March 14, 2017
Best known as India’s pink city, there’s more to Jaipur than just mighty forts and stunning palaces. A well-loved destination in India, Jaipur is often on people’s `must see cities’ in India. The capital of Rajasthan, Jaipur is included in tours of the Golden Triangle and most itineraries through Rajasthan. The city can give you a sense of Rajasthan’s rich and impressive royal history with visits to its big draw cards such as the magnificent Amber Fort including the Ganesh Pol, or elephant gate, and dazzling Palace of Mirrors Inside. There’s also Jantar Mantar, one of our favourite monuments in India – with its medieval astrological monuments. And of course, you must see the City Palace and take in the iconic Hawa Mahal, a landmark of the city with with its fabulous pink façade of more than 900 windows.
But once you’ve ticked those off your list, and we do recommend seeing them as they are amazing, here are some of the things we prefer to see and do in Jaipur, away from the tourist crowds. This is how we spend 24 hours in Jaipur, India’s fascinating pink city.
8 a.m. – Start early and head first to see the city’s lively wholesale milk market. Witness where farmers and merchants travel in from outside the city – by bike, bus or car – to sell the day’s freshly gathered milk in huge silver vats. Watch the buyers test the quality by sticking their hands into the milk, time and time again, making sure the milk isn’t watered down, and see families buy large quantities of fresh milk for celebrations or simply to feed extended families. For most of us who are used to buying milk straight from the carton at the supermarket, the wholesale milk market is a real eye opener!
10 a.m. – Dive in the heart of the city and explore Jaipur’s buzzing central market. Right in the centre of the city, the market comprises of hundreds of shops from bangle merchants to padlock sellers and souvenir hawkers who operate from the small, traditional old shops in the pink city. There’s also the narrow and bustling laneways deeper inside the market. Our resident expert guide will show you some of the market’s best kept secrets, introduce you to street snacks including Jaipur’s best kulfi and show you some of the traditional craftsmen still at work in the city. Afterwards spend some time shopping in the market – you’ll easily be tempted by the colourful souvenirs and local goods and handicrafts.
12:30 p.m. – Lunch beckons but before you pause to refuel, have your photo taken by a more than centuries old black and white camera. Not far from Hawa Mahal you’ll find Mr. Tikam Chand with his street side studio, taking photos with his antique, though still functioning, black and white camera. Originally used by his grandfather, the 150-year-old German-made camera still works and you can pose for a picture and watch it develop. You’ll get both your negative and positive image, all processed in a bucket of water in front of you. A great thing to do with children, who find the process fascinating! The photo makes a great souvenir from Jaipur and a family portrait with a twist.
1 p.m. Lunch! Jaipur is now home to several modern cafes serving scrumptious, wholesome fare, while also giving you a break from Indian food. One of our favourites is Jaipur Modern – one of the best places to have organic, healthy, fresh and innovative foods we know in India. It’s cool, modern interior, green-grassed courtyard and quiet space are very inviting. We love their whole menu dedicated to quinoa! The quinoa and beetroot falafels, fresh salads and plunger coffee are all delicious. They also have a gorgeous boutique next to the café featuring beautiful locally-made jewellery, souvenirs, textiles and fashion. A wonderful place to pause during a day of sightseeing or exploring in Jaipur to refuel and shop for treasures in this modern boutique. (Be warned there are many gorgeous items in the boutique that could grab your fancy!)
3:30 p.m. – Depending on the time of the year, the Rajsthani sunshine and heat is probably at its strongest about now, making it a perfect time to retreat to the cinema. Jaipur is home to the iconic pink and blue art deco cinema, Raj Mandir. By western standards the tickets are inexpensive, so head to the cinema and marvel at the magnificent building and see why Indians love Bollywood cinema. If you can allow yourself just to be taken by the experience even until intermission (yes the movie actually stops!), even without subtitles the experience is magic. A packed audience of locals will cheer, stomp their feet and wolf whistle their way through the action, the shirt ripping, the singing and dancing. Bollywood is one of our secret pleasures and a real snapshot of Indian culture.
6 p.m. – The day is not done yet! There’s still time to squeeze in a little shopping at some of the city’s best boutiques. First head to Anokhi with its wonderful range of block printed bedspreads, table clothes and linen as well as a comprehensive range of women’s, men’s and children’s clothing. No visit to Jaipur is complete without stocking up at Anokhi. The cotton printed clothing is so comfortable in summer and beautifully coloured and the children’s wear make great gifts to take home. We also recommend visiting Studio Kassa, one of the boutiques in the new boutique enclave at Hotel Narain Niwas Palace. At Studio Kassa you’ll find hand crafted leather shoes and bags and beautiful jewellery – the products are stunning and they can make to order within a few days. It’s worth a browse in the other boutiques nearby too, you’ll find some interesting and modern fashion, home wares and souvenirs. Also here you will find a number of other small boutique and designer stores worth visiting.
8:30 p.m. – By now you are probably feeling a little weary and ready for a refreshments. Grab one of the outside tables at Bar Palladio, at Hotel Narain Niwas Palace, order a prosecco or cocktail and some of the delicious tapas style items on the bar’s menu. It’s the place to be seen and to see in Jaipur and a perfect way to end your day in this gorgeous, pink city.
India Unbound can create you an original 24-hours in Jaipur itinerary as part of any custom made tour to India that includes a visit to the city. Over a couple of days you can see the main sights of the pink city of Rajasthan, as well as experience Jaipur our way with our Jaipur City Guide. Contact us for more details.
You may also like to read our blog on the best places to splurge on high tea in India.