A flamboyant showcase of Rajasthani architecture, Jaipur has long been established on tourist itineraries as the third corner of India’s “Golden Triangle”, along with Agra and Delhi. At the heart of Jaipur lies the Pink City, the old walled quarter, whose bazaars rank among the most vibrant in Asia, renowned for their textiles, jewellery and Rajasthani handicrafts.
The best travel tips for visiting Jaipur
Jaipur’s attractions fall into three distinct areas. At the heart of the urban sprawl, the historic Pink City is where you’ll find the fine City Palace and the Hawa Mahal.
The leafier and less hectic area south of the Pink City is home to the Ram Niwas Gardens and Central Museum, while the city’s outskirts are dotted with a string of intriguing relics of royal rule, most notably Nahargarh Fort, the cenotaphs at Royal Gaitor, and the temples (and monkeys) of Galta.
For all its colour, Jaipur’s heavy traffic, dense crowds and pushy traders make it a taxing place to explore, and many visitors stay just long enough to catch a train to more laidback destinations further west or south. However, if you can put up with the urban stress, the city’s modern outlook and commercial hustle and bustle offer a stimulating contrast to many other places in the state.
The superb palace at Amber provides the most obvious destination for a daytrip, easily combined with a visit to the impressive fort of Jaigarh. Additionally, forts, palaces, temples and assorted ruins from a thousand years of Kachchwaha history adorn the hills and valleys near Jaipur.
Best things to do in Jaipur
Jaipur, often referred to as the "Pink City," is a captivating blend of rich history, vibrant culture, and architectural marvels that offer an array of unforgettable experiences for travellers to indulge in.
#1 Wander The Pink City
At the heart of Jaipur lies Jai Singh’s original city, popularly known as the Pink City, enclosed by walls and imposing gateways. Though certainly not all pink, many buildings here are painted a distinctively rosy colour – one that was actually intended to camouflage the poor-quality materials from which they were originally constructed.
Chromatics aside, one of the Pink City’s most striking features is its regular grid plan, with wide, straight streets, broadening to spacious squares (choupads) at major intersections. Its design was created in accordance with the Vastu Shastra, a series of ancient Hindu architectural treatises.
#2 Seek out the magnificent City Palace
At the heart of the Pink City stands the magnificent City Palace, originally built by Jai Singh in the 1720s and having lost none of its original pomp and splendour. The royal family still occupies part of the palace, advancing in procession on formal occasions through the grand Tripolia Gate on its southern side.
Less exalted visitors enter through a modest gate on the eastern side of the palace that leads into the first of the two main courtyards, centred on the elegant Mubarak Mahal. Built as a reception hall in 1899, the building now holds the museum’s textile collection, housing some of the elaborately woven and brocaded fabrics that formerly graced the royal wardrobe.
On the north side of the courtyard, the Armoury is probably the finest such collection in Rajasthan, a vast array of blood-curdling but often beautifully decorated weapons.
#3 Gawp at Jantar Mantar’s huge astronomical instruments
Immediately south of the City Palace lies the remarkable Jantar Mantar, a large enclosure containing eighteen huge stone astronomical measuring devices. Constructed between 1728 and 1734 at the behest of Jai Singh, their strange, abstract shapes lend the whole place the look of a weird futuristic sculpture park.
It’s a perfect idea to pay for the services of a guide to explain the workings of the observatory, which was able to identify the position and movement of stars and planets, tell the time and even predict the intensity of the monsoon. The most impressive construction is the 27m-high sundial, the Samrat Yantra, which can calculate the time to within two seconds.
The Jantar Mantar is one of five identically named observatories created by the star-crazed Jai Singh across north India, including the well-known example in Delhi. However, his motivation was astrological rather than astronomical.
#4 Marvel at the spectacle of the Palace of Winds
Jaipur’s most instantly recognizable landmark, the Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds) stands east of the City Palace. It’s best appreciated from the outside or from the rooftop of Tattoo Cafe during the early morning, when it glows orange-pink in the rising sun.
Built in 1799 to enable the women of the court to watch street processions while remaining in purdah, its five-storey facade is decked out with hundreds of finely screened windows and balconies. These make the building seem far larger than it really is; in fact, it’s little more than a facade.
The palace still offers superb views over the mayhem of Jaipur below. Once inside, you can climb up the back of the facade to the screened niches from where the ladies of the court would once have looked down.
#5 See a sacred 5,000-year-old image of Govinda at Govind Devji
North of the City Palace is the Govind Devji, the family temple of the maharajas of Jaipur dedicated to Krishna in his character of Govinda, who is considered to be the guardian deity of the rulers of Jaipur. The principal shrine houses a sacred image of Govinda thought to be five thousand years old, which was brought from Vrindavan (near Agra) in 1735.
