2 Days in the Pink City of Jaipur

Rajasthan is how I always imagined India to be – cows and camels roaming the streets, a dry and almost unbearable climate and people dressed in the brightest and most beautiful clothes imaginable. Yep, I’m aware that it’s a very close-minded, stereotypical and probably a little bit racist image to have, but you can blame Western media and its shameless cultural appropriation for that.

Still, it’s for that reason that Rajasthan has been top of my “I must go here and see all the things and eat all the food and take all the photos” list for a bloody long time now, and finally I can cross it off. Although to be honest I haven’t even scratched the surface of Rajasthan seeing as I was only able to make a whistle stop tour of Jaipur, Ajmer (don’t go there!) and Udaipur, so I’ll definitely be back for a much longer, much more in-depth venture of discovery. Sit tight Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and Pushkar… I’m coming for you.

I only actually had 2 days in Jaipur, which is honestly nowhere near enough to do the city justice, especially when you end up spending the better part of half a day running around like a headless chicken trying to find a rabies vaccination but I still managed to somehow squeeze in a decent number of sights and smells and sounds.

Amber Fort

I’m actually really confused about what the actual name of this complex is – in guidebooks and on most websites it’s Amer Fort, but on the official website of the actual place it’s Amber Fort, and that’s also what the locals call it. So which is it?! Or are they two completely different places?! For the sake of this post, I’m going with Amber, only because a red squiggly line doesn’t appear underneath it.

amber-fort

India has this habit of charging tourists 10x the price of a local ticket for main attractions, which is too bloody annoying to even try to put intowords. And Amber Fort is no exception to the rule, with entry costing a mere ₹25 for Indians compared to ₹200 for foreigners. I completely understand and to some extent agree with charging extra for visitors (like, you deserve at least some brownie points for being born in the same country!), but almost 10 times the amount is a bit harsh if you ask me. So out of principle (and because funds were running dangerously low) I didn’t actually go into the complex, choosing instead to stand outside and ooh and aah at its grandieur from afar. There was also a cow swimming in the lake outside which was more than enough entertainment!

The Pink City

The name speaks for itself really: it’s a section of the city that is completely and utterly pink! Except it’s not pink anymore because time makes paint fade, and apparently they don’t fancy sprucing the place up a bit these days, so now it’s more peachy, or maybe salmon at a stretch.

A lot of tourists choose to spend a half or full day just wandering around the Pink City, and although it is really pretty, our local tuktuk driver/friend got it one when he said “it’s the same wherever you walk“. Quite a few of the main attractions are situated here, but other than that it does just all look the same. But it’s a nice same, so if wandering around aimlessly is your thing (it’s definitely mine) then knock yourself out!

Hawa Mahal

hawa-mahal-2

One of the main ‘places to see’ inside the Pink City itself, the ‘Palace of the Winds’ is the pink honeycombed palace of everyone’s Fairytale princess dreams. I want to live there. I want to plait my hair like Rapunzel and dangle out of one of the many many windows, but that’s probably impossible so I’d happily settle for a colouring book full of pictures (uncoloured of course) of Hawa Mahal instead, maybe accompanied by some fruit stalls or something, I don’t know.

This was another case of not going inside because I’m a poor traveller with holes in my shoes, but photography is actually forbidden inside so I could have just gotten away with saying I went in, it was great but no photos because illegal soz, but I like honesty so yeah, I stood outside and looked up, took a photo and then left. That was a long sentence. Like Amber Fort, entry for foreigners is ₹200 and ₹50 for locals. You lucky locals, you!

Jal Mahal

The ‘Water Palace’ is situated, as the name kind of suggests, smack bang in the centre of a lake! Man Sagar Lake to be precise. When the lake is full to capacity four of the palace’s five storeys are submerged underwater, leaving just the top floor peeking out over the top of the water.

jal-mahal

I’ve been told – and I haven’t been able to verify the credibility of this information – that it was built the way it is because back in the day before AC or even ceiling fans came into existence, the Maharajah would get way toohot in the heat of the summer, and so a building submerged under cool-ish water was the perfect, natural solution to his overheating problem.

