Jaipur, the Pink City of Rajasthan is truly on the main tourist trail here in India. That’s not just for western tourists, but domestic Indian tourists too. And there are plenty of things to see and we’re excited to explore Jaipur. Tomorrow we’ll seek out Jaipur’s three forts, but today, we have a pink city to see.
Why is Jaipur Pink?
The Prince of Wales and Queen Victoria visited India in 1876. In India pink denotes the colour of hospitality, so Maharaja Ram Singh had the city of Jaipur painted pink to welcome his guests. The name, coined by Lord Albert stuck and so did the colour.
Is it really pink?
Well pretty much yes, pink is definitely the dominant colour in the city, although it’s not all the same shade. There is definitely pink everywhere throughout the city.
Explore Jaipur with the Composite Ticket
There’s one thing that Jaipur gets really right. That’s the tourist ticket. Buy one ticket (400 INR in 2016) and it gets you into six tourist locations throughout the city and even out at Amber Fort. The city is also easy to get around. So you don’t need one of those auto drivers, who probably scared the living daylights out of you when you got off the train. We arrived late at night, had a route planned to our hotel, the comfortable Aashiyana Palace, so fought our way through the throng and walked.
We start to explore Jaipur the next morning at the Maharaja Man Singh II museum. This isn’t covered on the composite ticket, but does provide us with free access to Jaigarh Fort, which we’ll be visiting as part of our Jaipur’s Three Forts trip tomorrow. So, the 400 INR fee doesn’t feel too bad. Besides that includes the camera fee, which is always a bone of contention.
Maharaja Man Singh II – City Palace Museum
The museum is also known as the city palace museum and comes with the usual offers of a human or audio guide. We paid 124 INR for a single audio guide – using our Budget Hack – Audio Guides to save a second fee. And while the audio guide isn’t great, the signage is worse, so we advise you either take a human guide or live with the audio one. A note of warning about the audio guides though. The numbers are hard to spot and the route around the museum is NOT logical, even though it does give some great detail.
What we found irritating about the audio guide (there’s always something right?) is that two of the sections are devoted to telling you about the areas of the museum where you can buy things! This palace is pretty savvy commercially and there are plenty of opportunities to visit museum shops. The food and drinks inside are very westernized, so if you’re missing the comforts of home, you’ll be sorted out here.
However, there are some great things to see.
The Durbar room is great – not quite as incredible as the Durbar rooms in Mysore, but still pretty impressive. Photos are only allowed in the outside spaces and you will be expected to produce your ticket on a regular basis, so don’t lose it!
It’s pretty peaceful in here, at least a lot more so than on the streets outside! Across the road from the city museum is Jaipur’s Jantar Mantar and it is WELL WORTH your time.
Jantar Mantar – Jaipur
Jaipur’s Jantar Mantar is covered on the Jaipur composite ticket that gives you access to Amber Fort, Nahagarh Fort, the Albert Hall Government Museum, Jantar Mantar, the Hawa Mahal and gardens and its valid for two days. The cost in 2016 is 400 INR per foreign tourist.
We’ve visited Jantar Mantars in Delhi (awful) and Ujjain, which as a city was awful, but the Jantar Mantar was quaint and still actually in use. Here in Jaipur, the Jantar Mantar is superb.
The park is clean and there is pretty good signage and descriptions about what each of the instruments were used for.
A Jantar Mantar is a collection of astronomy instruments. Five Jantar Mantars were built by Maharaja Jai Singh II of Jaipur from 1723 onwards. The purpose of the various instruments is to predict the times and movements of the sun, moon and planets. They’re located in Delhi, Ujjain, Jaipur, Mathura and Varanasi.
The audio guide here is a good explanation, but the role play that the educators use is somewhat irritating. Audio guides cost 124 INR each, and include a map to explain where you are.
You can take a human guide also, but, beware the large groups of tourists doing this. The shouting guides can and WILL drown out your audio guide. The groups will also stampede through you if given half the chance.
The Jantar Mantar is a great Indian introduction to astronomy, but we are moving on. Our next stop is the Hawa Mahal.
Hawa Mahal – Jaipur
The Hawa Mahal is also covered under the composite ticket, but if you want the audio guide it’s another 124 INR per guide.
The audio guide provides amazing detail, maybe a little too much, but heck I’m probably only coming here once!
The Hawa Mahal – the Palace of the Winds is beautiful. It was built so that the ladies of the court could observe the goings on of the city through the high lattice-windowed wall. The interior is like a honeycomb, with 953 stone latticed windows that create a cooling breeze through the building.
It’s a spectacular construction, but again, we’re moving on! Next stop the Albert Hall Government Museum.
Albert Hall Government Museum
The best part of this museum is the building that it’s housed in. It was built in the late 1800’s and has a collection and signage that doesn’t look as though it’s been updated since.
It’s another location that’s covered in the composite ticket for 400 INR. If you don’t take an audio or human guide it will be incomprehensible. Although the audio guide isn’t that great, it does cover galleries that are also closed for renovation, so you’ll get to hear about it all, even if you can’t see it. It’s a bizarre collection of pottery, carpets, armoury and paintings. There’s even an odd Egyptian mummy thrown in for good measure.
We’re pretty glad we didn’t pay specifically to come to this museum and that we shared an audio guide rather than shelling out for two of them!
Our final stop in Jaipur is the Isarlat. It’s called many different names on tourism sights, but the name outside the actual structure is the Isarlat.
It’s pretty hard to find behind the shops on Tripolia Bazaar, but its cheap to get in, just 20 INR plus a further 50 INR for a camera (which you’ll want to pay for). Then its just a hike up to the top.
It’s hard to describe, the way up. It’s a tower. So it’s a circular stairway that is more of a ramp with a few random steps thrown in. Something of a slippery slope with ridges that is neither easy to ascend or descend. Still the views from the top are fabulous. There is a tiny platform at the top. If there are more than four of you up there it will be full, but you’ll get 360 degree views of Jaipur.
The views up to Nahagarh Fort are amazing. You’ll also be able to see Jantar Mantar, Hawa Mahal and the Palace.
And, so that wraps up our account of the Pink City. We hope you’ve enjoyed joining us in our explore Jaipur today, be sure to check out Jaipur’s Three Forts.