Enthralling, historical Jaipur, Rajasthan’s capital, is the gateway to India’s most flamboyant state. The city’s colourful, chaotic streets ebb and flow with a heady brew of old and new. Careering buses dodge dawdling camels, leisurely cycle-rickshaws frustrate swarms of motorbikes, and everywhere buzzing autorickshaws watch for easy prey. In the middle of this cacophony and mayhem, the splendours of Jaipur’s majestic past are islands of relative calm evoking a different pace and another world. At the city’s heart, the City Palace continues to house the former royal family; the Jantar Mantar, the royal observatory, maintains a heavenly aspect; and the honeycomb Hawa Mahal gazes on the bazaar below. And just out of sight, in the arid hill country surrounding the city, is the fairy-tale grandeur of Amber Fort, Jaipur’s star attraction.
Jaipur is named after its founder, the great warrior-astronomer Jai Singh II (1688–1743), who came to power at age 11 after the death of his father, Maharaja Bishan Singh. Jai Singh could trace his lineage back to the Rajput clan of Kachhwahas, who consolidated their power in the 12th century. Their capital was at Amber (pronounced ‘amer’), about 11km northeast of present-day Jaipur, where they built the impressive Amber Fort. The kingdom grew wealthier and wealthier, and this, plus the need to accommodate the burgeoning population and a paucity of water at the old capital at Amber, prompted the maharaja in 1727 to commence work on a new city – Jaipur. Northern India’s first planned city, it was a collaborative effort using Singh’s vision and the impressive expertise of his chief architect, Vidyadhar Bhattacharya. Jai Singh’s grounding in the sciences is reflected in the precise symmetry of the new city. The paucity of good facing stone and rapidity of the build led to the rendering of the city walls, followed by orange-pink paint to mimic the stone fortresses of Delhi and Agra. In 1876 Maharaja Ram Singh had the entire Old City freshly painted pink (traditionally the colour of hospitality in India) to welcome the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII), reinforcing the city’s tone. Today all residents of the Old City are compelled by law to preserve the salmon-pink facade.
Best Time to Visit
Jaipur has a very hot and dry desert climate. During the summer months from April to June, temperatures rise to 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) or more. Monsoon rain is received, mostly in July and August. However, daytime temperatures still remain above 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit). The most pleasant time to visit Jaipur is during the winter, from November until March. Winter temperatures average 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit). Nights can be very chilly though, with temperatures dropping to 5 degrees Celsius (41 degrees Fahrenheit) in January.
If you have the apps, both Uber and Ola operate in Jaipur and both offer cheaper services than auto-rickshaws, without the need to haggle the price down from an unreasonable starting point. However, if you are staying at a five-star then I would recommend you to contact your concierge and ask for the best way of transport to your desired location as their suggestion would be a sure shot fastest way to travel to your location!
Autorickshaw drivers at the bus and train stations might just be the pushiest in Rajasthan. If they are open use the fixed-rate prepaid autorickshaw stands instead. Keep hold of your docket to give to the driver at the end of the journey. In other cases be prepared to bargain hard – expect to pay at least ₹100 from either station to the Old City.
You could do your bit for the environment (but not the poor fellow’s lungs) by flagging down a lean-limbed cycle-rickshaw rider. Though it can be uncomfortable watching someone pedalling hard to transport you, this is how they make a living. A short trip costs about ₹50.
There are unmetered taxis available, which will require negotiating a fare. Metro Cabs Taxis can be hired for sightseeing from ₹999. However, I would suggest to use Ola or Uber apps for cabs instead of local taxis as they can be cheaper. Or if you would like to travel in local taxis then you can use the Ola or Uber app to see what the ride would cost you and then accordingly haggle with the local taxi driver.
Jaipur Metro currently operates about 10km of track, known as the Pink Line, and nine stations. The track starts southwest of the Pink City in Mansarovar, travels through Civil Lines, and currently terminates at Chandpol. At the time of writing, the continuation of this track through the Pink City from Chandpol to Badi Chaupar was under construction. Fares are between ₹6 (one to two stations) and ₹17 (six to eight stations).
Hindi and English. Most of the locals understand and can communicate in English, however, if you plan on going to visit some historical place then I would recommend that you hire a tour guide as that way you will need to haggle your way through the entire day.
Indian rupee is the currency. 1 USD is roughly 72 INR but the rates fluctuate a lot on a daily basis so I would recommend getting you currency exchanged at your hotel itself as they would provide a flat rate. In case you decide to exchange your money at some roadside store, make sure it is authentic or you might get tricked with fake currency notes!
Jaipur is located approximately 260 kilometers (160 miles) southwest of Delhi. Travel time by road is about four hours. Jaipur is also about four hours from Agra in Uttar Pradesh, and you can stop at Chand Baori step well in Abhaneri village along the way. Jaipur is well-connected to the rest of India. It has a domestic airport with frequent flights to and from Delhi, and other major cities. Indian Railways “super fast” train services operate along the route and it’s possible to reach Jaipur in under five hours from Delhi. The bus is another option, and you’ll find services to and from many destinations. A useful website for checking out bus timetables is the Official Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation. You can find it here. You need to remember that the Indian time zone applies to Jaipur which is UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) +5.5 hours, also known as Indian Standard Time. Keep this in mind while checking your transport timings.
Utravlr Pro Tip: The constant summer heat is very draining, so it’s important to take measures to avoid getting dehydrated if you visit during the hottest months. Make sure you drink plenty of water and avoid staying out in the direct sun for too long.
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