Jaipur, the Pink City. Home of block printing, jewels and one of the most beautiful forts in the world, all encased in a city wall of the most gorgeous terracotta pink. Jaipur is a common stop on any tour of North India or Rajasthan and rightly so, it is beautiful as well as being great for shopping.
So if you’re staying in Jaipur what do you do for 48 hours?
Day 1 – First thing
Get up early and head over to the Amber Fort about 40 minutes drive out of Jaipur. It is totally worth getting up early for and arriving to see the fort in the morning sunlight. It is a gorgeous ochre colour and really glistens in the sunlight. Your taxi driver will probably take you for a masala chai on the roadside on the way to wake you up!
The walk up to the fort is steep but totally doable and much better than taking the elephant ride. There is a concerted effort to stop the elephant rides due to mistreatment concerns so either walk up or take one of the 4×4 shuttles.
On arrival you will find yourself in a huge courtyard where returning armies used to gather, grab your entrance ticket and decide whether you want a guide or an audio guide (we found the audio guide informative and it means you can go at your own pace). Arriving early also means you should get through this courtyard without too many hawkers trying to sell you turbans, umbrellas or guidebooks.
The entire fort is beautiful but the Ganesh Pol and Jai Mandir (Hall of Victory) are total highlights with exquisite murals and mirror work to make a truly breathtaking experience.
From the Amber Fort we walked up to the Jaigargh Fort which sits on the hill above, this is a steep climb which would be sweaty if it was hot but you can also drive up to it. Although this is is much more of a military fort (with the worlds biggest cannon) it has an amazing vantage point for photos down onto the Amber Fort and of Jaipur beyond.
Quick bite to eat
The Jaigargh Fort also has a little cafe/restaurant which is great for a pakora and cheese naan snack lunch before the walk back down to find your driver.
An afternoon of shopping
After all that sightseeing an afternoon back in Jaipur having a mooch around the shops is perfect. The MI Road is a main thoroughfare through Jaipur but is also home to lots of jewellery shops.
The most famous of these is the The Gem Palace, although expensive and out of most price ranges it is perfect for browsing and contains truly some of the most ostentatious jewellery I have ever seen! Ever felt the need for a huge diamond encrusted frog ring holding a ruby then this is the place for you!
For more affordable jewellery pop into any of the little shops dotted along the MI Road or take a taxi to Ratnavali Jewels where you can even design your own and have it made.
Not far from the MI Road is one of the outlets of FabIndia, although it is a chain it’s a great shop for homewares, china and clothing often better quality than in the markets and without the haggling!
Head to a rooftop for dinner with a view
I thoroughly recommend Dagla, just off Indra Bazaar for an amazing rooftop dinner with views of Nahargarh Fort on the hill and the rooftops of Jaipur. We were there during kite flying season and it was lovely watching the sun go down with all the kites in the sky.
The food at Dagla is classic Rajasthani and is absolutely delicious! The Baigan ka Bharta was one of the most amazing aubergine dishes I’ve ever had and okra curry was amazing.
Day 2 – Take a walk around the flower market
Another early start is totally worth it when you get to experience Jaipur without the crowds and the beauty of the flower market. The flower market is a riot of colour, marigolds, roses and jasmine all waiting to head off to be made into garlands for the temples. Beautiful flowers wrapped in hessian sacks or saris.
I highly recommend taking a tour to experience the market and early morning Jaipur, it means you can just take it all in and not have to navigate yourselves. We booked ours through Air Bnb and could not have been happier. It was not only a walk through the markets but also visiting a hindu temple, the Hawa Mahal and City Palace gates when no one is around. Also the best samosas for breakfast!
Visit the City Palace
You really can’t visit Jaipur without visiting the City Palace. Get there for opening and you really will have it all to yourself. There’s a basic entrance fee that gets you in to the complex and the incredible architecture but they also have more expensive guided tour options. I honestly think these are so worth it.
The Royal Grandeur tour includes access to some of the private quarters of the Royal family, highly exquisite throne rooms and the guest quarters. If you can afford the extra cost it is really worthwhile, particularly if you get there early.
Of course one of the highlights of the City Palace is the seasons courtyard with its four themed decorated doorways. Just beautiful
Be baffled by the Jantar Mantar
The Jantar Mantar is an astronomers delight built in the 1790’s. A series of huge instruments used for measuring positions of planets and celestial bodies they are not only scientifically impressive but beautiful look at. Visiting in the bright sunshine is a little like walking into a De Chirico painting.
Go behind the face of the Hawa Mahal
I was so surprised by the Hawa Mahal, normally pictures from the front suffice but this time I visited the full complex. It’s not that expensive and you get to climb all the way to the top. There are amazing views over to the City Palace complex as well as down onto the street through the little windows.
The Hawa Mahal was built for the ladies of the Royal household to be able to watch what was going on in Jaipur without being seen by anyone. Little do you know from the ground that the chambers they sat in to watch are dappled with gorgeous multi coloured light as all the glass in the Hawa Mahal is stained. Truly beautiful
Grab lunch at LMB
The LMB hotel and sweet shop are Jaipur institutions and its restaurant is pretty well known too as a place to stop while in the bazaars. This is definitely the place to get thali for lunch. Thali is a mainly Rajasthani dish which is a bit like mezze. Lots of little taster dishes of different curries, veg dishes, rice and pickles and it is delicious! The huge silver dish covered in little silver bowls gets delivered to your table and technically you can continue ordering top ups until you’re full!
Wander the bazaars
Jaipur’s bazaars are loosely divided in to sections that have different styles of shops selling everything from cooking pots to wedding saris to bicycle tyres. They’re all laid out on a grid system and in covered rows of shops so pretty simple to navigate.
Johari Bazaar is the most trinkety and good for general souvenir type shopping. Lots of bangles, jewellery and clothing on offer. One place I really recommend is a treasure trove of indigo, Hassans. Anything you’d like that is block printed in indigo is available here. Shirts, bed throws, pj’s, scarves and dresses are all here.
Hop in a tuk tuk to the Albert Hall Museum
A truly beautiful ornate building which is beautiful for photos in the later afternoon sun. Take a tuk tuk and watch the pigeons fly around the domes of the building, the noise and bustle of Jaipur surrounding you