Standing sentinel in the foothills of Jaipur, the Jaigarh Fort has reigned through the centuries as an iconic landmark.
When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable”. Clifton Fadiman wrote this and he is so right.
I visited Rajasthan recently and was shocked to see the place dusty with bullock carts vying with cars for road space and taxi drivers honking continually (Indians love honking horns). With no room to breathe, I felt absolutely lost.
However, people in this part of the world are not in the least bothered by this kind of commotion. Life is very colourful here in Jaipur, the Pink City of India. Located in the north-western corner of this huge country, Jaipur is famous for opulent palaces and historical forts. I was visiting Rajasthan to attend the famous Jaipur Literature Festival at the Diggi Palace Hotel.
However, Jaipur has a lot more to offer besides the annual literature festival. There is heritage and beauty around every corner of this vibrant city. Tripolia Bazaar is the busiest street in Jaipur, with shops selling handicrafts and sweets. Johari Bazaar is another busy marketplace where you can stock your bag with jewellery and textiles. If you have a wedding coming up in your family, this is the place to shop. From exquisite jewellery to clothing, everything is available here.
Jaipur also has three significant historical sites to visit: Amber Fort, Jantar Mantar, and Hawa Mahal. All three can be found within the Pink City. The 18th century City Palace is also another building worth visiting in Jaipur. Built in 1792 by Sawai Jai Singh II, the ruler of Amber; every element of this palace oozes elegance. Chandra Mahal, which is inside the City Palace, is the home of the present royals of Jaipur. By paying RO13, you can access this building and check out the carriage museum.
The famous Galtaji Temple, also known as Monkey Temple, is located 10km away from the city of Jaipur. The temple is beautifully constructed in pink sandstone and appears more like a palace.
This pre-historic Hindu pilgrimage site has the presence of many tribes of monkeys in the region. If you want to know more about the Hindu traditions and prayer ceremonies, this is a temple to visit. The most amazing thing to do in Jaipur is to take a hot air balloon safari for just RO16 per person. The ride takes you around various beautiful attractions.
My favourite place Jantar Mantar, located near the City Palace, is the largest stone astronomical observatory in the world. The primary objective of this building was to learn about space. Built in 1733, Jantar Mantar is on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites.
Highlights Head to Nahargarh Fort to get some breathtaking views of the city. This is the Fort where the Bollywood movie Rang De Basanti, starring Aamir Khan, was shot.
Lowlights The city of Jaipur is always dusty. If you are visiting the markets or travelling by taxi or tuk-tuk, use a mask before you hit the road.
Souvenirs Jaipur is one of my favourite shopping destinations. I picked up a small gold statue of Ganesh (the elephant God) for RO7 and Polki Jewellery for RO15. Make sure to taste Ghevar, the traditional Rajasthan sweet made for the festival of Teej that comes at the onset of the monsoon season.
Getting there Oman Air flies directly to Jaipur daily. A roundtrip flight to Jaipur starts at RO120.
Where to stay The Raj Palace Hotel is my favourite. A double deluxe room for one night will cost RO84 that also includes complimentary breakfast.
Top 5 things to do:
1. Visit Elefantastic, a sanctuary that makes rescuing elephants its mission.
2. Walk up to the famous Galtaji Temple which is also known as Monkey Temple.
3. Watch a movie at Raj Mandir Cinema for just RO1 per person.
4. Take a hot air balloon safari to see some of the attractions of the city.
5. Camp at Sambhar Lake and spend a wonderful night with your family.