The Pink city as it is fondly called, it has more shades of brown and grey to offer as you roam about its streets trying to cram in as much as you can, as soon as you can. The pedestrians number as many as a Metro at rush hour with an equal mix of locals, tourists and touts trying to peddle off some trinkets or guide services. Despite the chaos on the roads and the markets which soon recede to the back of your mind filed away under white noise after a first few hours in the city, there is a beauty to this city quite in contrast to the ever beautiful Udaipur or the much calmer Jodhpur. Most tourists come on a whirlwind tour of Rajasthan if not India and barely have time to tick the points on the information sheets leave alone finding new hidden gems skipped by many and treasured by few. Our guide aims to make your life easier with a ready to use guide to discover Jaipur in 24 hours.
Discover Jaipur in the Morning:
The first thing you do after breakfast at your hotel should be making a beeline for the Amer Fort. Though the fort is big enough to accommodate all the tourists in the state and then some more, it is always good to beat the rush and have time to take in the sights. A little late and you might realise that the beautiful craftsmanship on the door is partially hidden by the tourist getting their photos clicked or that wonderful puppet show is surrounded by so many people that you can’t get a peep in. There is an option to take an elephant ride up to the fort (timings depend on the season) which is very popular amongst tourists. We do not endorse it because of the likely toll it takes on the animals though we won’t think too badly of you even if you do take it.
Once inside the Fort it is easy to be bewitched by the grandeur of the place. The intricate glass mosaics of the Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors), the craftsmanship and artistry on the Palace doors or the gold paintings on the ceilings are all reminiscent of a resplendent past. You can easily get around on your own but a hiring a guide means you get to hear stories about each small cranny of the fort. The guides are semi-professional photographers themselves and know where and how to click your next display pic.
Another must do at the Amer fort included a sound and light show which happens in the evening in both Hindi & English, though chances are you might be convinced to give it a miss considering the time paucity and to save up on the commute, unless you’re planning to have dinner at the fort.
Next up is the City Palace & Jantar Mantar where a guide is thoroughly recommended. The present royal family currently resides in the Chandra Mahal wing of the City Palace which is largely restricted for tourists. The other areas of the City Palace which includes the Diwan-i-Khas, Diwan-i-Am, Maharani Mahal & Mubarak Mahal is now largely converted into a museum with exhibits of art, outfits, armoury and other antiques preserved by the Royal Family. The architecture is a culmination of both Rajasthani & Mughal influence due to the political situation of the time. If you are a selfie enthusiast, one with the Palace guards is a must do while there.
The Jantar Mantar, housed in the same complex as the City Palace is an engineering & scientific marvel considering the age and time it was built. An UNESCO World Heritage site, it was built by Maharaja Jai Singh II, a patron of science and mathematics, in the early 18th century. He built five similar observatories during his reign of which the one in Jaipur is the best preserved. Though the history aspect of it is easy to understand, the mechanism of the various geometric structures, half spheres, circular dials and a narrow flight of stairs leading to a steep viewing point not accessible to us, can only be made sense of with the help of a guide.
A short drive ahead will take you to the Hawa Mahal which is perhaps the most photographed structure in the city. Built in the late 1700’s by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh it was meant to offer privacy to the womenfolk of the Royal household who used to watch the city from the ornate windows and latticed balconies.
Discover Jaipur in the Afternoon:
By the time you’re done with the above, hunger would have taken precedence over any other activity. We will call this phase, Discover Jaipur through food.
We would recommend opting for a snacky lunch to both save time and savour the delicious street food and sweets which will leave you comfortable enough to tackle the next item on the agenda, the markets. Laxmi Mishthan Bhandar or LMB at Johari Bazaar is a very popular joint which has enough options on the menu for everyone. Must haves include Pyaaz Kachori, Ghewar, Mawa Kachori and Gulab Jamun, though the various chaats on offer remain a popular option.
There are a lot of markets in Jaipur catering to the various locally crafted and styled mojdi’s (shoes), embroidered sling bags, bandi jackets and kurtas for men to jewellery such as lac bangles women are famous exports from the region. However a note of caution, as with all such markets, a bit of haggling can score you a good deal and save you some buyer’s guilt when you return to your room at night. Johari Bazaar, Tripolia Bazaar, Chandpol Bazaar, Kishanpol Bazaar and Sireh Deori Bazaar are the popular options for street shopping though you can always opt for the Government run Small Cottage Industries Showroom which may end up being a bit pricey but provides the luxury of a comfortable sitting area, home delivery options and peace of mind.
Discover Jaipur in the Evening:
Knowing what’s on offer and how fast time flies while shopping we would estimate that it would be nearing evening by the time you’re done. The best place to watch the sunset is not one of the widely illustrated sunset points on the information brochure but the Padao restaurant at Nahargarh fort which is an open air restaurant with wonderfully arranged seating options providing you the best views of the city. We will go as far as to say, after a long tiring day ticking of the sightseeing list, this will be the place you will treasure the most. The city below stretched as wide and far as your eyes can reach and is dotted with tiny buildings of blue, pink and white.
As the night approaches, the lights flare up on the streets and homes and coupled with the pinkish hue of the setting sun gives a beautiful sheen to the cityscape. There is a cover charge redeemable by drinks and snacks at the restaurant which is primarily self-service. It is a good ploy by the restaurant which might otherwise have a lot of freeloaders taking up the tables without ordering anything. The food however is ordinary and nothing to write home about and your appetite is better served by the Traditional Rajasthani Thali we recommend you to have as the last thing you do to complete your day.
If you wish for a village style setting and some authentic Rajasthani dishes, Choki Dani Village (Tonk) is a very popular option and another long drive away. Chances are that by the time you reach your table, you would have worked up an appetite thinking about the delicious food on offer. It is an all-you-can-eat restaurant with a Rajasthani village setting with the food served right on your plate. If the size of the plate does not intimidate you, the number of food items piling up before you can finish the first one, definitely will. The restaurant also has different performances like puppet shows, traditional dancers and singers, snake charmers, camel rides and many more happening simultaneously. It is a wonderful option if with family or even otherwise with enough things happening to keep you busy.
Another option would be the 1135AD which is located inside the Amer Fort. Perhaps the most romantic restaurant in Jaipur it is however a pricier affair and may not suit every palate. The interiors feature gold-enamelled walls, antique furniture, and majestic chandeliers. The traditional 10-dish Rajasthani thali is complemented by spectacular views of Jaigarh Fort which can make for an amazing evening. However wherever you go, do not forget to try out Dal Baati Churma and Ker Sangri which are traditional delicacies best had here.
After an eventful day you would do well to go back and have a good night’s sleep before your flight out the next day. For a comfortable night’s sleep in the land of Maharaja’s it is recommended you stay at a Heritage hotel for a Royal experience. Oberoi Rajvilas, Taj Rambagh and Samode Palace are all wonderful options. If however Jaipur is amongst the last cities on your list and have had your fill of Palaces and heritage hotels you might wish to stay at the Tree of Life Hotel & Spa or our favourite eco resort in Jaipur, The Treehouse resort which has options for treehouses, and water cottages built on a small personal pools. A fitting end to our guide to Discover Jaipur in 24 Hours.