Jaipur is one of the perfect weekend destinations especially so from the capital of the country. If you would want to see the city leisurely or have a one-day hectic tour, you’d still have enough time to go around observing all the details minutely. Here’s how we went about our trip to make the most of it in a single day –
We started off from our hotel after a heavy breakfast, applying a lot of sunscreen and umbrella in hand. Ideally, one’s first major stop should be Amber Fort which opens at 9 in the morning as it takes the longest to explore. En route to this fort, however, we made a slight detour and visited the Jal Mahal. Standing magnificently on the Man Sagar Lake, this mahal was built by Maharaja Jai Singh II of Amer in the 18th century. One cannot enter this palace, but you can take in its scenic beauty and architectural grandeur from afar.
Try to reach the Amber Fort as early as possible so that you don’t have to endure the direct sun rays for too long. We took a jeep up to the fort as it was the most convenient and economical way (Rs 110 round trip per person) upward and back. A one-way elephant ride up to the fort for 2 people costs Rs 1100, on subject to negotiation. However, as thrilling as it is, this ride would be more comfortable only if it is not too sunny. There are places to buy water and snacks, but a proper breakfast cannot be found in this part
This fort was built by Man Singh I and was the residence of the Rajput family until they shifted to the City Palace in 1754. It took 132 years to be built. You will witness the unity of Hindu, Islamic and British architecture inculcated in this fort. To know better, you could either take a local tour guide or read up on Amber Fort here to know a detailed history of all the parts of the fort. Keep a lookout for the beautiful Sheesh Mahal.
There are stalls with lip-smacking kulfis available which are a treat to our taste buds. Rajasthan has a great variety of handiwork items and their own famous bandhni print. There are shops on the exit of the fort, but it would be advisable to wait until the end of the day to visit the famous markets of Jaipur (Johari Bazaar for wedding clothes and kundan sets, Nehru Bazaar for souvenirs, Kishnapol Bazaar for traditional Rajasthani items, Bapu Bazaar for all things alike and for its pink buildings as it is in the heart of the Pink City which is great for a walk) to get a larger stock, more options and better prices for gifting items, clothes, shoes and all other things alike. These markets are all open till 7:30pm.
The next stop would be the Jaigarh Fort. It was the military base of the Rajputs. It still has one of the largest cannons they used (only once, fortunately and unfortunately). It will take up roughly 45 minutes to visit this fort.
By the time we were done with the fort visits, it was lunchtime. We reached the Hawa Mahal (entry to which is allowed, but not so popular). The locals will recommend you to try out one of their local dhabas opposite to the Hawa Mahal, but it will be advisable not to go to either of them and instead eat a packed lunch, or return here after eating at your hotel. Mostly because the place will seem popular but is highly unhygienic and the food quality is not good at all. If you are interested to try out the authentic Rajasthani cuisine and imbibe their culture, you can head off to Chokhi Dhani on Tonk Road for a great evening.
Our next stop was the City Palace. It is the present residence of the royal family. Once again here you will witness the beautiful fusion of cultures in their architectural styles. I personally found the four gates of the four seasons to be the most beautiful part of the palace. It was picturesque and every gate had a show of skilled artistry. Even the room where it was decided that all the territories signed to become one singular state of Rajasthan is beautifully decorated, containing also the portraits of all the Rajput rulers.
Another popular museum situated nearby is the Albert Hall Museum. You could visit this first and then go to the City Palace since this closes at 4:30pm while the City Palace closes at 5pm. However, if you are time-crunched, missing out on the City Palace would be tomfoolery.
Head over to the bazaars for the evening, any trip without some shopping is incomplete. The marketplace is very organized with proper shop numbers. Do bargain, tourists are easily cheated on by the cunning salesmen. The kulfi in Ramchandra Kulfi Bhandar (closest to Johri Bazaar and Hawa Mahal) are to die for. Head over for a sumptuous meal in either Chokhi Dhani (though it is advisable to reach there early to be able to enjoy various activities it provides), to a restaurant of your choice, or retire back to your hotel as you’re bound to be tired from this hectic tour around the Pink City with a head full of majestic ideas and heart embroidered in an ethnic traditional Rajasthani style.