Say hello to your next dream destination. The pastel pink hues of Jaipur in India will draw you in… while the incredible palaces and rooftop bars make it pop!
Last updated on 10/04/2023
With its kaleidoscope of blushed pinks, dusky mauves, and charmingly faded terracotta hues, Jaipur is as beautiful in real life as it is on Instagram.
It scores high on aesthetics and it’s also rich in history, with fairytale forts, ornate splendour, and breathtaking sights pretty much everywhere you look. Jaipur was the final destination on the group travel tour I did in India, but it was certainly worth the wait.
There’s a huge variety of things to do in Jaipur, from UNESCO-protected palaces, a treasure trove of markets and bazaars tucked away in the labyrinth of streets, and laid-back rooftop bars perfect for whiling away the hours. No rose-tinted glasses are required!
I’ll share my top picks for enjoying the haze of the self-titled Pink City but first up, let’s answer some important questions about Jaipur.
Where is Jaipur?
Jaipur is the capital city of the Rajasthan state of India, which is in the northwest of the country. With a population of 3.1 million, it’s the nation’s tenth most populous city.
The history of Jaipur
Let me give you a whistle-stop tour of Jaipur’s history. Jaipur was founded in 1727 by the ruler of Amer, Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II. It’s had many other rulers over the centuries but, interestingly, Jaipur is one of the only few parts of India that didn’t come under the rule of the British.
Jaipur is also one of the few cities in India that was completely planned from the ground up. It has market areas, canal systems, parks and residential areas that were all carefully planned.
Jaipur is quite unusual in pre-modern cities by the fact of the regularity of its streets. It’s split into six sectors that are divided by broad streets. I can’t say I was aware of this when I was there, but that’s more on me!
One of the biggest moments in the city’s history was in 1876, which is – as you may have guessed – connected to its Pink City of India name.
I’ll talk more about that next!
Why is Jaipur called the pink city of India?
It’s the million-dollar question: why is Jaipur India known as the pink city?
I had some vague notions that it was due to the peachy sandstone buildings that you see throughout the city. It’s not. It’s actually even cooler than that. The entire city was painted pink to welcome Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, way back in 1876.
According to this article, the buildings in the city were either white or sallow yellow before that, which doesn’t really sound all that appealing, does it? Instagram would not be a fan.
And it seems that the maharaja thought the same thing because he ordered for all of the buildings in the city to be painted pink – a shade which symbolises hospitality in India. I just love that. In Scotland where I’m from we have the so-called granite city of Aberdeen where everything is grey. But I much prefer the idea of everything being pink!
The Maharaja also really bought into the idea, so much so that he passed a law in 1877 which made it illegal for the buildings in Jaipur to be anything other than pink. The buildings may now be a bit faded but the pink remains, as does the law!
What is Jaipur famous for?
Aside from its pastel pink hues, Jaipur is also famous for a few other things…
Jaipur is part of the so-called ‘golden triangle’ of India, which also includes Delhi and Agra, where the Taj Mahal is located. If you want to see all of the absolute must-see destinations in India in the least amount of time, then the golden triangle tour is where it’s at.
The entire city is also listed as one of UNESCO’s world heritage sites, which has been the case since 2019. That’s not all, however, as two sites within the city are also UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Those are the Amber Fort and the Janta Mantar, which I’ll cover later.
When is the best time of year to visit Jaipur?
When you choose to travel to Jaipur India is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make.
As with everywhere in India, Jaipur gets incredibly hot in summer. If you’re not great with the heat then that can probably reach levels of unbearable pretty quickly. I did a bit of research before I booked my trip to India and the overwhelming advice seems to be travelling to India between November and March.
Why then? Well, it’s out of the monsoon season and it’s also not in the peak temperatures of summer. Temperatures reach nearly 40°C in April and May which, coming from rainy Scotland, I would struggle with.
I’m adding a caveat to that, however. India does get colder than you may think in December and January – at least in the early mornings. And if you’re on a tour group then a lot of the excursions will take place early on in the day, usually at sunrise. Everything looks beautiful at dawn, right?
With that in mind, I would skip the months in the dead of winter when it’s a little chilly and visit India in November, February or March!
Is Jaipur India safe?
Overall Jaipur is pretty safe. The usual kinds of issues are prevalent here in Jaipur: pickpocketing and scams with meters in taxis where you end up getting charged more for your fare than you should.
However, I never encountered anything dodgy or felt in any way unsafe during my trip to Jaipur. As with anywhere in India, the most risks are attached to solo female travellers. Assaults are something that happens. However, you can mitigate those risks…
Tips for female travellers in India
As a female traveller in India, It’s important to dress appropriately to avoid unwarranted attention. That means covering up your shoulders and ensuring that any skirts or trousers are below your knee.
