Last week, I returned from a 10-day trip to northern India – my first trip to this region. Part of the trip was spent shuffling between Delhi, Agra, and Ranthambore, but a solid five days of it was spent in Jaipur. Affectionately called “The Pink City,” Jaipur lives up to its status as the capital of Rajasthan (literally, the Land of Kings). Originally, I was going to try to condense this post into a “48 hours” writeup, but that really wouldn’t do justice to this city. Already, I’m limiting this post to my “Top 5” sites in Jaipur. If you ever visit, know that each place in this rose-tinted town deserves real consideration. In other words, allow yourself ample time to marvel at things. You’ll need it.
Amber (Amer) Fort
This breathtaking 16th century fort and palace sits high on the hills above Jaipur. In addition to getting a taste of royal life, one can enjoy unobstructed views of the town and surrounding mountains. The hilltop location of the palace makes it accessible by car (fastest…), foot (hardest…seriously, why would you do this?!), or elephant (most fun!). Elephant rides are limited in number and are only offered in the mornings, so get there early. Visitors are allowed into the palace during the day (it stays open until 5:30pm), but you may want to return for a light and sound show offered nightly at 7:00pm, weather permitting. Here, you will get a wonderful view of the palace as it is lit in various colors, while a sound show details the history of Amer and its famous fort.
This observatory was one of my favorite attractions of the whole trip. Not only is it full of amazing astronomical instruments (including an enormous sundial)…but it’s like walking right into an Escher image!
Here lies a palace in the middle of a lake. During the course of your stay in Jaipur, it will be almost impossible NOT to drive past it. Stop and take a photo because really, that’s all you’re permitted to do. Swimming in the lake and direct access to the palace are both prohibited by the government. Still, this is a great picnic spot and is worth a trip both during the day and again at night when the palace is lit up. Also, if you’re lucky, you’ll see them decorating the elephants from the Amber Fort here.
A set of marble mausoleums for past kings and rulers, this is one of the most intricate and tranquil sites of Jaipur. With so few tourists around, one can really sit and take the time to marvel at the architecture, or just enjoy the silence and beauty of the place. I happened to find a furry friend to give me a guided tour. :)
There is more beautiful architecture to be seen in this 18th century temple. However, I must confess that there are two significant reasons why I was able to enjoy this site: 1) I have almost no sense of smell and 2) I love monkeys. If those statements do not hold true for you, skip this place – you probably won’t be able to enjoy it. If you are an anosmic monkey-loving photo fiend, you might be able to overlook the sad fact that this place is quite poorly maintained. Still, the staff (and the monkeys!) are very polite. If you do choose to go, I would advise leaving an extra donation in addition to the entrance fee…they could really use the help.
My words, not surprisingly, fall short of the experience. Hopefully the photos posted here can explain the rest.
(A great way to travel.)