Just a few hours away from Delhi, is the city of Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan. It sits on one point of “The Golden Triangle” that comprises of Jaipur, Agra and Delhi. This makes a short trip to Jaipur perfect to see all the best sights in Jaipur. If you have just 24 or 48 hours in Jaipur, you may be wondering how to make the most of your time. Below is our suggested itinerary if you only have one or two days in Jaipur.
One Day in Jaipur
This itinerary will hit all the best sights in Jaipur, most of which are on day one. Therefore if you only have one day in Jaipur then just follow the first day, safe in the knowledge that you have seen the best places to visit in Jaipur.
Depending on where you are staying, you should be able to do this first day independently. The most popular tourist attractions in Jaipur will all be in the morning, and are within a very short walking distance of each other. A driver wouldn’t be able to get that close any way.
In the afternoon, you can catch the bus to the Amber Fort easily, but a driver can be hired for this. We wouldn’t recommend getting a tuk tuk up and hoping to find one coming back as this is quite far out of town and you may struggle to find a return driver.
- 1 Get Tickled Pink By The Paint
- 2 Marvel at Astronomy – Jantar Mantar
- 3 Get Close to Royalty – The City Palace
- 4 Get Behind The Facade- Hawa Mahal
- 5 Lunch
- 6 Step Back in Time – Amber Fort
- 7 Take in The View – Jaigarh Fort and Jaivana
- 8 Monkeying Around – Surya Mandir
- 9 The Victorian Legacy – Albert Hall Museum
- 10 Lunch
- 11 Final Thoughts
Get Tickled Pink By The Paint
The first thing you will notice about the old city of Jaipur is the colour. Is it puce, coral, salmon? Whatever you call it, it is pink. Originally the buildings were slightly pink, well a sort of red, when the city was first constructed, due to the colour of the local sandstone. However, when Prince Albert (The Prince of Wales) was on a royal tour of India in 1876, the Maharajah wanted to do something special for him.
Historically in India, pink was the colour of welcome, and so all the buildings were daubed in the famous rosy blush. The Maharajah’s wife, the Maharani, loved the facelift and so the colour of the city was written into law. As you stroll around the city, enjoy the rosy glow and how it contrasts with the other wonderful bright colours of Indian life.
Marvel at Astronomy – Jantar Mantar
Hidden within the pink walls of Jaipur is a park full of other worldly structures. It is a geometrist’s wet dream.
They aren’t just a Joan Miro painting come to life, they are actually a series of giant instruments for measuring the astrological world. This was a highly advanced set of measuring apparatus, considering it was constructed in the early 18th century by Jai Singh II, the Maharajah. He built similar parks in Delhi as well so if you can’t make it to Jaipur, you have a second chance.
Get Close to Royalty – The City Palace
Next, it is time to delve into the heart of the blushing city, the city palace. Here we see a mix of Mughal and European styles, partly designed by Jai Singh II (remember him!?). The main entrance is in a courtyard where you may quickly attract the attention of school group who are also visiting. The central building houses a small museum full of weapons and clothing.
You then emerge into another area, a large courtyard with an open audience hall in the centre. This houses two giant silver jars called Gangajalis. These are the largest items made of solid silver in the world and must weigh a substantial amount empty. Now imagine them full of water from the Ganges. This is what the Maharajah took with him all the way to the UK for Edward VII’s coronation. (It was he that the city was painted pink for).
Passing through a beautiful gate on the left of the courtyard, you find yourself in another courtyard. Around the edge of this courtyard are stunning mosiac doors. My favourites were the lotus and peacock gates which were alive with brightly coloured tiles.
Weave your way in and out through the rooms surrounding the palace to take in some nice museum pieces and yet more ornate tiling. This may be the jewel in the crown of Jaipur sightseeing, but trust us, there is so much to see, don’t spend all day here.
Get Behind The Facade- Hawa Mahal
Just around the corner from the City Palace is an incredibly striking building. Venturing inside, you will see that the majority of this is just a frontage, but it served a very important purpose.
The ladies of the court weren’t to be seen in public, and so when large parades or festivals took place, they secreted themselves behind this array of windows to watch the party down below. They remained screened from the outside world but could still enjoy the festivities.
Behind the initial, room wide wall, you see the women’s quarters that surround a lovely fountain. The breeze comes through the screened windows and this, combined with the fountain give a sense that it cooler than the street outside. Enjoy exploring this 2D maze of rooms and spotting the cars, people and the odd camel down below.
Here is where your first day of sightseeing in Jaipur divides. The next step is to head out of town and up to the Amber Fort so it is a perfect time to find some food. Luckily, this spot is surrounded by great options.
Head up the third floor for The Tattoo Cafe. From here you will have a lovely rootfop view of the Hawa Mahal. There are lots of western dishes like pizza, burgers and milkshakes if you have had your fill of local options.
If you are after something with a little more local flair, then go around the corner for Govindam Retreat Multi Cuisine Veg restaurant (quite the mouthful). This upmarket vegetarian spot serves curries packed full of flavour and wonderful thalis.
