City Spotlight: Jaipur

Jaipur is the capital and largest city in the state of Rajasthan, situated in Western India. The city’s population well exceeds 3.1 million, making it the tenth most populous city in the country. Colloquially, this metropolis is known as the Pink City for its gorgeously-colored buildings. Jaipur forms part of the west Gold Triangle tourist circuit (along with Agra), making it a vivacious, easily-accessible Indian destination. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, serving as a gateway to additional destinations within Rajasthan.

Jaipur is home to several important cultural sites. The Hawa Mahal is a pink sandstone palace known colloquially as “Palace of the Winds.” Similarly, the City Palace is a lavish, pink 1700s structure that includes both a main complex and a museum—perfect for tourists. History lovers will delight in the city’s many historic buildings; Amer Fort, a structure sitting atop a hill overlooking the city, was built in the 16th century. With a felicitous combination of royal heritage, ancient history, and an ultra-modern lifestyle, Jaipur is a great representation of urban Indian life.

While in Jaipur, visit the best-known cinema in India: The Raj Mandir Cinema. Opened in 1976, this large, art deco-inspired structure is one of the best places in the country to catch a Bollywood film. The spacious theater has comfortable seats, and the hundreds of moviegoers will make you feel like you’re attending a premier—regardless of the film, day, or time. When you’re done, walk over to Ml Road, which hosts some of the city’s best lassi shops.

Jaipur is located on National Highway No.8, which connects Delhi and Mumbai. Additionally, RSRTC operates bus services to other major cities in Rajasthan, making Jaipur an easily accessible destination when put into a larger Indian tour.

Traveling in India: What You Need to Know

So: You’ve decided to visit India. You might have an idea of the places you want to visit, but—odds are—you’re agonizing over every detail of your trip. Traveling in India is an overwhelming but rewarding experience, and new travelers should seek out expert tips and advice to prevent overstimulation. Luckily, that’s what I’m here to provide. Below are my four tips for having a successful Indian vacation.

 

  1. Plan your route. Don’t show up in Mumbai expecting to visit Kerala. Think about the sites you want to see and plan your trip around that. If you want to stay in one place, by all means, this is the easiest option. However, India is such a compact, diverse country that seeing several cities in a single trip is very manageable—just choose cities that interest you rather than those you’ve only heard about in passing.

 

  1. Take a few hours each day to get away from the crowds. With over a billion locals, parts of India can feel very claustrophobic. It’s easy to reach a personal breaking point, so spend some time alone, inside, or in one of the country’s smaller towns.

 

  1. Know what you consume. Don’t drink tap water, and don’t consume food that has been washed in it. Avoid ice cream, salads, and fruit you haven’t peeled or prepared yourself, and give your stomach a few days to adjust before trying any street food ventures.

 

  1. Take it slow. It’s better to concentrate on just a few places rather than trying to tick off as many as possible. Spend a few days in a single place before moving on—you’ll gain a deeper understanding of where you are and have more time to explore.

 

Must-See Spots in India

At this point in your planning process, you’ve likely booked your flight, but you’re not completely sure what you want to see. India is a dense, highly-populated country; as a result, there is a lot packed into the space, and you won’t have the time to see it all in a single trip. While planning your vacation, think about what interests you most about the country. Is it the wildlife? Is it the religious sights? Maybe it’s the standard landmarks and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It is essential to plan your trip around what you absolutely need to see, concentrating on either the North or the South. Be realistic about your time—you’ll have a more relaxing trip.

While working as a tour guide, I came to recognize four popular routes. I have the important sites listed below.

 

The Classics—This is the most popular route for travelers in India. It includes the Golden Triangle—Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur. If you don’t mind a fast-paced trip, you can squeeze it all into a week. Your can’t-miss sites include: Humayun’s Tomb, the Red Fort, the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri, and the Pink City.

 

Religious Tour—Whether you are personally religious or merely interested in religious architecture, India offers countless temples, mosques, and places of worship—especially in north and central India. Your can’t miss sites include: the Golden Temple, Khajuraho, the Sun Temple, the Jain temples in Rajasthan and Gujarat, and the temple caves at Ajanta and Ellora.

 

Beach Relaxation—The southern end of India is home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. From Mumbai’s Girgaum Chowpatty beach to the Goan beaches, you can’t go wrong in choosing a destination. I personally enjoy Kerala’s black sand beaches (Kovalam and Varkala) in the north.

 

Adventure Trekking—Northern India is mountainous and beautiful—perfect for those seeking a bit of an adrenaline rush. Start in Shimla and work your way up to Manali to experience some of the best hiking, skiing, and whitewater rafting available.