro rail has started but it does not offer full city connectivity as of now. While the metro trains must have brought some relief from traffic to the residents, it has successfully managed to kill and shatter the beauty of the city. Same old boring and ugly concrete pillars of metro rise all over the city. I just wish these pillars and stations were painted with local art graffiti and murals.