Australian tourists Dina and Phil, share their travel experience outside the regular destinations in India, choosing instead to go a little off the beaten track to explore Jaipur.
When arriving by train in Jaipur, the station isn’t the most welcoming of venues, and tuk-tuk and taxi drivers can be forceful in their desire for your business. But don’t be quick to judge the Pink City by its train station.
To be honest, I didn’t know all that much about Jaipur before I arrived. I knew it was called the Pink City, but I thought it would be more pink. The terracotta, though beautiful in its current state, has either faded through time from its original pink to an orange shade, or perhaps it has been orange all along.
Nonetheless, it was fascinating and thrilling to be there to learn about its history of Maharajas and harems and to see the exquisite, decadent architecture of old at the Palace of Winds, Amber Fort and Hall of Mirrors. The Pink City’s walls that originally surrounded Jaipur are now within, as the city has expanded outside of its borders.
Umaid Mahal hotel
We stayed at Umaid Mahal, which we both highly recommend. The hotel was clean, beautifully presented and full of local character. Unlike the other hotels, which had a very generic though luxurious Western feel, the architecture and furnishings here were opulent and brightly coloured with a traditional design.
We simply couldn’t fault the hotel staff. They were so friendly and helpful, particularly in the restaurant. Phil made some attempts at speaking Hindi, which seemed to delight our waiters. As well as sharing tips about things to see and places to go, they also gave us a quick lesson in more Hindi words that might come in handy.
Tip: If you’d like to get to know the locals, putting in the effort to learn some Hindi beforehand to bust the language barrier can really break the ice and help you make new friends in Jaipur.
Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds)
Built more than 200 years ago, the Palace of Winds is definitely a photo stop you should make. Mornings are best as it can get extremely busy in the afternoons. You needn’t spend a long time at the Palace, just enough to marvel at the architecture of the facade, specifically the countless windows.
The Palace of Winds was designed so its windows could all be thrown open, allowing for cool breezes to rush in and swirl around the entire building, cooling it from the Indian heat as the Maharajah’s wives sat and watched processions go by in the street, unseen from below. It all sounds rather romantic, don’t you think?
You may even see a snake charmer entertaining the crowds when you visit – make sure to tip them if you stay and watch.
Markets in Jaipur
There are many different markets in Jaipur, including the Johari, Bapu and Nehru Bazaars, where you will find delectable local street food (depending on local hygiene practices, your stomach may not think it is as delicious as your mouth does), plus traditional tapestries, saris, rugs and jewellery.
Mass-produced, imported knick-knacks and trinkets are also on offer, including T-shirts, pens and key rings that you can find all over the world.
Shopkeepers and stall holders are proactive in their selling techniques. Each one will suggest you come in just for a look, no pressure. If you don’t want to stop, however, you will mostly be left to your own devices by avoiding eye contact.
India, with over a billion residents, is a busy, bustling country, and Jaipur is well worth a visit.
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