Rough Guide tip: exit through the north gate and you’ll be in the very pleasant, monkey-filled Jai Niwas Gardens.
#6 Climb to the top of Iswari Minar Swarga Sal
Just west of the City Palace, the slender Iswari Minar Swarga Sal, or Ishwar Lat (HeavenPiercing Minaret), was built by Jai Singh II’s son and successor, Iswari Singh. It celebrates a minor victory over a combined Maratha–Rajput force in 1747 and its summit offers the definitive view of the Pink City.
#7 Take a breather at Ram Niwas Gardens
Immediately south of the Pink City, the wide road leading out from New Gate is flanked by the surprisingly lush Ram Niwas Gardens, named after their creator, Maharaja Ram Singh (1835–80).
Standing sentinel in among these gardens is the florid Albert Hall, while pressing on south again you’ll get to the Museum of Indology. The Pink City is bookended to its north by the looming Nahargarh, while some distance to its east, and over a little rise, is the hugely enjoyable “Monkey Palace”.
#8 See some fine Indian artefacts at the Albert Hall Central Museum
A prominent city landmark, the Albert Hall was built in 1867, exhibiting a whimsical mix of Venetian and Mughal styles (Italian below, Indian on top). Today it houses the city’s Central Museum, with the bulk of its collection focusing on regional and Indian themes.
The collection includes fine displays of Jaipur pottery, Hindu statuary and Mughal and Rajasthani miniature paintings. They are supported by an eclectic array of artefacts from around the globe – everything from Egyptian antiquities to decorative tiles from Stoke-on-Trent, with forays into Japan, Myanmar and Persia.
#9 See a map of India painted on a grain of rice at the Museum of Indology
The Museum of Indology is home to assorted curiosities collected by the late Acharya Vyakul, stuffed into a rambling suburban house. Exhibits include oddities such as a map of India painted on a grain of rice and letters written on a hair. You can also seek out a glass, alongside other artefacts and literary treasures, all enjoyably arranged without any real organisation.
#10 Watch the sunset from the Tiger Fort
Teetering on the edge of the hills north of Jaipur is the dramatic Nahargarh, or “Tiger Fort”, built by Jai Singh II in 1734 and offering superb views of Jaipur, best enjoyed at sunset.
The fort’s imposing walls sprawl for nearly 1 km along the ridgetop and envelop a step-well among other features. Views of the sunset are pretty spectacular, either from the palace rooftop, various ramparts, or the Padao Restaurant, which charges for entry.
The only significant surviving structures within are the palace apartments, built inside the old fort by Madho Singh II between 1883 and 1892 as a love nest. Here he kept his most treasured concubines away from the disapproving eyes of his courtiers and four official wives.
#11 Visit the marble mausoleums of Royal Gaitor
On the northern edge of the city centre, the walled funerary complex of Royal Gaitor contains the stately marble mausoleums (chhatris) of Jaipur’s ruling family.
The compound consists of two main courtyards, each crammed full of imposing memorials:
- The first (and more modern) courtyard is dominated by the grandiose twentieth-century cenotaph of Madho Singh II (d. 1922), a ruler of famously gargantuan appetites. His four wives and fifty-odd concubines bore him “around 125” children;
- The second, older, courtyard is home to the elaborate tomb of Jai Singh II (d. 1743), the founder of Jaipur and the first ruler to be interred at Gaitor.
On the ridge top above Gaitor (reachable via a steep set of stairs) lies the Ganesh Mandir, the second of the city’s two major Ganesh temples. This huge building instantly recognizable from the huge swastika painted on its side.
#12 Watch the playful monkeys at Galta Ji
Nestling in a steep-sided valley, the “Monkey Palace” of Galta Ji comprises a picturesque collection of 250-year-old temples squeezed into a narrow rocky ravine.
Galta owes its sacred status in large part to a freshwater spring that seeps constantly through the rocks in the otherwise dry valley, keeping two tanks full. Surreally, these ponds are now the domain of more than five thousand macaque monkeys, which have earned Galta its nickname.
For many tourists, the sight of splashing locals – the tanks are gender-segregated, and you’ll always see fellas in the upper tank having a good gawp at the ladies down below – outstrips the attraction of the temples themselves. Though the assorted shrines, dedicated variously to Krishna, Rama and Hanuman, are attractively atmospheric.
#13 Chek out Sisodia Rani-ka-Bagh, a royal pleasure palace
On your way to Galta, if you’re going by road, it’s worth stopping off at the small royal pleasure palace and lush gardens of Sisodia Rani-ka-Bagh. They were built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh in 1728 as a gift to his second queen, Sisodia, a princess from Udaipur. The walls of the garden are adorned with Radha-Krishna murals and its design exhibits both Mughal and Indian influences.
