India had never really been on my radar, I didn’t have any interest in visiting there and I certainly hadn’t considered taking the kids. When an opportunity to visit Jaipur all expenses paid came our way, I only had to think about it for a few minutes before jumping at the opportunity. Now I would like to share those experiences here on Janet’s blog and tell you about some of the magical things to do in Jaipur, Rajasthan that we loved. If you happen to be visiting in March, be sure to celebrate Holi here – it’s one o the safest and most colourful cities to celebrate for sure.
To be honest, I knew very little, actually nothing about Jaipur. I quickly started googling and realised there’s quite a bit to see and I really started to get excited about our upcoming visit. We were in Jaipur with Scoot Airlines to shoot a family travel campaign which my 10 year old starred in.
Scoot did an amazing job of showing us the city and below are my top 5 things to do in Jaipur…
Top 5 things To Do in Jaipur
We visited Amer Fort, often referred to as the Amber Fort, on our first day. Located high on a hill about 11 kms from Jaipur. It was our first introduction to hawkers and I have to admit we were a bit overwhelmed. There are two ways to get up to the Fort, via elephant back or by foot and jeep, its a personal choice.
This huge palace complex constructed of red sandstone and white marble was built in the late 1500’s. Jaleb Chowkis is the main entrance to the palace and this is the place where the royal women where able to view this courtyard through the veiled windows. You can go behind the veiled windows and enjoy the view just like the royal ladies did back in the day.
There are a number of gates and entrances leading to different parts of the palace, you could easily explore here all day. We visited during the morning but there is an amazing light show each evening and the show focuses on the history of Jaipur and is presented in both Hindi and English. Definitely worth sticking around for or arriving later in the day and staying to see the show.
Hawa Mahal aka the Palace of Winds was built in 1799 on the edge of the City Palace in Jaipur. It is constructed of red and pink sandstone in the old city of Jaipur which is often referred to as the Pink City.
The best time to visit Hawa Mahal is at sunrise, with the beautiful morning sun shining right on to the facade. If you can get into the building directly opposite you can go up to the rooftop for some spectacular views of not only Hawa Mahal but also the rest of the city. Otherwise dusk is also a nice time to visit.
This area is very traditional and a great place to explore. Much like a traditional Indian bazaar where you can purchase colourful spices full of amazing aromas, there are local people sitting on the ground creating hand made fresh flower arrangements with marigold flowers. This is also a great place to buy colourful scarves for family and friends or saris of all colours to remind you the explosion on colours that is so very Indian. Be careful though, the snake charmers are around and will happily preform for a small donation and the traffic is crazy and very loud. This is also another reason to visit at dawn, its a lot less chaotic and so much quieter without all the car horns.
Built in 1734, this structure is located near the City Palace and Hawa Mahal and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Jantar Mantar is home to the oldest stone sundial in the world, this observatory was built by Maharaja Jai Singh II of Jaipur to compile astronomical tables and to predict the times and movements of the sun, moon and planets. There is a plaque at the site that states the sundial is accurate to within 22 seconds! Pretty impressive.
This is also located directly behind Hawa Mahal so you are able to get a great view of the where the women would have sat watching the world from their veiled windows. This enabled them to sEe out but did not allow the public to see them.
City Palace along with Hawa Mahal and Jantar Mantar were all constructed by Maharaja Jai Singh II, it encompasses Chandra Mahal and Mubarak Mahal other palaces within the main palace complex. It also houses various pavillions, gardens and temples. The City Palace built between 1729 and 1732 occupies one seventh of the old city of Jaipur, the royal family moved from Amer to the City Palace.
Part of the City Palace is still the official residence of the decedents of the royal family. The museum located inside Chandra Mahal houses carpets, manuscripts and other items that once belonged to the royal family.
Another striking feature of the City Place is the richly decorated entrance gates. There are three entrance gates Virendra Pol, Udai Pol and Tripolis Pol, all large enough for an elephant to pass through.
Jal Mahal which means Water Palace is not surprisingly surrounded by water. The palace is located out in Man Sagar Lake in Jaipur and appears to be floating in the middle of the lake. The palace appears to be a single story there are actual a further four submerged levels. The solid stone walls hold back millions of litres of water and the special designed lime mortar has prevented water seepage for over 250 years. Its very serene amongst the chaos of the rest of the city.
Jal Mahal was built in 1750 as a lodge for Maharaja Madho Singh I and his entourage to go duck shooting. It was later used by Maharaja Madho Singh’s son as a summer palace, the breeze across the water would be cooling during the hot Indian summers. We visited for sunrise and it was wonderful, calming and peaceful. We watched the area come alive with the hustle and bustle that we were by then used to in Jaipur.
Jal Mahal is located on the road out to Amer Fort and you will only require about 30 mins to visit this attraction. You are unable to go out to the palace, they ceased romantic gondola rides around the palace approximately 3 years ago. The palace is currently under renovation and will soon open as a exclusive restaurant. One of the most magical things to do in Jaipur, especially at sunset!
Would we return to Jaipur?
In a heart beat! I highly recommend Jaipur, I think it was the perfect place to be introduced to India. We were lucky enough to do a little side trip to Agra and see sunrise at the Taj Mahal. We were going to get the train from Jaipur to Agra but due to flight delays we missed our train and had to organise a private transfer. Seeing the Taj Mahal was the ultimate ‘pinch me moment’, I still can’t believe I was really there. I was determined to visit the Taj Mahal as at the time I was confident that this would be my only visit to India but now I’m not so certain, I would love to go back.
The hustle and bustle and down right craziness of India is unmistakable, I really don’t understand how the unorganised chaos really works but it does seem to, some how. We didn’t experience many of the hassles that you hear about from others, this may have been because we had a film crew and Indian guide with us. I’m not really sure why but we didn’t find the people ‘in our faces’ much at all.
We found the food to be absolutely amazing and no one got sick at all which was a plus. I had expected that we would get sick so we were very pleasantly surprised. The kids did the butter chicken tour of Jaipur and Agra, they ate butter chicken at every restaurant we stopped at. They are now fully fledged butter chicken connoisseurs.
Like this post? Please PIN IT!
My names Sally from our3kidsvtheworld,com. I’m a family travel blogger and I travel with my husband and 3 kids aged 13, 10 and 9 years old. The article above is about how we ended up travelling to Jaipur, India. You can follow our adventures on Facebook or for more India posts read about our experiences at the Taj Mahal.