Jaipur combines elegance and sophistication with incredible forts, picturesque gardens and several palaces that stay in memory long after the tourist has left the city. Founded by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh back in 1727 who was the ruler at the time, Jaipur still includes many signs of the old Rajput imperial rule. The pink city, as it been dubbed following the painting of the city in resplendent pink for a visit of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Albert in 1876, has proudly retained the color throughout the old city though newer parts of the city don't always follow this tradition any longer. Residents of Jaipur have a well earned reputation for caring and consideration of others with Jaipur appearing high on the list of must-see cities in India for many people. Places to Visit in Jaipur Jaipur has a surprising number of places to visit and things to do. There are a couple of museums that will be of interest to those who value local history. The city has numerous palaces and nearby forts that used to protect them and indicate the royal lineage and rich history of the Rajasthan state. The many temples are also frequently visited by Indians who travel far to make the pilgrimage. Museums The Central Museum (also known by its previous name, the Albert Hall Museum) can be found inside the Central Park which is mentioned in the park section in this travel guide. The museum holds an extensive collection of jewelry, metal artwork, sculptures, pottery, marble artwork, and other items. The City Palace is actually a complex of palaces that includes the Mubarak Mahal and Chandra Mahal palaces. The Kachwaha Rajput clan was originally seated in the palace complex. The palace complex in the northeast of the city includes copious courtyards, gardens and various additional buildings. The initial building of the City Palace complex began in 1729 and concluded in 1732. The outer walls came first and each ruler added their own subsequent additions. The architecture within the grounds is visually impressive being designed principally by the chief architect of the royal court, Vidyadhar Bhattacharya, and Sir Samuel Swinton Jacob. As a result of the new buildings, the resulting complex is a mixture of styles from Rajput, Mughal, and Europe. Palaces and Forts Both the palaces and forts in and near Jaipur provide an insight into the history of wars and the need to protect important inhabitants going back hundreds of years. The Amer Fort is one of the most interesting, but the City Palace and the Hawa Mahal is equally impressive and worth visiting too. The Amer Fort and Palace (sometimes also referred to as the Amber Fort) takes 30 minutes to drive out to when coming from the center of Jaipur, but the trip is well worth it. The Fort is situated on a hilltop with the Maota Lake below. The Rajput family lived there until the Jaipur city construction was completed. The Amer Fort has many different palaces to view, a number of attractive gardens, and temples. The entrance to the fort is accessed via a steep hill with some tourists choosing to walk up it, a few riding up by vehicle and some more adventurous ones riding up by elephant. It is now possible to visit the fort at night with a light show set up for visitors. Several of the more prominent structures are lit up at night, making the area look completely different from in the daytime. Buses run regularly from the Palace of the Winds to the fort and taxis can also be used as individual transportation. The City Palace is still a good indication of the wealth of the royal family of Jaipur with its multitude of gardens, courtyards, and other buildings. The construction is a mixture of Mughal and Rajasthani architecture which is unusual and as a result of different periods of construction following the initial construction of a wall around the extensive property grounds. The bright-colored peacocks at the Peacock Gate is one of the standout images that stick with visitors long after they depart. The royal palace is still the home of the royal family who reside in the Chandra Mahal aka Moon Palace. Elsewhere on the grounds of the City Palace is an art gallery where many local artworks can be seen, a museum with related artifacts from the period, and collections of ancient Indian weaponry and royal costumes that are no longer in use. The pink colors used in Jaipur are also most evident with the City Palace and several other buildings on the premises. As mentioned above, there is a city wall of Jaipur which was the first construction in the new city of Jaipur under the rule of Maharaja Jai Singh II. The city wall was constructed in 1727 with a consistent 3 meters thick design and reaching six meters in height. The city wall has a number of gates around the city in order to enter the main city of Jaipur. The gates are: Surajpole Ghat gate Chandpole Ajmeri gate Samrat gate New gate Zorawar Singh Gate Sanganeri gate Jal Mahal Jal Mahal (aka Water Palace) is situated between Jaipur city and Amer Fort. The palace sits on 300 acres with the man-made Man Sagar Lake surrounding it. As a result, visits to the palace are arranged by boat. Both the palace and lake were renovated and increased in size in the 18th century. Rajput-inspired wooden boats made by Vrindavan boat makers are traditionally used for transportation across the water. Once inside the Jal Mahal palace, the Chameli Bagh is at the top with the surrounding