It’s hard not to be dazzled and lured by the charm of the Pink City. Welcome to Jaipur, the essential gateway to exploring the most romantic and captivating state of India, Rajasthan.
Why pink? The colour was an extravagant welcoming gesture on behalf of the Maharaja Royal family to welcome the Prince of Wales in 1876, and represents hospitality. While the pink may not be as brilliant in colour in modern day Jaipur, you can still jump in an auto rickshaw and be whirled around the faded but glorious terracotta pink facades of shop fronts, houses and grand palaces.
Make sure to stay in a "haveli" when in Jaipur. This Hindi term refers to a large mansion, and some have been occupied and owned by visiting royalty and feudal lords. Many havelis have been renovated and converted into hotels and B&Bs, but have maintained the wonderful architecture, interiors and styling that reflect the beauty of their era.
Alsisar Haveli - Heritage Hotel
Sansar Chandra Road, Jaipur
This beautiful heritage hotel with grassy lawns and regal façade, is nestled behind an unassuming entrance. Feel like an aristocrat on a weekend jaunt, as you dip your toes in the tree lined swimming pool, with aqua awnings and black and white tiled gazebos. Or sit back in the terrace and enjoy a cocktail at sunset. The rooms are spacious, grand with antique furnishings and carved poster beds. The marble floor tiles are just to die for. Check out the dining room for a sumptuous breakfast or dinner and admire the impressive portrait paintings that line the internal ceiling.
477, Gangapole, Jaipur
With only 10 rooms available, this wonderful hotel has an intimate and peaceful setting. Catch your breath and watch sunsets from the rooftop terrace, or wander through the attached lush garden. This heritage hotel was built 200 years ago by the principal architect responsible for building much of the city of Jaipur. While the white exterior looks a bit unloved, head on inside along the red carpet to the open green court yard and gaze up to the pretty yellow painted ornate rooms.
Right in the heart of the old city, you can find the sprawling City Palace, filled with courtyards, majestic buildings and royalty! The seven-storied palace, Chandra Mahal is used as the official residency of the Maharaja (royal family) of Jaipur. You can visit the ground and first floor which is the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II museum. If you see the King’s flag on top of the palace, it means the king is in residence, if away, the Queen’s flag will be raised.
Take a wander over to Pritam Niwas Chowk, a rectangular courtyard between Sarvato Bhadra and Chandra Mahal. There are four exquisite doorways representing the four seasons: Peacock Gate, representing autumn, Lotus Gate representing summer, Green gate representing spring and the Rose Gate representing the winter season. The colours and beauty of these decorated doors are breathtaking.
Amber (Amer) Fort and Palace
Only 11kms outside of Jaipur, this magnificent fort sits up on the hill overlooking Maota Lake. Inside you can fully explore the four levels of the Amber Palace constructed of red sandstone and marble, each level with a lush courtyard. The interiors have Hindu and Rajput styling, and it is hard not to be blown away by the opulence! It’s only a 10 minute walk up the hill to the entrance, just be mindful of the cheeky goats precariously walking along the barricades beside you, or the beautiful elephants that sadly continue to transport tourists up the hill.
Let your inner child come out to play whilst you marvel at 19 large astronomical instruments, that can be seen with the naked eye. Built by Rajput King Sawai Jai Singh in 1728, Jantar Mantar is a wonderful open-air observatory open from 9am-4:30pm every day and holds a sound and light show every evening from October-February.
51, Sardar Patel Marg, C Scheme, Dhuleshwar Garden, Opp India Post Bhavan, Jaipur
A cool design focused homewares and lifestyle brand store that celebrates Indian craftsmanship. Check out the lovely scarves, bags, contemporary fashion and interesting objects. Pop into their very own café for lunch or early dinner, the all day menu includes produce grown from their own farm or within Rajasthan state, and breads/desserts are made in-house. Open from 12pm-8pm.
Ajmer Road, Ganpati Nagar, Jaipur
One of Jaipur’s leading design destinations, Hot Pink is conveniently located in the gardens of the heritage listed Narain Niwas Palace Hotel. The hotel itself is an interior designer’s dream, with decadent finishes and soft furnishings. The store carries an in-house range of fashion and accessories, and an abundance of flourishing Indian designers in clothing and homewares. Prepare yourself to spend your pretty pennies here.
282, Gramodyog, 1, Sanganer Rd, Jagatpura, Jaipur,
Looking for a special gift to take home? Immerse yourself in a heady collection of handmade paper, stationery and gift cards. Made from cotton waste and rose petals, each process is completed by hand.
9, Yashwant place Ajmer Road, jaipur
A neat concept store, stocking a range of jewellery, fashion and homewares from some of the country’s exciting independent designers. Pick up some really cool minimal but Indie style jewellery from Dhora, handmade by designer, Aavriti Jain.
Opposite GP, M.I Road, Jaipur
This gem of a restaurant has a focus on Mughlai and Tandoori food. Opposite the GPO, the smell of juicy tandoor chicken sticks wafts from the entrance, turning over hot coals to entice passers-by. The inside is a relaxed and inviting atmosphere with indoor greenery and pretty cane furniture. The most tender and tasty tandoor chicken we experienced on this trip. Don’t miss it!
Old Takeaway Jaipur
Shop No- 151, Near Laxmi Complex, MI Road, Jaipur
Next to the old Mosque, this simple takeaway joint with inside eatery will satisfy any meat lover’s dream. Try basically everything, from the chicken sheesh or tandoor, mutton sheesh or a nice helping of biriyani. Authentic food at affordable prices.
Saba Haveli Restaurant
477, Gangapole, Jaipur
It’s hard not to be too biased on this, as we were fortunate enough to have a few dinners whilst staying at this haveli. We know we were onto to a good thing though; one of the big publishing houses held their gala dinner on the rooftop terrace during Jaipur Literature Festival. Let them serve you up a wonderful Indian meal, (chef’s menu will not disappoint), and enjoy a quiet and intimate setting in the internal courtyard.
Peacock Rooftop Restaurant at Hotel Pearl Palace
51 Hathroi Fort Marg, Jaipur
How can you make a good north Indian curry any better? Perhaps enjoying one with a rooftop view! You can visit the Peacock Rooftop Restaurant for breakfast, lunch or dinner. We suggest to head for an early dinner to enjoy a magical Jaipur sunset whilst feasting on an abundance of fragrant meat and vegetarian dishes. Don’t fret if you visit in the cooler months as they treat you with blankets and fire pits to keep you toasty warm. N.B they do not serve alcohol, so consider pre-dinner drinks or night cap venue.
Next Up... Pushkar
Do you have any experiences or recommendations you'd like to share? We'd love to hear your comments and tips too!