After a conference earlier this year, I had a weekend to spend in or around New Delhi, India, before continuing with my journey. Visiting the Taj Mahal is one of the activities that has been in in my wish list for a long time and I was ready to cross it off my list that weekend. However, a wise man, that I met at the conference, recommended to visit Jaipur, instead of Agra – home of the Taj Mahal. After some deliberation, I decided to follow his advice, and a few hours after that I, was boarding an early train to Jaipur. Such a wise man…
After four and a half hours of journey on the Jaipur Express, I arrived in Jaipur. As it happens when visiting a new place, the first few hours in the city can be a little daunting. Especially for those without previous experience traveling around India, as it was my case. Temperatures can easily reach 35ºC or even 40ºC before noon, and the roads can be a little intimidating with all types of vehicles – including buses, cars, motorcycles, rickshaws, bicycles, elephants, and even camels – traveling in all directions. It only takes a little bit before starting to immerse in the charm of Jaipur and to start to discover everything that the city has to offer.
The old city center is encircled by a wall and a number of beautiful gates. These gates, along with a number of buildings situated within and around the old city center, display a distinct pink colour that give Jaipur the name of the ‘pink city’. Visiting the old city center is a delight for all senses: the colourful bazaars, the amazing architecture, delicious street food all around, and the beautiful traditional clothing that a large number of people continue to wear.
Eating in Jaipur is also a treat. I had the pleasure of trying homemade food, prepared by the welcoming and warm family that hosted me during my stay in Jaipur; street chai and tasteful snacks from a number of street vendors; and traditional and modern Indian food from amazing restaurants that would easily be in the top ten restaurants that I have visited across the globe. I especially recommended Tapri and the terrace of the Grand Peacock Restaurant. Also, in case you are interested in high-quality home accommodation in Jaipur, I strongly recommend checking-out Shan’s place. Shan and their family are amazing hosts and their house is beautifully decorated.
About 10 km away from Jaipur, lies the small town of Khania-Balaji. The town is home to the pilgrimage site called Galta Ji, commonly known as ‘Monkey temple’. The route to the site through the small village is really beautiful, and the architecture and sights from the top of the temple are just breathtaking. Not to mention, the fun that it is to watch the playful monkeys that abound around the temple.
A short ride away from Jaipur, lies the magnificent Amer Fort, one of the six Jaipur forts declared as World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The location, dimension and architectural beauty of this site, alone, make it worth a visit to Jaipur. The only regret that I have about this trip, is not having had more days to visit the other forts and the many other sites spread across the city.