Aravalli hills hiding many ancient forts and religious temples nearby. With the improvements, the lake is now deeper by a meter, a water treatment facility was implemented, surrounding wetlands improved, and both vegetation and fish stock was added to the lake. Just seeing the palace in the middle of a lake for the first time is truly impressive. The original Diggi Palace was actually converted into the Diggi Palace Hotel which is available for the public to stay. Originally part of the Thakurs of Diggi (known as Khangarot Rajputs), each subsequent thakurs added to the estate prior to its being partly converted. The remaining Diggi family, including Thakur Ram Pratap Singh Diggi and Jyotika Kumari Diggi, his wife, actually own and operate the hotel too. The Jaipur Literature Festival takes place at this location every year since 2006. The Hawa Mahal or Palace of Winds, is a separate palace that was built in Jaipur as a screen wall tall enough to provide visibility for the women in the royal household to observe the street festivals while maintaining their privacy. The building was constructed in sandstone using pink and red stone. The palace is positioned at the edge of the City Palace, and continues to the Zenana, or woman's chambers, to provide easy access to and from the property. The building was designed by Lal Chang Ustad to appear as a crown of Krishna, a prominent Hindu god. Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh commissioned the building in 1799 as a five-story honeycomb structure with 953 small windows in a latticework design. A face covering requirement existed at the time and the structure allowed the ladies of the court to view outside without being observed. The latticework design allows air to flow in and around the building which was particularly beneficial in the hot summer months. The Jaigarh Fort (also sometimes referred to as the Victory Fort) was built in 1726 by Jai Singh II to protect the Amer Fort that it overlooks. It sits on a promontory known as Cheel ka Teela (Hill of Eagles) within the Aravalli range at a 400 meter height above the Amer Fort. The structure of the fort is not dissimilar to the Amer fort itself with a rugged, appearance. The fort runs north to south with a length of 3 kilometers and an accessible interior of 1 kilometer. A fort cannon, which was the largest ever built at the time, sat on wheels so it could be maneuvered around. The palace complex itself includes Lalit Madir, Vilas Mandir, Laxmi Vilas and Aram Mandir with a museum and an armory. There are subterranean passages that connect the Jaigarh Fort to the Amer Fort. It is possible to walk up the hill from Amer Fort to the Jaigarh Fort, through the Awami Gate and into the Fort Museum. The same walk up the road to Jaigarh Fort also leads to the Nahargarh Fort. Nahargarh Fort stands proudly right on the tip of the Aravali Hills with an enviable view over the Jaipur city below with classic images of the pink city visible throughout. Nahargarh Fort was important strategically for Jaipur because it was once part of the defensive ring that surrounded the city. Originally called Sudarshangarh, the fort later became known as Nahargarh which means abode of tigers. Allegedly, the fort was haunted by Nahar Singh Bhomia who was only pacified when a temple was also built within the fort's grounds which takes his name. Never coming under actual attack, the fort was built in 1734 by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, the actual founder of Jaipur city. Protective walls over nearby hills and its elevated position made the fort an ideal refuge. The period of the Indian Mutiny in 1857 saw a number of Europeans, including the British Resident's wife, relocated to the fort for their protection. The fort was further extended in 1868 by Sawi Ram Singh. Additional palaces at Nahargarh were built by Sawai Madho Singh between 1883 and 1892 with specially created suites intended for the head of state and his queens. Impressive frescoes line some of the corridors which link the rooms together. Temples There are a number of religiously significant temples surrounding Jaipur and overlooking the area. Some are close to the forts which once offered protection from attack. Many of the temples in the region have impressive sculptures in the grounds, buildings and structures. The Birla Mandir temple is one of several Birla mandirs that are located across India. It is a Hindu temple that sits in an elevated position at the bottom of the Moti Dungari Hill in Rajasthan. The temple is also known as Laxmi Narayan Temple. The Birla temple is a significant attraction for visitors to Jaipur. The temple itself is just below the Moti Dungri fort and looks its best in the evening or at night when it gets lit up. The Birla Group of Industries, funded the temple in 1988 as a dedication to Lorn Vishnu and Lakshmi, the wealth goddess. The temple is made of pure white marble with a three domed design indicating three religious approaches. The stained glass is used to display scenes from within Hindu scriptures. Noted deities in the Hindu religion is also evident in the temple construction when walking around and looking closely. Other figures from a mixture of religions, like Christ, Socrates, Buddha, Confucius, and Zarathustra on the exterior walls. Mythological themes and events can be explained within the pretty sculptures carved into the exterior and interior walls that surround the