After lunch, jump on bus #5 from the crossroads by the Hawa Mahal. This is the bus from Hawa Mahal to the Amber Fort. It goes every ten minutes and take just short of half an hour. The bus drops you just outside the gates to the lower gardens of the Amber Fort,
Step Back in Time – Amber Fort
The Amber Fort (also known as the Amer Fort) is a little outside the city, in Amer. Disembark the bus, and pass along the paths, through the green grass to reach the first courtyard. From there, you need to climb a large staircase to enter.
The palace is constructed in a series of courtyards. The first one that you enter contains an Italianate garden. When we visited a group of secondary school students were daring each other to dash across it. None of them built up enough courage to do more than jump down into it before scrambling out again a hurry. To one side of the courtyard is a gorgeously intricate temple which contrasts with the garden.
Following the prescribed route, you will continue through more gates to more courtyards. In our honest opinion, the first one is the nicest so don’t rush through it. When you reach the end of the tour, there is a welcome coffee shop selling cold drinks. You may need one for the next stop on the itinerary.
Take in The View – Jaigarh Fort and Jaivana
Up a steep slope which can be traversed on foot, or by elephant (but I wouldn’t recommend that for animal welfare reasons) you find a second fort. The walk takes 15-20 minutes and you will be thankful for that overpriced Mirinda you are clutching.
The fort is a little dustier than its counterpart down the hill but there are some nice rooms showing furniture set up in a typical fashion. And speaking of fashion, there was a small exhibition of palace clothing. We also stopped to watch a traditional puppet show. This was actually very engrossing and very enjoyable.
The view down to the the Amber Fort is lovely and you can pick out the parts you visited from above. Originally Jaigarh Fort was built to protect the Amber Fort, hence the fantastic vantage. In the opposite direction you can take in the whole city.
On the very top of the fort is a huge gun, or cannon if you are feeling fancy. It was the largest cannon on wheels when it was built and it is no surprise that they built a good gun. An incredibly well-known cannon foundry was housed in the fort for many years.
Take in the view, read the plaques and let the sun go down on Jaipur.
By now, you must be exhausted. You have earned a yummy dinner. Jaipur is full of scrummy places to eat.
You could take the chance to try some South Indian cuisine. Dasaprakesh serves up crisp dosa, light veg curries and filling idli. It is based right on the M.I. Road so it is known by most tuk tuk drivers. It’s location near the Albert Hall would make it a good spot for lunch on day two if you have other dinner plans for this evening.
Two Days in Jaipur
if you a two day trip to Jaipur then lucky you, you can see some of the smaller sights dotted around town.
Now it’s time to explore some more of Jaipur’s delights. You can hire a tuk tuk for the day or if you have a little more budget, you could get an air-conditioned taxi. You could try and tackle it all with public transport but will take you a long time that way.
Monkeying Around – Surya Mandir
This small temple’s name translates as the Sun Temple. It is part of a wider Monkey Temple complex and as such is home to several monkeys who skitter about and enjoy the offering left by devotees.
After you are dropped at the base of the hill, there is quite an exposed walk up to the top so bring some water. When you reach the top you’ll step inside the white marble temple.
The temple itself is nice but nothing spectacular. However, this hill is another spot from which you will get a great view of the surrounding city. You can enjoy a little bit of people watching from up here, but you’ll probably enjoy watching the monkey even more. Look closely and you will see them performing acrobatics across the cities rooftops and washing lines.
We weren’t the only ones taking in the view.
Halfway up the hill, if you take the left hand fork in the path, you end up in the actual Monkey Temple complex (Galta Ji) something we entirely missed. Doh! Here you will find the temple to the monkey god Hanuman. The Temple is large, ornate and surrounded by lakes (water tanks). It looks rather lovely, shame we missed it really.
The Victorian Legacy – Albert Hall Museum
Unrelated to the famous Royal Albert Hall in London, this is a museum packed with crafts. Construction began in 1887 when the Prince of Wales laid the foundation stone and was finished in 1887 (the same year its London namesake opened). Architecturally, you will find a very imperial mix of British and Indian design. It is truly a building of the empire age. The outside is multi-layered and has turrets, arches and balconies.
The museum interior is full of textiles, carvings and musical instruments. You can see works made of ivory, crystal and metal. Look out for the adorable series of tiny clay models in various yoga poses.
Outside, you could almost be forgiven for thinking you were in London (albeit on an unusually hot day). Pigeons are everywhere!! The museum’s open courtyard has to be covered in a huge net to protect it from the avian onslaught.
It’s lunchtime, you’ve earned it!
This is a bit of a two for one. You have seen some sights and settled into the rhythms of Indian life, and so it’s time to hit the markets.
You can get some fantastic street food. Just remember to buy from somewhere that is cooking fresh and hot. The bigger the crowd, the fresher the food will be and the less chance there is that you will get struck down by Delhi belly.
Once you’ve filled up on lovely fried snacks, you can wander the streets of the old town to find inexpensive bangles and other costume jewellery. Alternatively, hit M.I Road for fashion shops. This should take you until your train departs, or it’s time for dinner.
Jaipur is a cultural delight, and so close to the capital of India. If you are coming through, please try and make the trip. This two day itinerary for Jaipur should have planning your short trip a little easier. Just top up the sun cream to avoid getting sunburnt, or you’ll blend into the pink buildings in the background of all your snaps!
You can read about some more personal experiences I had in Jaipur here.