It’s a good idea not to engage too much with strangers – be polite but firm, and walk away. I would also be mindful about travelling alone at night. It’s much safer to rope in a couple of extra people and go out as a group.
I really enjoyed travelling as part of a group in India. My twin sister and I travelled to India as part of a group travel tour with a travel company called Intrepid, which runs group tours all around the world. So we were never alone! For me, it was the perfect way to relax and enjoy this beautiful and beguiling country… without having to worry about the other stuff.
You can read more about my group travel adventures here
Things to do in Jaipur India
Visit the Palace of the Winds
A visit to Jaipur in India 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.
Built in 1799, the architecture and rich colours of the façade are absolutely stunning. It’s been described as a giant honeycomb, and that’s certainly a good description. It’s hard not to get lost in all its intricacies; I got a creaking neck staring up at it and trying to take it all in!
There are a grand total of 953 windows in the façade of the palace there’s a really interesting story behind it. It was designed to allow royal ladies to discreetly observe outside life without being seen themselves.
They had to obey the strict rules of “purdah” which meant that they couldn’t appear in public without a face covering. What they could do, however, was merrily watch everything going on in the streets below without anyone even having the slightest inclination they were there.
A curtain twitcher’s paradise, right? But the design also has another function. The gaps in the stonework also allow cool air to pass through them, which I would imagine would be very much needed in India!
You might also observe snake charmers outside the palace, but be wary. They’re at a prime tourist spot for a reason, and if they see you taking pictures of them they will ask you for money. Luckily, I managed to sneak this picture for free, but one of my friends on the trip did have to stump up – although you may decide a few rupees is worth it anyway.
Visit the Amber Palace
The Amber Palace – which is also known as Amer Fort or Amber Fort – is probably the most iconic destination to see in Jaipur India. And from looking at it, it’s not hard to see why…
Set in an elevated position on top of a hill it’s almost as if the rest of the city is caught in its metaphorical shadow. With honey-coloured stonework which looks even more inviting against the cornflower blue hues of the sky, the Amber Palace is grandiose splendour… and then some.
The fort also overlooks a lake – Maota Lake – which reflects its features back at itself and also makes for some lovely photo opps.
The history of the Amber Palace
But before I get too caught up in its beauty, let me tell you a little about the history of the Amber Fort. The palace was built in 1592 by Raja Man Singh. It was a residence for the Rajput rulers and their families for many years. One interesting thing to note about the fort is that it’s designed featuring a fusion of Rajput (Hindi) and Mughal (Islamic) architecture.
The fort is located on a hill known as the Hill of Eagles (such a great name) along with Jaigarh Fort. They’re considered to be part of the same complex and are connected by an underground passageway!
It was used in times of war to move the royal family from the Amber Palace to the Jaigarh Fort, which is better set up to defend itself. Pretty neat!
How do you get inside the Amber Palace?
So what can you expect as a visitor at the Amber Palace?
Well, when you arrive on the road outside looks like you’ve got miles and miles to walk. One way to further build the anticipation I guess. However, while it may look like it’s incredibly far away, as our Intrepid tour guide informed us, it actually only takes 12 minutes to reach the Amber Palace from the street below. It is a bit of a steep (and sweaty) incline though.
You can take an elephant ride up to the gates of the palace if you don’t want to walk. However, there are concerns over the welfare of the elephants at Amer Fort, so while it was cool to see elephants up close like this I wasn’t keen to pay for a ride.
What’s it like inside the Amber Palace?
The Amer Fort can only be described as an Instagrammers paradise. It’s all intricately designed decor, jewel-encrusted walls, lush manicured gardens, and breath-taking views of the surrounding scenery.
It’s all about the detail, and I found myself fascinated by everything from the rows of columns to the walls carved and painted with flowers. The beautiful alcoves are also entire works of art in themselves!
Throw in the excellent coffee shop and the Amer Fort really is a winner. One last thing to mention. Like the snake charmers I talked about outside of the Palace of Winds earlier, just be mindful of taking unsolicited photographs during your trip to the Amber Palace.
One woman seemed happy to pose for photographs. However, once I’d snapped away she gestured for money. I completely walked into it and she didn’t ask for a specific amount, but you might not always be so lucky!
Wander the narrow streets and bazaars
Now let’s get back to things to do in Jaipur. I always like to wander the streets of a place to get a real sense of somewhere. Sometimes just taking a tuk-tuk or a bus just isn’t enough, you have to get under its skin.
That’s why I loved exploring the streets of Jaipur India, which are a treasure trove of bazaars. Breathe in the smell of dried chillies, marvel at the kaleidoscope of fresh flowers in the market, or order mouth-watering savoury snacks to munch on – perhaps for a trip to the cinema.