Best areas to stay in Jaipur
Jaipur has a wide range of accommodation, and it’s a good idea to book ahead, particularly around the Elephant Festival (first half of March).
Almost all the hotels in Jaipur offer free pick-up from the bus or train station. There are lots of midrange hotels and good quality guesthouses to the west of Jaipur city centre.
Mirza Ismail Rd, known locally as M.I. Rd has a high proportion of places to stay, including some great backpacking hostels. This upmarket suburb is a few km out of the centre itself but easy within easy distance of the main sights. The hotels here are quieter and higher-end.
Browse the best hotels in Jaipur.
Best restaurants and bars
If you’ve overloaded on curries and need a respite, the veggie-friendly Anokhi Café is the perfect tonic; it's attached to the Anokhi boutique, on KK Square Mall. There’s real coffee, fresh juices, terrific cakes and cookies, plus sandwiches, falafels, bean burgers, pizzas and amazing salads.
The city’s most appealing rooftop restaurant is the Peacock (in Pearl Palace hotel, Hari Kishan Somani Marg), with quirky original decor featuring cute metal chairs and a striking peacock canopy – particularly pretty after dark. There’s a big menu of veg and non-veg Indian options, all well prepared, with flavoursome sauces, crisp breads and cold beers, plus Chinese, pizzas and the usual Western snacks.
For a blowout try Suarna Mahal at the Rambagh Palace, Indian fine-dining in a superbly over-the-top Neoclassical-style dining room.
How to get around
Jaipur is very spread out, and although it’s possible to explore the Pink City on foot despite the crowds, you may need some form of transport to and from your hotel. It’s best to avoid travelling during the morning and evening rush hours.
Auto-rickshaws are available all over the city. There are 24hr prepaid kiosks in front of the railway and bus stations, offering rates much cheaper than you’re likely to get on the street
Cars with driver can be rented through most hotels or through any RTDC office.
You’re unlikely to want to navigate Jaipur by bus, but the #AC1 route is quite useful for getting to Amber.
Jaipur’s metro system is quite modern, yet almost comically rubbish; trains on the single Pink Line are extraordinarily slow, and the primary use of most of the nine stations in use seems to be as public toilets for pigeons; in due course, two more stations will be added in the Pink City, which will make the system more useful (but probably still rubbish), and a second line has been proposed.
What is the best time to visit Jaipur?
The best time to visit Jaipur is from October to March when the weather is favourable for exploring its rich history, culture, and architecture. With mild temperatures ranging from 20°C to 30°C (68°F to 86°F) during the day, it's ideal for outdoor activities.
Winter also avoids the scorching heat of summer and heavy rains of the monsoon season. You can fully enjoy attractions like the Amber Fort, City Palace, Hawa Mahal, and vibrant markets.
Additionally, festivals like Diwali and Makar Sankranti add colourful decorations and cultural festivities, offering a unique cultural experience.
Find out more about the best time to visit India.
How many days do you need in Jaipur?
To fully experience Jaipur, it is recommended to spend 2 to 3 days in the city. On day one you can visit the Amber Fort, known for its impressive architecture and panoramic views.
Next day explore the City Palace complex, a blend of Rajasthani and Mughal styles, which houses palaces and museums. End your day by admiring the intricate Hawa Mahal, a palace with unique windows.
Don't miss the bustling bazaars of the old city, where you can find a variety of textiles, handicrafts, jewellery, and traditional Rajasthani items. Take a leisurely stroll through the lanes, soak in the vibrant atmosphere, and savour the local street food.
How to get here
Jaipur is Rajasthan’s main transport hub, with frequent bus and train services to all major destinations around the state, as well as nationwide international air connections.
Short journeys to destinations like Bharatpur, Ajmer (for Pushkar) and towns in Shekhawati are usually best made by bus; one exception is Sawai Madhopur, which is most easily reached by train.
Jaipur’s Sanganer airport is 15 km south of the city centre and is served by a number of international airlines, as well as numerous local carriers. There are regular airport buses to and from town, alternatively, a rickshaw or a taxi
The city’s railway station, Jaipur Junction lies 1.5km west of the Pink City. Bookings for trains should be made at least a day in advance at the reservations hall just outside the main station
State buses from all over Rajasthan and further afield pull in at the Inter-state Bus Terminal (also known as “Sindhi Camp”) on Station Rd. For longer journeys, faster but less frequent deluxe Gold Line (“Volvo”) and Silver Line government services guarantee seats, best reserved through your accommodation.
Many prefer the private buses, many of which leave from roads just south of Sindhi Camp; you can book tickets at the string of agents on Station Rd.
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