When I first got to Jaipur, the fascinating Pink City of India, I knew that this trip would touch me in a different way. Compared to the countries that we have been before, everything there was different, architecturally and culturally. It was intriguing and thought-provoking at the same time, seeing the locals live the way they do- from lavish buildings to grinding daily poverty, it was a land of extremes. I was initially hesitant of bringing the girls along, not knowing what the sanitation and safety would be like, but soon learnt that as long as we were selective in the places that we went, we had nothing to worry about. Turns out, the places that we visited were stunning and historically very interesting. There was no point in time that we felt unsafe or threatened on our 5-day trip. Definitely looking forward to visit the other cities of India!
With the exception of Chand Baori, the rest of the attractions we visited in Jaipur are all within a 20mins drive from the city. As always, the best way to get around the city with kids is to pre-arrange a private car and driver.
Some information on our itinerary:
Flight – Scoot flies 4 times from Singapore to Jaipur direct (6-hour flight)
Accommodations – ITC Rajputana and Holiday Inn, booked through ExpediaSG
Currency - INR Indian Rupee (~SGD$1 = INR47)
Car Rental - Private driver (~SGD$80 full day in a 6-seater SUV)
Day 1: City Palace, Nahargarh Fort and Indiana Restaurant
Our first stop in Jaipur is City Palace, which interestingly still remains as the official residence for the Maharajah (Royal Family) of Jaipur. The palace is centrally located within the pink city centre and on our first visit we mistakenly took the standard tour (~$10) which did not include access to the main tower. We end up visiting again on day 3 and booked the private tour (~$50) where we got to climb all 7 storeys of the main tower and immerse in the historic relevance of all the different rooms in each level. Our guide was very knowledgeable and the private tour also includes a chai-tea/coffee break which is much needed as the tour took all of 3 full hours to explore. We highly recommend it.
Highlights of the city palace on the standard tour pass:
Standing on the edge of the Aravalli hills, Nahargarh fort was built in 1734 as defence for the capital. We had chosen to visit this place in the early evening, in hope to catch the sunset over the whole city of Jaipur. It was a no-private-car zone, so we had to walk a kilometre uphill to the viewing point. Rewarded nonetheless, the view was plain stunning. There is also a little cafe perched on the top of the fort, where we hanged out and waited for the sun to disappear into the horizon.
ITC Luxury Hotel- Located just half a kilometre from the pink city centre and 15km from the airport, this is a comfy hotel to stay with settings that reflect the spirit of Rajasthan and its royalty.
Day 2: Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mahal, Virasat Restaurant
Also known as the Palace of the Winds, Hawa Mahal represents the delicate and mesmerizing glory of Rajput architecture. A bee-hive shaped five-storey palace built around an intricate latticework, it has 953 windows designed to allow cool breeze to pass into the building (and thus its name). We discovered that the views are best enjoyed from the 3rd storey cafe’s balcony across the road!
Jantar Mahal- An astronomical observation site where 14 colossal instruments that were build in the 18th century can be found here, one of which is the world’s largest stone sundial. It is also listed as an UNESCO World Heritage site.
Virasat- A taste of royal Rajasthani dining, which includes an experience of turban tying, live music and traditional folk dance.
Day 3: Jal Mahal, Amer Fort, Spice Court Restaurant
Standing right in the middle of the Man Sagar Lake, this is perhaps the most intriguing of all places. The Jal Mahal, also known as the Water Palace, is a 5-storey palace where 3-storeys are submerged in the lake! Stories has it that the palace was built as a stopover place of entertainment for duck hunting and migratory birds spotting. We were so curious to see what’s inside but to our disappointment, found out that there were no boats to take us any closer and the palace is closed for visits.
Located about 30min away from the central Jaipur, the Amer Fort is an extensive palace complex made of pale yellow sandstone, sitting on the hills behind the Maotha Lake. The fort glows beautifully in the soft morning light which already looks really majestic from afar. We had the options to climb up on foot or go with an elephant ride, which we chose the latter as the it seems like a really long uphill walk under the hot sun.
We hired a local guide for 2-hrs and he helped provide the historical insights and navigated us through the palace!
Spice Court reminded us that India is indeed, a spice rich country! We love the food here so much that we came back for dinner twice in a row!
Day 4: Chand Baori Stepwell, Monkey Temple, Spice Court, Lassi
3,500 steps over 13 stories, the visually spectacular Chand Baori Stepwall is one of the largest ever built in India. Well worth the 3-hr drive just to see this! We also found out that this was the Batman’s prison in The Dark Knight Rises, just breathtaking.