The palace isn’t open to visitors, probably because sending hundreds of people across a lake every day to potentially drown in an old building submerged by water is way too much of a liability for even India to handle. Just standing on the side and pointing and looking is nice enough, though. There are also camels across the road, which I guess you can take for a ride if that’s your kind of thing.

Royal Gaitor

One of the lesser known ‘attractions’ of Jaipur, I was drawn there like a needle to a magnet when I found out that the entry price was only ₹30 regardless of your nationality. Absolute bargain! Granted, I didn’t realise at the time that it was essentially a complex of cenotaphs, and I always feel a bit err about visiting somebody’s final resting and/or place of memorial as a tourist, but our guide slash driver slash bloke who persuaded us to go there in the first place said it was all perfectly okay. And who am I to argue with a native Rajasthani about his own home town?!

royal-gaitor-2

Royal Gaitor was stunning. The location was abnormally quiet, which made it kind of eery but at the same time peaceful and just nice. Not the best describing word, I know, but nice seems the most apt. The domes and platforms and structures are made of stone and marble, and some of them are so intricately carved that you’d have a bloody hard job believing it was all done by hand!

royal-gaitor-jaipur

It’s also one of the most photogenic places I’ve ever visited in my life, and I’m not sure how I feel about that.

Elephant Village

Who doesn’t love elephants?! I’m not one for the whole using elephants for tourism malarkey, but Jaipur’s Elephant Village really is something else! I’ve seen elephants in the wild and in captivity in a good few countries now, but I’ve never seen elephants as happy as these noes. Reading this article paints a bleak picture about what to expect, but I promise you it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen when it comes to elephants! The elephants in the village each belong to a family, and as the sale of elephants is now considered an illegal practice, more often than not have belonged to the same family for their entire lives.

They aren’t considered as pets, but members of the family. They aren’t tied up to trees, nor do they have shackles around their feet to protect the visitors because at the end of the day it’s their home and so their comfort should be paramount. And it is.

You can pay ₹2500 to bathe, feed, ride and paint the elephants, and the price goes down every time you knock off an activity. Despite the mahout’s reassurances that riding the elephants was perfectly ethical and them carrying a human on their back is the same as a human carrying a backpack, I really didn’t want to do this. Nor did I want to paint them, just because it seemed a bit weird. The mahout said this is just like a massage for the elephants – they like the feeling of human hands on them, but even so I’m no artist. In the end I paid ₹500 for the privilege of feeding and simply being with the elephants, and it was amazing even if one did stamp on my foot.

elephants-in-jaipur

Galtaji Monkey Temple

They say the best things in life come for free, and sometimes if you’re lucky the free things involve monkey attacks. I was lured (probably using the wrong word there) to Galtaji Monkey Temple with the promise that it was free and beautiful and that there’d be an incredible view over the whole of Jaipur, and all of the above proved true, but there was also 3000+ monkeys which is not fantastic in my book.

To be honest contracting rabies and becoming half human, half monkey (or dead!) would probably be worth it because Galtaji is incredible.

galtaji-monkey-temple

Nestled in amongst stone walls and hills, it’s a Hindu temple complex sort of thing that’s still very much used in its traditional way now, and not as a tourist attraction. Entry is free from both sides although there is a ₹50 camera charge if like me you fancy yourself the next big thing on Nat Geo. Seriously, it’s wow.

Tailors & Markets

Jaipur is well-known throughout India for it’s affordable (read as: cheap as chips) but gorgeous tailor-made clothing, and if you’re in the area you really should try and get to grips with the industry. I’d highly recommend visiting a workshop or demonstration unit to see exactly how fabrics are hand printed, and then waltz on up to a textiles store and have something specially made for you.

You can take your pick throughout the city really, there are so many different places to choose from which all pretty much make the same stuff at similar prices, and the fabrics are just mmmmm.

Despite my terrifyingly enormous overdraft (JUST KIDDING PEOPLE AT HOME, RELAX!) and the fact htat I didn’t actually have any money, I did spend a bit too much buying a few things BUT they’re going to be Christmas presents for people, so irresponsible spending is allowed right?!