Birla temple. Galtaji is situated 10 kilometers from Jaipur in a small town called Khania-Balaji. This is an old pilgrimage site that spans across several hills around Jaipur built into small crevices. Water tanks known as kunds fill up with a natural spring that flows down the surrounding hills which is used by the pilgrims to bathe themselves. Visitors and pilgrims can each go up the side of the crevasse, past the water pools, to the temple above which affords an excellent view of Jaipur below it. According to local lore, a Saint known as Galav stayed in Galtaji for a time, medicated and performed penance. A second temple, Sun Temple, sits at the highest point in Galta town. It is dedicated to Surya, the Sun God in the Hinduism religion, and was built in the 18th century. The Govind Dev Ji Temple can be found within the City Palace complex, which makes it easy to include on a visit to the latter. The temple was created for Lord Krishna and is just one temple from a collection of temples of Thakur. The Shila Devi temple is one dedicated to the idol of Durga. The temple itself is found within the Amer Fort and can be visited during a visit to the fort. Raja Man Singh I of Jessore (now part of Bangladesh) brought the idol to the temple. It is believed that the same stone was used to create the Dashabhuja idol, Durgapur, before it was stolen. This temple received hundreds of thousands of visitors who come to make offerings to Shila Devi each year. Jaipur Zoo The Jaipur Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in India having been first opened in 1877 on the grounds of the Central Museum (aka Albert Hall Museum). There are two sections within the zoo; one for birds and reptiles, the other for mammals. The zoo has some interesting sights like crocodiles, tigers, leopards, plus gardens with many varieties of fauna too, but it is not as modern as it might be. Raj Mandir Cinema When looking to escape the heat, or rain, for a few hours and watch a Hindi film, the Raj Mandir Cinema is the place to go. There are plenty of Hindi films that regularly show in this cinema. Jantar Mantar The Jantar Mantar monument is actually nineteen astronomical instruments designed as architectural, functional works of art. The monument was built by Rajput King Sawai Jai Singh and finished in 1738. The site has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its significance as the largest stone sundial on Earth. Situated close to Hawa Mahal and City Palace, a visit to Jantar Mantar can easily be included in a trip to this part of Jaipur. The astronomy instrument designed were adopted from Hindu Sanskrit texts and constructed using a combination of stone, masonry and brass to complete each astronomical object. Using these instruments, it is possible to see the astronomical positions using the naked eye alone. The design uses the Ptolemaic positional astronomy techniques which a number of civilizations shared. The monument was damaged in the 19th century, but restoration, including work by local astronomers, as well as engineers, restored the functionality of the instruments. Jawahar Kala Kendra Jawahar Kala Kendra features local arts and crafts from in and around the Rajasthani state. The center is more extensive than one would at first imagine. It actually contains an amphitheater, a library, several museums, art display areas, an art studio, several art galleries, and even a hostel. There is also a theater festival that runs annually. Parks & Gardens in Jaipur Jaipur is blessed with two major parks and three gardens that are worth seeing on a trip to the city. The parks and gardens provide a useful change of scene while in Jaipur, a place to unwind and relax, and even to exercise if one does so early enough or late enough in the day. Central Park Central Park, which is the largest park in the city, has pride of place in the center of the city. The place is a good location to be situated for a few hours as it also benefits from having a golf club and the Rambagh Polo Grounds nearby. The park has been designed with a 5 km track for either walking or jogging, which makes it a good spot to get some exercise in the early part of the morning or in the evening when it is cool enough to do so. Bird life is plentiful in the park, so it's a good place for any nature lovers. Tourists make a beeline for the stone statues, temple and musical fountain in Central Park. Jawahar Circle Jawahar Circle is reputed to be the largest park using a circular design in all of Asia (Malaysia can also lay claim here with their roundabout in PutrJaya that has an impressive diameter of 3.5km). For tourists or locals who wish to walk all around the park, they will need to walk 1,420 meters to do so. Several concentric tracks are included within the park and attractive rose gardens surround it. The park itself is a popular spot for locals to hang out. There is modern exercise equipment, tracks to exercise on, and several musical foundations scattered around the interior. Ram Niwas Garden The Ram Niwas Garden has existed since 1868 when it was built by Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh of Jaipur. The size of the garden is significant with an accessible area of 33 acres or 130,000 m2. The Central Museum (originally called the Albert Hall Museum) is located within the grounds. The Prince of Wales laid the founding stone in 1876 during a royal visit to the park. The garden is also extensive enough to have a zoo, a separate bird park, an art gallery, a gymnasium, an exhibition ground, the Rang Manch Theater, and various drinking and eating places scattered around the park. Sisodia Rani Garden and Palace The Sisodia Rani Garden and Palace is situated about 6 kilometers outside of Jaipur itself, but still within the Rajasthan state. Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II built the garden and palace in 1728. The garden is unusual in its design with gardens on multiple levels, fountains and water-based installations, along with pavilions that are attractively painted. The palace with two floors is located in the highest terrace in the garden. Lord Krishna's life and times are depicted in attractive murals within the palace. There are pavilions and galleries to view when looking around the palace. The palace also featured in the Indian film Lahme in 1991. Kanak Vrindavan Kanak Vrindavan is another of the gardens that can be visited in Jaipur. It is built in a valley location with the Avavali hills on all sides. It is a good stop off to make on the way to see the Amer Fort as it is near the bottom of the Nahargarh hill just 8 kilometers north of Jaipur. Along with the Amer Fort, the Nahargarh Fort and the Jaigarh Fort are also nearby. The garden has been around for more than 275 years and originates from a time when the original complex in the area was created. The garden is designed in a religious manner depicting a religious scene which attracts many visitors here. The garden also includes its own temple, a number of fountains, and intricate marble decorations on the property. Things to Do in Jaipur There are many different things to do when visiting Jaipur. There are several festivals, most of which run at the same month every year and can be included in travel plans. Shopping opportunities in the many bazaars around town will leave you both tired and hungry. When grabbing a bite to eat, there is simple street food which is pleasing or five star Indian restaurants in top hotels that can prepare local dishes for hungry travelers. Festivals The Elephant Festival is an annual festival during March that showcases the elephant, but also horses and camels, along with folk dancers, dressed in an array of vibrant colors. The elephants are typically clothed in bright colors, dressed around the saddle area (known as jhools), and bejeweled too. The female elephants also wear anklets that jingle as they take each step forward. Various events are run during the Elephant festival. This includes elephant polo, a race between elephants, and an English-style tug-of-war between the mighty elephant and 19 brave men and women who fancy their chances pulling against the strength of the majestic elephant. This festival is extremely popular with locals and also manages to pull in many people from outside of Jaipur who wish to experience the festival too. The decision was made both in 2013 and 2014 not to hold the event when People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) objected to the use of colored powder being thrown over the elephants during the events. The Gangaur Festival isn't unique to the state of Rajasthan, it is also celebrated elsewhere within India. Especially popular with women who worship Gauri in the hope of either finding a good husband or ensuring the health and well-being of their respective husbands, the celebration held between March and April every year has a history that goes back over a century. Popular Places to Eat in Jaipur Whilst there are some excellent recommendations below, with eating in Jaipur, much like in the rest of India, it is a good idea to walk around and find the local places that look appetizing. Particularly with the smaller places, they won't be on a tourist map or even have a website, but locals will known where the best eateries are that have opened recently. It is a good idea to get chatting and just ask the local people where they recommend. The prices paid are also likely to be lower too. For breakfast or a mid-morning snack that is pleasing, a place known as Rawat Kachori which can be found on the opposite side of the stand for the bus in Station Road, is a great spot for buying a few onion kachoris. The kachoris here are made with lentils and onions, use a healthier wheat-based pastry and are quickly deep fried. The milk crowns and lassi drinks also come highly recommended there. For the best local laal mass, then the Handi Restaurant which is located opposite the GPO in MI road, is a great place to find. In many cases it will be better food than in the hotel. Choose the roomali bread which is extremely thin for the best eating experience. For a very spicy experience, this bread is ideal. An Indian/Chinese restaurant in Jaipur, the Copper Chimney, which can be found next to Handi and has a strong reputation as the oldest mixed Indian Chinese restaurant in the city. They serve Haka noodles, honey chilli potatoes and crispy okra with garlic, and also northern Indian cuisine too. Over in the older part of the city where the pink buildings dominate the skyline, the LMB (short for Laxmi Mishthan Bhandar) is located in the LMB Hotel at 100 Johari Bazaar and has excellent vegetarian thali in between 16-18 different types. There is also an à la carte dining option available too. For something a little different at dinner, the Islami Kallu Hotel Restaurant at 135 Ramganj Market near the Johari Bazar serves Muslim food with