Now, before I start with the “must-visits”, I must fill you in about Rajasthan. It is the biggest district in India, and it is as diverse as it is crazy. Jaipur is an specially visited city, and it offers the traveler a basic Indian experience. But fear not, because for the travelers who LOVE to find the unexpected, there are places in Jaipur that will take your breath away, and that no one talks about.
As you go deeper into the desert in places like Pali, Pushkar and Jaisalmer, people are more conservative and speak a dozen languages and dialects aside from Hindi: Sindi, Marwari, Dhundhari…. You’ll never finish. But in Places like Jaipur, you can easily communicate in English. Something that is especially noteworthy is that people are beautiful. Their skin is the perfect combination of tan and gold, women have amazing big eyes, and the clothes are so colourful you can’t miss a second of it.
Unlike many places in India, the smell of Jaipur is that of leaves and dry sand. Despite the many crowds you will find everywhere, you will also find cozy spots to settle and admire the greatness of this amazing town, and the way in which people rush everywhere, especially in the main market, where it’s “crush or get crushed” by the large masses.
Markets and Shopping
Jaipur is an excellent place for shopping and you can find an attractive variety of products available. Some of the most popular items are gemstones, silver jewelry, bracelets, clothing, blue ceramics and textiles.
An important thing: NEVER settle for the first price.
Everything may seem cheap, or at an affordable price, but the truth is that bargaining is a lifestyle in India. And people expect you to bargain, so it’s no fun if you simply pay up without opposing some resistance!
Jaipur is not only a city in Rajasthan. It is an experience in itself! It’s one of the most amazing destinations in India if you are looking for a real Asian feel in every way. Also known as the Pink City, is the capital of the state of Rajasthan, India. Built in pink stucco to imitate the sandstone, it is one of the most visited cities in the country, thanks in part to its impressive monuments including the Hawa Majal or Palace of Winds.
It attracts visitors as well as its impressive old buildings, with a very elaborate architecture that serve as a reminder of its royal heritage.
Fort Amber and the Palace
About half an hour’s drive from the city center, like something out of a fairy tale, we find the Amber Fort situated on a hill overlooking Lake Maota. It had been the royal residence, from Rajputa, until the city of Jaipur was built. It contains a series of impressive palaces, lounges, gardens and temples. Inside the elaborate work adds to the greatness. To get the best is to go on an elephant and return by jeep. You can not miss the nightly show of lights.
When visiting this palace one can realize that the royal family of Jaipur was one of the richest in India, the huge complex of courtyards, gardens and buildings mix both Rajasthani and Mughal architecture. Today the royal family lives in the elegant Chandra Mahal (palace of the moon) that borders the courtyard. Within the palace
Today the royal family lives in the elegant Chandra Mahal (palace of the moon) that borders the courtyard. Within the palace complex you can also find museums, art galleries and interesting exhibits of royal costumes and ancient Indian weapons.
“Hawa Mahal” Palace of the Winds
The intricate and fascinating facade of the Palace of the Winds is probably the most recognized building in Jaipur. Built in 1799, it has five floors containing rows of small windows and screens. The wind used to flow through the openings, giving the palace its name. However, most of the holes have been sealed so the wind is no longer part of the Palace. It was built so that the women of the royal house could see the streets without being observed.
Just as good as it looks during the day, is as impressive as it looks during the night!
Jaigarh Fort was built in 1726 and has great appeal for military lovers. Flanked by towering access doors and watchtowers, it contains the world’s largest canyon on wheels. Although the cannon has never been fired either the fort has never been captured and as a result has remained intact throughout its life and is very well preserved. In fact, it is one of the best preserved military structures of medieval India.
It was built in 1734 by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, founder of Jaipur, on the Aravalli hills, as a retreat place. Nahargarh Fort is connected to the Jaigarh Fort through its fortifications. It is believed that the construction of this fort was obstructed by the spirit of a Rathore prince, Nahar Singh Bhomia. However, the spirit was pacified when a temple dedicated to him was built inside the fort. Sawai Ram Singh renovated this fort in 1868.
It is located in the center of the beautiful Man Sagar Lake, and is, in addition to the other palaces of Jaipur, another testimony of the luxury in the way of life of the Maharajas of this city. It was built as a summer palace and as a place of pleasure by Sawai Pratap Singh in the year 1799. The building reflects an excellent technique and a knowledge of architecture surprising for that time.
Today, you can visit in some times (mostly fal and rain season, when it’s at it’s best. If not, it is pretty splendid from outside.
Unseen and amazing:
These are the destinations that may be off-the-books but AMAZINGLY noteworthy. Locals know well of these places, so you can either take a tuk-tuk or find your way around with a map. I’ve listed a few places that may be of interest if you are visiting the famous pink city.
The monkey Temple (Galta Ji- Hanuman Temple)
The temple of Galta is alocated about 10 km from Jaipur and well worth visiting. It consists of several temples and sacred water ponds. Many are the pilgrims who come up here because it is said holy called Galav lived here, practicing meditation and doing penance. Today it is popular because of the number of monkeys it houses happening to be known as the Monkey Temple.
Without doubt the most famous and photographed is the Temple of Galtaji, built in pink stone. The temple has a series of pavilions with rounded roofs, sculpted columns and painted walls. The complex is situated around a natural spring and waterfalls that create two stepped pools, the upper and lower pool, which is used for bathing by pilgrims. It has the peculiarity that it never dries.
NOTE: Be careful with the monkeys. Obviously, they are not vaccinates, and some of them may engage in fights and/or hurt each other. You will even notice that some of them are missing a hand as a battle wound. I am vaccinated agains rabies and could take the chance, but if you are not as comfortable around animals, just stay calm.
Birla Mandir, Jaipur
The Birla Temple is named after a rich family named Birla; To one of its members, in a dream, the god Vishnu appeared to him and said that for the prosperity due to him to continue, it had to construct a temple to him and it should always continue to construct, reason why they are constructed about 5 temples in all India .
This temple is also known as the Laxmi Narayan Temple and is dedicated to the god Vishnu (Narayan) and his consort Laxmi, the goddess of wealth. It is for this last that the temple is known as the temple Laxmi Narayan.
It is made entirely of white marble, with its typical elongated dome, all carved, surrounded by gardens.
Visit at night, it is especially beautiful.
Now, I have to get real here: Jaipur gave me one o the most bitter experiences of all of India. Walking back to my hotel, a man approached me, and said if I was going to my hotel. I ignored him and kept walking, and he followed me for almost a block. I am not a very patient person, so I turned around and asked him what his problem was. In a second, he had his hands all over me, and was pulling me towards an alleyway.
Now, I am Mexican, and I don’t usually take this kind of shit from anyone. So I always carry a knife with myself, and I was all set to actually use it. But it wasn’t necessary, since I just bit his hand and fought him off. Obviously, I reported it to the police, but it was not very effective.
Always be careful. I travel alone, and this was by far the worst exerience I’ve had. And no, it’s not BECAUSE it’s India. This could happen in any country.