India is a magnificent country. There are many things to do in Delhi, where I lived for nearly half a year. However, I often attempted to find weekend escapes that brought me away from the craziness caused by city-living. Despite my love for the Himalayas, Jaipur quickly became one of my favorite weekend getaways.
Although the ‘pink city’ was more or less, similar to that of Delhi’s urban setting, I thought that it was much more harmonious. Of course, this is mainly because Delhi houses ~20 million people within 16.5 sq mi. Jaipur, on the other hand, has a mere 3 million in a much larger geographic area.
With its vast land, comes various things to do. Luckily for us, my roommate had a long-time friend who resided in this bustling city. Within a weekend, we were able to see the main attractions.
5. Explore Hawa Mahal in The Pink City
True to its name, Jaipur’s old city is painted in various shades of pink- from pale baby pinks to deep purple burgundies. The architecture within the 7 Darwazas/gates seems to take on a life of its own. Inline with Rajasthan’s rich history, buildings within the walled city, no matter how imperfect, all have a unique flavor to it. The streets of the old town were crowded-vendors, merchants and little food stops lined the roads. Women wore the traditional Rajasthan saree, with bright greens and pinks as opposed to the more conservative tones seen elsewhere.
4. Visit Jal Mahal – India’s Floating Palace
Rajasthan is known for its magnificent palaces and sturdy forts. Neemrana Fort Palace is a prime example of the splendid architecture this state offers. If you can’t find time to venture to Neemrana and stay at the royal palace, a stop by Jal Mahal will also do Rajasthan justice.
The floating palace is just a couple minutes’ drive from Pink City. After leaving the confines of the city walls, we parked the car at a little spot opposite a beautiful lake. It wasn’t until we walked across the platform that I realized that there was a magnificent palace atop the Man Sagar Lake.
3. Hike the Formidable Amer Palace
Some of the most famous forts in Jaipur include:
- Amer Palace
- Jaigarh Fort
- Nahargarh Fort
Since they were all relatively similar, we decided upon the most accessible one for our trip. The entrance fee for Amer Fort was RS 20 or so, with camera equipment at an additional RS 5.
The drive up the mountain was filled with monkey encounters. With cars attempting to come in and out of the entrance, we decided to line our vehicle on the side of the mountain and walk up the hill towards the palace fort.
With ‘artistic Hindu style elements,’ the fort was built with red sandstone and marble. Despite weathering five centuries of rain and sun, the palace remains formidable. It overlooks the Maota Lake and offers a great view of the greenery below.
2. Experience Life at a Heritage Resort
Unique to Jaipur and few other cities, these were traditional Rajasthani-inspired villages inclusive of various local activities and cuisine. It was a resort of sorts- with corners showcasing dance, music, puppet acts, and other talents. There were also grounds for theme park-like rides.
All of the attendants wore traditional attire. During dinner time, we were brought to a massive dining hall with servers placing mouth-watering delicacies on our plates.
Although the entrance fee is quite hefty-RS 400 and upwards depending on the inclusion of a meal, it was quite the experience. Some famous heritage resorts include Chokhi Dhani and the Heritage Village.
1. Shop At The Export & Tradeshow
Despite Delhi having some beautiful and cheap markets, the export market in Jaipur seems to offer more affordable products. It would be a shame if I didn’t load my luggage with beautiful Indian attire after visiting the country. The marketplace wasn’t too big- so it was a great way to spend a couple of hours without being overwhelmed as in Delhi. Vendors from across the country sit at their respective booth offering a glimpse into their regional take on Indian wear. A Kurti was generally RS 300/ piece, similar to that in Delhi. Earrings and cheap jewelry were RS 50-100 while sarees ranged between RS 200-500. I found a merchant selling sarees for RS 300/ a piece.
It was a steal!
When visiting Rajasthan, it is easy to get sidetracked by Udaipur or Jodhpur. While these cities are beyond beautiful, Jaipur will surprise you just as much, if not more 🙂 Whether it be Gwalior or Alwar, there are many great places that India has to offer. Here are some of my favorites destinations around New Delhi!