an old style to it like biryanis, kebabs, nihari, spicy curries with fermented bread, and various soups. Very reasonable prices too. Peshawri at the ITC Rajputana Hotel on Palace Road focuses on foods like lentils, breads and hearty kebabs. The food has a northwestern oriented with a basic, distinctive flavor to it. Chokhi Dhani is a popular choice for indoor dining with small dishes that can be brought out to share with a large party of people. Their appetizing dishes include baked dough balls with lentils, and cracked wheat with ghee, dried fruit and sugar. Shopping in Jaipur When interested in shopping in Jaipur, the best suggestion is to head to the various bazaars positioned around the city. In many cases, each bazaar specializes in one type of goods specifically like brass, wood, clay, fabric and other items, but the bazaar usually has other types of items available too. Whether looking for something specific or just wanting to do some casual window shopping, many wonderful hours can be spent moving in and out shops and checking out street stalls to see what you can find. The Johari Bazaar is a great place to go shopping for both precious and semi-precious jewelry. This bazaar has one of the longest histories of all Jaipur. The designs are extremely varied and the choices plentiful, with a wide selection of handmade jewelry. Necklaces using precious gemstones are the most popular items in Johari. Open: 11AM-10PM 7 days a week Lac jewelry is the specialty at the Tripolia Bazaar with many different bangles also to be found here when moving from seller to seller. Textiles using either dye fabrics or bandini tie, many with luxurious embroidery, can be found at the Tripolia Bazaar. Brass-ware, custom carpets and other types of house-ware items can also be found in this bazaar. Open: 11AM-7PM 7 days a week The Chandpol Bazaar is the place for some active street shopping. Handcrafts of all types can be found here with street stalls selling creatively designed shoes, wooden and stone sculptures, turbans, carpets and many other types of unusual items that are ideal for gifts. Marble sculptures in a mix of colors are a key feature of this market. Open: From 11AM 7 days a week. Kishanpol Bazaar is one of the bazaars to head for when looking for textiles as there is a wide range of textile goods at sensible prices. Wooden sculptures that can be bought as local souvenirs can also be found here in ample supply. In fact, the Kishanpol Bazaar has a strong reputation for being the local haunt for artists who are experts in wood carving. Open: From 11AM 7 days a week For some of the best street-based shopping of joothis in a multitude of colors, heading towards the Nehru Bazaar is probably the best idea in Jaipur. A wide range of clothes and textiles available in bulk can be purchased in this bazaar. There is no shortage of vibrant colors to choose between and prices can be negotiated hard to get a bargain. Open: From 11AM 7 days a week. The Sireh Deori Bazaar is a great spot to acquire some leather goods like a carry bag or handbag while in town. There are also leather shoes, knickknacks, and various hangings that can be bought and taken home with you. Some of these items are unique to Jaipur city and cannot be found in other parts of India. Open: From 11AM 7 days a week. Bapu Bazaar is another market that is ideal for shopping for textile goods that will make a real impact. Both Joothis and various textiles are in plentiful supply with good bartering available from local vendors. Other novelty items can be found in this interesting market that is conveniently located on the side of the city that reveals the pink buildings nearby in this older part of Jaipur. Open: From 11AM 7 days a week. If pottery is your thing, then head over to Mirza Ismail Road. The history of clay pot making in Jaipur dates back to the Rajput king era with pots being used around the royal palaces to enhance their attractiveness. The extensive colored pottery available along the Mirza Ismail Road will be impressive for anyone interested in authentic, locally-made pieces of Jaipur pottery to take back home from their travels. If pottery is not your thing, then the same location also has sellers with some wood and brass statues too. Open: 11AM 7 days a week. Best Season to Enjoy a Trip to Jaipur Jaipur is best visited between October and March to enjoy some sightseeing with some cooling breezes around the city during this time. Winter begins in November and finished in February, but be aware that night temperatures can drop as low as 4C. Afternoon shopping trips are best during these cooler months. April to June is the summer period in Jaipur with temperatures that can reach 47C during the hottest time of the day. It is best to wear lighter cotton clothing and ensure you have enough fluids to avoid dehydration during the daytime. July to September is part of the monsoon period in Jaipur with rainfall being commonplace. At the end of summer in June still has good weather, but August is the wettest month to stay in Jaipur. Some hotels include an off-season in their price tariffs, so it is a good idea to look for discounts. Jaipur is a city with so much to offer visitors. Whether you're most interested in attending a local festival, visiting some temples, seeing the palaces and their forts first-hand, or doing some shopping at the many bazaars around the city, Jaipur seemingly has something to offer every visitor.