Best things to do in Jaipur
Find out more about those top places in Jaipur
Jaipur, the regal capital of Rajasthan, is India’s most historic and colorful city. At the heart of the city and encircled by castellated city walls lies the phantasmagoria that is the Pink City, whose bazaars are amongst the most enticing in India and whose pink colored buildings are iconic the world over. The most notable attractions are the colonnaded Hawa Mahal, which was designed with a profusion of latticed windows to allow the ladies of the royal household to see the city’s streets but remain unseen themselves, and the City Palace, which still houses the former Rajasthani royal family. Beyond the Pink City, the awe-inspiring Nahargarh fortress offers impressive views of the sprawling cityscape, the monolithic Amber Palace is as decadent as anything in the city center and the dreamlike Jal Mahal provides respite from the city’s buzzing streets and bazaars.
Just beyond the city limits of Jaipur is the vast hilltop Amber Palace, which is one of India’s greatest wonders. The palace-cum-fortress was built from breathtaking sandstone colored pink, golden and orange at the tail end of the 10th century AD and has a dazzling array of attractions. Highlights include the Jaleb Chowk, the main courtyard that was used for displays of military might, the Zenana, which was the living quarters of the maharajah’s concubines, and the Jai Mandir, a vast victory hall with a kaleidoscopic mirrored ceiling. Daily tours leave the city of Jaipur for the palace.
The centerpiece of Jaipur’s dazzling old city is the pastel-hued pink City Palace. Blending Rajasthani and Mughal architectural styles, the palace is an ensemble of striking buildings constructed from the 18th to 20th centuries. While the palace has enough attractions to fascinate any visitor for at least a day, the highlights include the armory, which houses a vast collection of antique weaponry, and the Pitam Chowk, where four elaborate gates represent the seasons. The innermost area of the palace, known as Chandra Mahal, is still the private residence of the former royal family and is off-limits.
Probably the most photographed building in India after the Taj Mahal is the honeycomb-like Hawa Mahal. Rising to what would have been a dizzying five stories during its construction in 1799, the building was built to house Maharajah Sawai Pratap Singh’s harem. Indeed, the building’s most striking feature, it's intricately latticed bay windows, were designed to allow his concubines to see but not be seen.
Opposite the City Palace is likely India’s most unusual historic attraction – the Jantar Mantar, a collection of giant sculptures used to calculate the distances between stars. The complex was erected in the early 1700s and was rightly added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2010 for its unique contribution to the advancement of science. For the best experience, make sure to take a tour as knowledgeable local guides will show you how the various oversized ‘instruments’ work.
Ideally combined with a day trip to the spectacular Amber Palace, Jaigarh is another one of the Jaipur area’s plethora of UNESCO listed attractions. Built in 1726, the hilltop fortress has never been captured and remains one of Rajasthan’s most iconic landmarks. Highlights of the fortress are its architecturally unique watchtowers, which look more decorative than defensive, and Jaya Vana, the world’s largest canon.
Looming over Jaipur is the city’s main fortress, Nahargarth. Built between 1734 and 1868, the fort is one of the iconic images of the city and offers some of Rajasthan’s most breathtaking views. While there is no easy way to get to the top bar a length uphill hike, the fortress will reward you with an atmospheric terrace where you can savor a cold beer and get a bird’s eye view of Jaipur.
Situated in the middle of the tranquil Man Sagar lake is the Jal Mahal, one of India’s most dreamlike palaces. The attraction’s origins remain something of a mystery with historians certain that it was renovated but not built in the early 1700s by Jai Singh II. For decades Jal Mahal was neglected in comparison to Jaipur’s other sites but the newly founded Jal Tarang Project are currently fundraising for much-needed restoration work.