We also got to enjoy watching a batch of masala chai being made for us on the street, which was a theatrical experience in itself. It was a pretty popular place, with lots of people queuing up while we were there, which is always a good sign when ordering masala chai.
It was lovely just to sit down here and watch the bustle of the streets around us for a few minutes or so. The tea was also delicious! I loved masala chai so much that I actually bought some loose-leaf tea at the airport. Here’s to recreating the taste at home…
Visit a factory shop for made-to-measure clothing
Visiting India is also all about made-to-measure clothing.
One of the guys on the trip wanted to get some made-to-order elephant trousers from one of the many fabric shops in Jaipur. That’s how we ended up at Ganesham Textile & Handicraft shop in Jaipur. It was such an amazing experience; the shop was HUGE, with every colour, pattern or texture of fabric that you could ever imagine.
We also crashed a demonstration of how they print all of the fabrics using wooden blocks, which was really cool. I ended up buying a hand-shaped wooden block as a souvenir, and I also kinda wish I got a pair of elephant pants. They’re like the ultimate hipster traveller garment, yes, but they also would have been amazingly comfy for the flight home!
Ganesham Textile & Handicraft address:
Behind Patwar Sangh
Opposite Dussera Kothi Road
Govind Nagar, W, Amer Road, Govind Naga
Jaipur, Rajasthan 302002, India
Enjoy sunset views from a rooftop bar
Want to enjoy some sleepy sunset views of the Amber Fort while you have dinner in Jaipur India? Come along to Dagla – The Rooftop bar and restaurant and you can peep at it all night.
Our choice of rooftop venue came courtesy of a recommendation from our Intrepid host. We arrived at Dagla at around five o’clock and enjoyed a deliciously lazy couple of hours sipping on Kingfisher beers and watching the sun slowly sinking into the horizon. The views were gorgeous. The tranquilly was much welcomed. And the drinks were lovely.
I think this was one of the moments that I just really loved being on the group travel tour. We all had such a laugh chatting about nothing in the late afternoon sunshine, with nothing to do and nowhere to be but right there in that moment. Those were good times.
The ‘Hot Cowboy’ at Dagla
This place also really came through for me, in a rather unexpected way! At the time I was feeling a little under the weather with a cold and a cough that just wouldn’t shift. I was therefore delighted to find the equivalent of a ‘hot toddy’ on the menu here at Dagla. To the uninitiated who may not know about the delights of a hot toddy, so let me explain…
A hot toddy is a hot alcoholic drink that you have to stave off symptoms of illness. It’s usually made with some kind of brown liquor, so whiskey, brandy, or rum. This one on the menu at Dagra was hilariously called a ‘Hot Cowboy’. It was a mix of lemon, ginger, honey and a shot of Jack Daniels.
Honestly, it was exactly what I wanted – and needed – and was absolutely delicious. I actually don’t think you even need to be ill to enjoy it. It really was that good! But that’s enough about me and my cold for now.
Service was good, if a little leisurely, but we weren’t in a rush. The BBQ chicken and curry was absolutely delicious and well worth the wait. It also packed out over the course of the night. If you are planning on going make sure you get a table reserved, or ‘promised.’
Dagla – The Rooftop address:
5th floor Haveli Kalwara
Between Shop 94 and 95
Indira Bazar Rd, Jaipur,
Rajasthan 302001, India
Enjoy the tranquillity of Peacock Restaurant
Breath-taking rooftop views and a laid-back bohemian vibe… what’s not to like about Peacock Restaurant in Jaipur? As soon as I read about it in a blog I knew we had to go.
It was the second rooftop café we visited in Jaipur, and it offered a tranquil haven away from the bustle of the streets below. The décor is worth visiting for alone, with mosaic flooring, glistening brocade tapestries hung from the ceiling, leafy plants dotted around, and, of course, a large ornate peacock sculpture at its centre. Hipster heaven!
The whole vibe at Peacock is super chilled. As far as I recall, they were playing the kind of soothing music that you’d usually hear in a spa.
It was very much a welcome relief from the frantic hooting and honking of the traffic below. You KNOW what I’m talking about, right?
With a mix of western and eastern cuisine, friendly service, and the kind of opulent bathroom that you don’t often find in India, was very much a touch of luxe. I’m not even kidding. After some of the horrific toilet facilities over the course of the trip to India this was such a treat!
It is a little fancier, which I guess means it’s not the kind of place where you’re going to be mingling with the locals. It was full of fellow tourists when we were there, for example – but that doesn’t take away from its charm. For me, it was a welcome change of pace and a calming and peaceful sanctuary away from the madness!
