Famously known as the Pink City (the old city is painted pink!), Jaipur is a feast for the senses! In the northern state of Rajasthan, Jaipur is associated with the 'Golden Triangle' tourist trail which consists of New Delhi, Agra (Taj Mahal) and Jaipur. However, one can easily base themselves in Jaipur and be more than satisfied with the rich food, abundance of artisanal handicrafts including block printed and woven textiles and exploring the amazing architectural wonders of world heritage sites. If you are prepared to surrender yourself to the beautiful chaos that is India, you will have a fabulous time exploring this magical city!
Camera - If you're like me and more often than not you settle for your smartphone as a camera, let me tell you...India is definitely a place where it pays to pack a camera! Everywhere you look there is a superb photograph waiting to be captured.
Closed in shoes - Even though its tempting to wear sandals during the day, my advice is to keep the glittery sandals as part of a dinner outfit. Closed in shoes are more practical throughout the day as you explore the city and its surrounds.
Maxi skirts, loose fitting pants and scarfs - Covering up from the harsh sun, mosquitoes and being culturally sensitive is a must.
The Trident Hotel - Located just outside the old city walls, on the way to Amber Fort. The hotel overlooks the Man Sagar Lake and is a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle. You can get around Jaipur (easily and cheaply) from this hotel by walking outside the hotel gate and hailing one of the TukTuks that wait patiently out front. The hotel has modern Indian interiors, excellent customer service and delicious food.
Rambagh Palace - Enjoy drinks on the verandah or treat yourself to a meal in one of their amazing restaurants; you will definitely feel like a maharaja/maharani.
The famous sites of Jaipur; Amber Fort, City Palace and the Hawa Mahal. If you are interested in textiles a visit to the
Anoki Block Printing Museum is a must. You will learn about the rich history and cultural significance of the block printed textiles, see demonstrations of the process and can even try printing yourself. Schedule in a day or overnight trip to Agra to see the breathtaking Taj Mahal, you will not be disappointed! (Tip: It is worth paying for a guide to take you around the Taj Mahal).
Blue Pottery along Amer Road (Mini pot plants make a very cute souvenir)
Bapu and Johari Bazaars for cheap market finds
Gem Palace for something sparkly
Saurashtra Impex a.k.a textile heaven (kantha quilts, dhurrie rugs, embroidery, block prints, antiques, scarfs)
* Jaipur is a treasure trove, so be ready to search, shop and negotiate a good price!
'Shantaram' by Gregory David Roberts. A novel in which a convicted criminal who escaped from prison flees to India. The novel is commended by many for its vivid portrayal of tumultuous life in Bombay.
Room with a view - sunrise over Man Sagar Lake.
Inside the UNESCO world heritage site, Amber Fort.
Cows have right of way in India!
Hawa Mahal, "Palace of the Breeze". It is essentially a high screen wall built in 1799 so the women of the royal household could observe street festivities while unseen from the outside.
Various stages of block printing.
Beautiful indigo dyed block printed textiles drying in the sun.
Until next time India, NAMASTE!