We bring to you the best of sightseeing, stay, dining, and shopping options in the Pink City.
After a much long wait, the iconic Jaipur Literature Festival has returned to the Pink City with an exciting hybrid model for its 15th edition. This year, the kaleidoscopic programmes of the ongoing JLF has been covering contemporary, real-time issues like Ukraine-Russia conflict and climate change, along with literature, art, travel, and history. Scheduled to run from March 5 to 14, the festival is hosting 400 speakers and performers representing around 15 Indian and 20 international languages and over 20 nationalities.
No wonder JLF sees a roaring footfall every year. If you, too, have arrived (or planning to arrive) in the city to attend the festival, stick around a little longer because Jaipur has a lot more to offer. Bursting with ornate palaces, salmon-hued facades, and imposing forts, the capital city of Rajasthan has been a commercial and cultural hub in northern India for centuries and is one of the world’s most important craft centers, popular for its block-printed cottons, metalwork, hand-painted clay pottery, and fine jewellery. Confused what to do with your spare time here? Keeping this quick guide to Jaipur handy is all you need to do!
A handy guide to Jaipur
Suggested read: Best of the best cafés, restaurants and bars in Jaipur
Where to go
Built in the year 1592, Amer Fort (or Amber Fort) stands like a bastion atop a hill roughly 20 minutes’ driving distance from the heart of Jaipur. Getting to the fort requires a short uphill hike that’s well worth the effort, for the sandstone monolith is a pristine epitome of Rajasthani architecture, with intricate patterns of inlaid marble, spectacular garden courtyards, underground tunnels, and intriguing historical tales. Visit the UNESCO-listed site early in the morning to watch elephants being bathed, or arrive at the Kesar Kyari garden in the evening to witness a spectacular sunset. The nearby colonnaded Nahargarh Fort is another good reason to venture outside the capital.
You just can’t miss the never-ending salmon hued City Palace that has stood at the heart of Jaipur for three centuries, ever since Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II decided to relocate his court from the city of Amer. Still home to Jaipur’s modern-day royal family, the fairytale-like regal abode is a sprawling complex of Rajasthani and Mughal buildings, landscaped lawns, domed rooftops, and more. Explore the seven-storied Chandra Mahal, Mubarak Mahal for its display of costumes and textiles, Armoury dedicated to finely-crafted daggers and swords, Peacock Courtyards, Diwan-i-Am which showcases an exquisite collection of miniature paintings, and Friends of the Museum Bazaar for some high-quality souvenirs. While at it, do visit Hawa Mahal or the Palace of Winds, another eye-catching site in the complex.
Albert Hall Museum
Oldest one in Rajasthan, the Albert Hall Museum boasts an extensive collection of art and historically significant artifacts. Arrive here to witness charming permanent exhibits of an Egyptian mummy, antique coins from different periods of Indian history, miniature paintings, 18th-century costumes worn by royalties, and a peculiar collection of 19th-century clay figures demonstrating all the yoga poses. At night, multicolored lights brighten the exterior of the alluring building, making it look like straight out of royal dream.
Where to stay
The former hunting lodge and royal residence of the Maharajas of Jaipur, Taj-owned Rambagh Palace offers an unbeatable combination of history, heritage, and flawless hospitality. Originally built in 1835, it is one of the country’s most exquisite hotels, sprawling across an area of 47 acres and offering 78 stunningly restored, luxury rooms and suites, with giant beds, grand furnishings, wooden columns to separate living and sleeping quarters, traditional artwork adorning the walls, marble bathrooms, and modern amenities. Experience the best of humble Rajasthani hospitality as well as fine-dining at an array of restaurants and bars, pamper yourself at the award-winning Jiva Grande Spa, and simply, enjoy the pleasures of a regal life.
The 300-year-old Samode Haveli was one of the Pink City’s firsts to turn into a boutique hotel. Think colour-pop pastel interiors, bespoke service, and arguably Jaipur’s most inviting pools! Nestled down a quiet street within the old town’s pink ramparts, the hotel is just a five-minute drive from the city’s main attractions, including Hawa Mahal, City Palace, and Jantar Mantar. Built across many levels around a series of traditional chowks or leafy courtyards with interconnecting waterways, the haveli is a quintessential Indo-Saracenic ancestral home to an aristocratic family. The rooms here retain the exquisite luxuriousness of their regal past while offering guests contemporary amenities. For a truly regal experience book the Sheesh Mahal — a suite of floor to ceiling original coloured glass-work.