Definitely visit Peacock Restaurant if you’re in Jaipur, you won’t regret it!
Peacock Restaurant address:
51, Hathroi Fort
Hari Kishan Somani Marg
Ajmer Rd, Jaipur,
Rajasthan 302001, India
Visit the City Palace
You will be seriously spoiled by all the grandeur by the time you’ve done all your sightseeing in Jaipur. And if you think the City Palace is beautiful from the outside just wait until you get inside, because it’s absolutely exquisite. In what way? Well, City Palace is famous for its stunning doorways.
City Palace was first established in 1727 when Maharaja Sawah Jai Singh !! moved his court from Amer Fort to this location. It’s long been a residence of the royal family in India and the royal family still live there today.
There are a number of different architectural features making up the complex, from the beautiful courtyards, pavilions, temples and the charming columns of Sarvato Bhadra. I was pleasantly surprised to find a real sense of space here in City Palace.
In fact, I think it was one of the only places in India where we were able to take photographs without other tourists lurking in the background.
The doorways of City Palace
Now let me talk about the doorways. In an inner courtyard in the palace called Pritam Niwas Chowk there are four beautiful doorways.
They’re pretty much reason enough to visit the palace alone. Each doorway in the courtyard represents a different season and Hindu god. Each one is more lavishly decorated than the last, with richly decorative designs framing glistening golden doors, complete with round doorknobs.
As you may expect, the doorways of the City Palace are ALL over Instagram. You can even pick up some tips for how to pose with them from some of the pictures online, or from some the many bloggers and influencers you’ll have to wait in line behind to get a photograph. I think my favourite was the peacock gate, which was just absolutely breathtaking.
However, of course, it’s not just about the ‘gram. The exhibitions inside the City Palace of Jaipur are surprisingly interesting. We wandered around a few, taking in the rich variety of traditional dress in the textiles exhibition, paintings of the various rulers, and the intricacies of the weaponry exhibition – which was actually rather enjoyable. Who knew?
Marvel at the Water Palace in Jaipur
The Jal Mahal – also known as the Water Palace – in Jaipur is pretty special. Not least because it appears to be floating on the water like some kind of mesmerising optical illusion.
Located in the middle of the Man Sagar Lake, the palace was originally constructed in 1750 by Maharaja Madho Singh I. It wasn’t supposed to be this ultra-fancy palace. It was actually intended to be a hunting lodge for his duck hunting parties, hence the water location.
The Maharaja’s son added extra flourishes to the exterior further down the line, such as the courtyard grounds, making the palace as ‘extra’ as possible. It even featured in the 1983’s James Bond film, Octopussy, and you can’t get more old school glamourous than that.
The Water Palace is actually also a bit of an architectural marvel. It looks beautiful, of course, but those are only the parts you can see. Underneath the surface, there are actually four other levels submerged beneath the water level. How cool is that?
Can you go inside the Water Palace?
A great question. As I was writing this blog post I was actually feeling pretty bad that I didn’t get a closer look at the Water Palace by going inside it. However, as it turns out… you can’t!
The Jal Mahal Palace and the Man Sagar Lake have been declared protected areas. That means visiting them is much more limited and tourists can’t access the Water Palace.
Apparently, you used to be able to take romantic boat rides along the lake to get a closer look. But no such luck these days. We enjoyed views of the palace from the banks of the lake after our trip to Amer Fort.
While this was perfectly adequate, it would be lovely to soak up the serenity of the Water Palace closer up! It is part of a major renovation project, however, with talks of hotels being built nearby. Maybe one day in the future we might be able to float right up to this watery wonder again!
What else is there to do in Jaipur?
As I mentioned I was on a group travel tour for my visit to Jaipur.
As is the case with these trips, there’s a pretty tight timetable and often something you see on a blog afterwards where you’re like, dang, I wish I did that. Here’s what I wished I did in Jaipur that I didn’t get a chance to…
Hot air balloon ride in Jaipur
I tell a lie. This was actually on our itinerary as an optional extra.
A hot air balloon ride! What could be more extra than that, right? However, it was pretty expensive so I didn’t do it. It does sound AMAZING, though. If I had my time again I’m not sure I would be as assured in turning it down. So what can you expect from a hot air balloon ride in Jaipur?
Well, just imagine floating over all the amazing locations I’ve spent the last few paragraphs describing. A bird’s eye view of the Amber Palace sounds pretty incredible, right? The hot air balloon rides here normally leave two hours before sunrise, or two hours before sunset.
Either sounds great to me and you can imagine you’d get some pretty spectacular photographs in the mix! The ride takes around an hour but you’ll be there for around three hours in total. Honestly, take me back!
There’s a useful information about hot air balloon trips in Jaipur here
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