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Take awe-inspiring, serenely calm palaces and temples, surround them with a buzzing metropolis where vibrant streets are alive with buzzing motorbikes, incessantly honking buses and scurrying monkeys, drop it all in an arid hill landscape dotted with traditional villages, serve with sizzling temperatures and fiery cuisine, and you have something like Jaipur, a city totally geared towards hosting immersive experiences in a hectic, get-up-and-go culture.
It’s a little like India in a snowglobe. You’ve got all the get-up-and-go attitude of the emerging global powerhouse, as street hawkers and heaving crowds buzz with noise that rises into the hot air with the fragrant odours of street food stalls, and city slickers flock to shiny office blocks.
But you also have sublime, dignified palaces and impressive, tranquil temples that exude a calm grandeur, as elephants and camels drift through ornate archways. Complete the picture with a vibrant arts scene and rich culture, and you’re left with Jaipur, a unique city rich with immersive experiences just waiting to be discovered.
Palaces, Temples and Forts
There a very few places on earth that can boast as many jaw-dropping, majestic forts and palaces as Jaipur. From breathtakingly dramatic mountain fortresses to mysterious floating palaces, there are oases of serene, majestic calm dotted throughout the buzzing landscape.
From the opulent grandeur of the city palace, the striking beehive of the Hawa Mahal, the extraordinarily dramatic Nahargarh perched precariously on a sheer ridge above the city, the elegantly floating Jal Mahal and the lush green Jaigarh Fort, there is so much to explore in Jaipur. Get lost in incredible courtyards and in twisting passageways, in air heavy with the weight of history and royalty.
Jaipur’s food scene pretty accurately reflects it’s fiery landscape and rich, complex mix of cultures. Prepare your self for a fragrant, sensory feast, as the smells of aromatic spices and flavoursome herbs waft through the busy streets. Curry’s from the delicately balanced to the taste bud torching can be found plush restaurants or gritty street-side stalls, and all are worth trying.
Wander through the heaving markets and throw yourself into the hectic throng, try Pani-Puri, a crisp crepe filled with tamarind chutney, chili, a flavoured water known as imli pani, chaat masala, potato, onion or chickpeas. Or go for one of Jaipur’s legendary sweet snacks, the melt in the mouth Mohanthal or the spiraling Saffron Jalebis. There are delicious treats and new discoveries to be made around every corner.
When is the best time to go?
You’d be brave to go in the months from March to July. Scorching daytime temperatures can reach as high as 45 degrees, which combined with the dust and the crowds can make Jaipur a very intense experience. Stock yourself up with water for a trip at this time of year.
To visit Jaipur in the winter, from the months of November through to February, is to guarantee clear blue skies, deliciously warm temperatures and cool evenings (you might even want to pack a jumper). This, unsurprisingly, makes it the tourist high season.
The autumn monsoon season runs between the months of June up until October. However, if you’re in India during these months, Jaipur is as good a spot as there is to be, as the rains fall later in the day, giving you time to avoid the deluge and explore earlier.
Top 10 Must See Jaipur Sites
Amer Fort, or the Amber Fort, is an truly jaw-dropping, incredible sight. Sitting atop a dramatic hillside and overlooking the glassy Maota Lake, huge ramparts and soaring towers, imposing gates and beautiful courtyards constitute this incredible UNESCO World Heritage Site, and to wander through it’s winding passageways, cobbled paths and serenely peaceful courtyards is a transportation back in time.
A 4WD track leads up the hill to the top of Cheel ka Teela, and please, should you visit this stunning fort, use this method, or walk to the main entrance. There are a number of elephant ride operators at the site, but the practices they use are unethical, so we would encourage you to avoid using these.
A striking, fascinating termite mound of ornate windows and beautiful lattices, this iconic, pink-painted palace is a stunning example of Jaipur’s incredible palaces. Creep your way through the dark, narrow passageways, and take in the stunning views allowed by a climb to the top of the palace, where Jaipur sprawls beneath you and the sounds and smells of the city rise in the hot, dusty air to meet you.