Here’s why the pink-hued paradise of Jaipur is your next must-visit destination…
With its kaleidoscope of blushed pinks, dusky mauves, and charmingly faded terracotta hues, Jaipur is just as beautiful in real-life as it is on Instagram. This was the final destination on the group travel tour I just did in India, but it was certainly worth the wait. With its UNESCO-protected palaces, treasure trove of markets and bazaars, and laid-back rooftop bars that are perfect for whiling away the hours, there’s a huge variety of things to do, and that’s without the rose-tinted spectacles. Frankly, you don’t need them here. So, here are my top picks for how you can enjoy the haze of the self-titled ‘Pink City’…
Visit the City Palace
It’s worth visiting Jaipur’s City Palace for the beautiful doorways alone, which are all highly ornate, lavishly decorative pieces which frame the equally beguiling golden doors. As expected, they’re all over Instagram and, as such, it’s tricky to get near them without queuing. My favourite was the peacock-inspired doorway. It’s not all about the ‘Gram however, and the exhibitions are surprisingly fascinating. Explore the rich variety of traditional dress in the textiles exhibition, look at paintings of the various rulers, and marvel at the intricacies of the weaponry exhibition – which was surprisingly enjoyable.
Visit the Palace of the Winds
A visit to Jaipur wouldn’t be complete without a visit to one of the most iconic landmarks in the city, the Hawal Mahal, otherwise known as the Palace of the Winds. It was designed to allow royal ladies to discreetly observe outside life without being seen themselves, as well as allowing cool air to pass through the gaps. The architecture and rich sandstone colours are stunning, and I would have liked even more time to take in all its intricacies. Instead, we were rushing off to our next destination…
Visit the Amber Fort, Jaipur
Jaipur’s Amber Fort may look like it’s incredibly far away when you arrive but, as our guide informed us, it only takes 12 minutes to reach from the street below, albeit up a less than gentle incline. The Amber Palace can only be described as an Instagrammers’ paradise, with its intricately designed decor, jewel-encrusted walls, lush manicured gardens, and breath-taking views of the surrounding scenery – throw in the excellent coffee shop at the end and it really is a winner. Totally breath-taking.
Wander the narrow streets and bazaars
I always think you have to wander the streets of a place to get a real sense of somewhere and the shops and markets in Jaipur are a great starting point. Breathe in the smell of dried chillies, marvel at the kaleidoscope of flowers in the market, order mouth-watering savoury snacks to munch on – perhaps for a trip to the cinema – or buy yourself some made to measure clothing at one of the many bazaars. Take a break with a refreshing cup of masala chai bought from one of the many street vendors.
Watch the sunset from a rooftop bar
Our choice of rooftop restaurant in Jaipur was Dagla. We arrived around five o’clock and enjoyed a deliciously lazy couple of hours sipping on Kingfisher beers watching the sun slowly sinking into the horizon. Service was good, if a little leisurely, but our BBQ chicken and curry was absolutely delicious when it arrived. It was also packed, so if you are planning on going make sure you get a table reserved, or ‘promised.’ I was feeling a little under the weather with the cold and I was delighted to find the equivalent of a ‘hot toddy’ on the menu – this one was hilarious called a ‘Hot Cowboy’ and it was a mix of lemon, ginger, honey and a shot of Jack Daniels. It absolutely hit the spot.
Enjoy the tranquility of Peacock Restaurant
Peacock Restaurant, Jaipur, was the second rooftop café we visited and it was a tranquil haven away from the bustle of the streets below. The décor is worth visiting for alone, with mosaic flooring, glistening brocade tapestries, and a large peacock sculpture at its centre. The atmosphere was laid-back and chill, which was a welcome relief from the frantic hooting of the traffic. With a mix of western and eastern cuisine, friendly service and the kind of opulent bathroom (just one) that you don’t often find in India, is was very much a touch of luxe. It’s not exactly the place to go if you want to mix with the locals – it was full of fellow tourists when we were there – but it doesn’t take away from its charm.