Tree of Life Resort & Spa Jaipur
Spacious villas, a huge pool overlooking the Aravalis, a spa offering holistic wellness, an organic garden, and walking trails — Tree of Life Resort & Spa Jaipur has been designed to pamper all your senses. With 13 villas spread over seven acres, the resort does not do weddings or parties, so arrive here for serenity and a luxurious quietude away from the bustle of the city. Laze around at the bell-shaped infinity pool, take a stroll in the Eternal Garden, meditate at The Ganesh Abode & Temple, and spend some quality time at the Serene on the Ridge, an open-air sit out offering a bird’s eye view of the city.
Where to eat
Cafe White Sage
Cafe White Sage is the perfect place in the Pink City to slow down and unwind. Promoting the benefits of vegetarian food, the sustainable cafe by the popular Meraaki Kitchen, with a whiff of freshness, cool decor, upbeat vibe, and concept of responsible farm-to-table dining. The seasonal menu is international, fresh and seasonal and ever evolving, dishing out options like vegetable gyoza, burrata salad, smashed avocado toast, kombucha, and in-house eclectic drinks made with fresh fruit pulp.
If you wish to get transported to the royal past of Rajput grandeur and dine in the grand Amer Fort, arrive at the 1135 AD. Recreating the old-world charm with engraved furniture and grand chandeliers, the restaurant serves Rajasthani and Mughlai cuisine, with age-old palace recipes like laal maas, badam shorba, mushroom galouti kebab and Junglee maas popular as ‘hunter’s delight’. The open-air courtyard, a formal dining room and a private dining space called Sheesh Mahal is perfect for intimate candle-lit dinners. Pro tip: splurge on Thaal-e-Jodha, the finest local vegetarian delicacies served in a traditional silver thali, and you would thank us later.
Bar Palladio Jaipur
A classic Italian cafe and bar inspired by an iconic Venetian café with a Sicilian garden, Bar Palladio Jaipur needs no introduction. Brainchild of its Italian owner Barbara Miolini and designed by Dutch designer Marie-Anne Oudejans, it is located in a restored garden belvedere in the historic Narain Niwas Palace Hotel. Bar Palladio is popular in Jaipur and beyond for its enchanting interiors of turquoise, white and saffron. Little tented pavilions outside are perfect for evening cocktails — pick from a select list of forever favourites including Lulista (a coconut margarita) or the popular Marina Rossa. Gorge on innovative as well as classic dishes like quinoa samosa with minced chicken and ravioli with pumpkin and walnut, minestrone, penne all’arrabiata, spaghetti carbonara, and more.
Where to shop
The state-government-run emporium of Rajasthali, facing Ajmer Gate, is packed with Rajasthani artefacts and handicrafts, including enamelwork, embroidery, pottery, woodwork, jewellery, puppets, block-printed sheets, miniatures, brassware, mirrorwork and more. Before you head out to the city’s famous bazaars, scout out prices here for quality items.
The ever-so-lit bazaars in the Pink City brim with everything from costume jewellery and precious gem stones to embroidered textiles, cobalt blue pottery, and Rajasthani puppets. Stuff your bags with souvenirs from Bapu Bazaar, located just a few blocks southwest of Johari Bazaar in the heart of Jaipur. Don’t forget to take home the famous Mojari footwear, Jaipuri razaai (quilt), bangles made of lac, and traditional Bandhej (tie-die) saree.
A classy, upmarket boutique selling high-quality traditional textiles, what’s there not to like? At Anokhi, get your hands on block-printed fabrics, tablecloths, bed covers, cosmetic bags and scarves, as well as a range of well-designed, beautifully-made clothing that combines Indian and Western influences. Once done shopping your heart out, unwind at the wonderful organic cafe on the premises and a decent bookshop offering a range of classics.