There are so many other amazing places I wasn’t quite able to get to during my short but oh so sweet trip to Jaipur and I’m A-Okay with that because hey, it’s just an excuse to go back! And go back I most certainly shall!

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34 Comments

  1. 17th December 2016 / 1:22 pm

    What an incredible place, I must admit I would be packing up mounds of the fabric and shipping it home regardless of the overdraft – just think the price it would bring…lol. As for the elephants a dream come true.

    • rhiydwi
      18th December 2016 / 12:14 am

      Oh trust me, I was definitely tempted! Especially when the bloke nonchalantly said “yeah, we can ship anything for small price”. The elephants were truly magnificent!

  2. 17th December 2016 / 10:00 pm

    Reading posts about India makes me so happy! I was in Jaipur for Holi in March this year – your comment about the name of the Amer/Amber Fort really made me laugh as I had the exact same issue (I haven’t even written about it yet!). India is such a crazy, chaotic country, but I was totally taken by surprise how filthy Jaipur was. It was worse than any other Indian city I visited!

    • rhiydwi
      18th December 2016 / 6:16 pm

      Oh honestly, I spent way too long on various different websites trying to work out what it’s actually called! I also agree with you there – I only made it to a small handful of cities, but Jaipur was most definitely the dirtiest. But I also found some of the sites so beautiful that I sort of stopped noticing my surroundings!

  3. 18th December 2016 / 6:14 am

    been reading a lot of good and interesting travel reviews about Rajasthan! would really love to visit!

    • rhiydwi
      18th December 2016 / 6:06 pm

      It really is a beautiful place; hope you get to visit some day!

  4. 18th December 2016 / 7:17 am

    Beautiful place and amazing architecture! It’s heaven for photography. I also get annoyed with the 10x hike of entry fees for foreigners. It happens in my country Indonesia too. My Indonesian friend who is married to a Dutch (and has a son) had to pay 10x for her son when entering some attractions in Indonesia, while she pays a normal price. Quite ridiculous isn’t it?!

    • rhiydwi
      18th December 2016 / 6:09 pm

      It really is one of the most photogenic cities I’ve ever been to! Seriously?! That’s so unfair! Especially as, you know, the son should technically be considered at least half-Indonesian, right?

  5. 18th December 2016 / 1:03 pm

    Oh these buildings are just sooo beautiful! I’ve honestly never head of this city but now it’s on my travel list! 🙂

    • rhiydwi
      18th December 2016 / 6:07 pm

      I think unless India is already ‘on your radar’ then you wouldn’t really come across it, but definitely worth a visit if you ever get a chance!

  6. 18th December 2016 / 5:17 pm

    Jaipur looks simply incredible, I desperately want to visit! Hawa Mahal looks amazing, how photogenic and gorgeous is it?!

    • rhiydwi
      18th December 2016 / 6:10 pm

      Oh it really is so wonderful! I didn’t get to go inside Hawa Mahal but just standing outside and looking at it is enough for me (:

  7. 18th December 2016 / 7:31 pm

    I have been to Jaipur thrice when I was on my trip to Rajasthan. It’s an amazing place to travel. Jaipur is a bit crowded, but still every wait is worth the watch. Btw great photos.

    • rhiydwi
      18th December 2016 / 10:03 pm

      Definitely! But then, as a non-Indian I find everywhere in India a bit crowded haha. Thank you so much!

  8. 20th December 2016 / 9:32 am

    Urgh, it’s so annoying when you get charged more just because you’re a foreigner. However, I don’t have a problem if it’s free for locals, but charged for visitors. That I get for some reason…probably because tourism is a huge business and keeps some places entirely afloat on its own. However, we still shouldn’t be charged something ridiculous. Not sure what the 200 translates to in gbp though, but it just sounds like an unjust discrimination. But I rarely visit paid attractions anyway. Haha

    And great post! Never heard of Jaipur until now, but it looks amazing; definitely going to add it to my list of places to see. (:

    • rhiydwi
      22nd December 2016 / 2:35 pm

      I actually agree with you there. If I remember correctly that was the case at a lot of sites in Peru – foreigners were charged the equivalent of a few dollars and people who could prove their Peruvian citizenship were free. In that situation it’s their culture and history and by all means I whole-heartedly agree with a person having free access to learning more about their own country’s past. However, I find that in a lot of places in India (and many other countries!) it’s more about making money than anything else. The view is that visitors – especially Western ones – have enough money that they can regularly be charged sometimes as much as x10 the amount of locals and it wouldn’t make a dent in their wallets. Although 200 Rupees (equivalent of about £2/$2) really doesn’t seem much to me as a British citizen, it’s a lot to tourists from other countries. For example, the average salary in Sri Lanka & Nepal is very similar to that in India, and so 200 Rupees would mean a lot more to them than to me, but they’d still have to pay the same sum. Long-winded reply, sorry haha!
      I really hope you make it some day – it’s a truly beautiful city!

  9. 21st December 2016 / 4:19 am

    You posted such interesting scenes of India Ive never seen before. And having not known about this place before, this is a good read. So glad you shared it!;)

    • rhiydwi
      22nd December 2016 / 2:19 pm

      Thank you for reading! I didn’t get to see so much of Rajasthan, but from what I did see I can tell you that it’s absolutely incredible (:

  10. 21st December 2016 / 4:24 pm

    Jay Mahal looks incredible! I really hope the reasoning behind it being built there is true, very clever. Are people able to get boat trips over?

    The visit to the elephants sounds fantastic. I also agree with your views on the treatment, no matter what they say, I’m pretty sure the elephant would prefer not to be wearing a ‘backpack’.

    Great read, thanks!

    • rhiydwi
      22nd December 2016 / 2:43 pm

      Nope, no boat trips for anyone not associated with the palace or maintenance people! Yeah exactly – like, I get grouchy enough when I have a backpack on, so the elephants must feel the same!

  11. 24th March 2017 / 5:38 am

    I am still astounded that places like this exist, a place I may never see (let’s talk about my anxiety issues lol). The photo of the Hawa Mathal is so beautiful and it is too bad you didn’t (or did you?) go inside. Jaipur is really beautiful and I am sure you didn’t even capture 1/2 of its beauty, even though your photos were pretty impressive.

  12. 24th March 2017 / 6:49 am

    Everything is so pretty! I’d love to visit. The Pink City really is lovely in pictures, although I can see what your tuk tuk driver means. I’ve visited a few places that charge so much more for tourists and whilst I agree that it is good to make a little extra money, the extortionate rates do put me off paying.

  13. 24th March 2017 / 11:12 pm

    Yeah, happy to hear you were able to cross Rajasthan off your bucket list! It’s such a shame when there’s a huge mark up on entry prices for tourists. 🙁 The Palace of the Winds does look like a storybook castle. Looking forward to visiting India one day…

  14. 25th March 2017 / 3:10 pm

    I like the honest post. I agree that there are different rates for Indians and foreigners, but that’s the same at most of the countries. Jaipur is one of the places I really liked in India. It has so much to offer. I think you need to come back to explore more of it 🙂

    • rhiydwi
      25th March 2017 / 3:40 pm

      It’s not the different rates that bothers me (in fact, I agree with it to a certain extent), but the huge inflation! As in, sometimes it’s more than 100 x the amount that locals have to pay, which is just insane. And I actually have only ever come across that in Asia and South America!
      I LOVED everything about Jaipur, and Rajasthan in general! I do really want to go back and maybe spend a whole month or two there soon.

  15. 25th March 2017 / 4:17 pm

    I visited Jaipur as a kid on a family vacation but i am sure i will appreciate it more now. It looks beautiful and different from the part of India I am from. I am glad you liked Jaipur. And I totally know what you mean by ticket prices being almost 100 times more than tickets for Indians. I deal with it all the time when my husband visits. I get charged the Indian fare and he gets the Foreigner fare. I am not quite sure why the difference is so big.

    • rhiydwi
      27th March 2017 / 12:20 am

      If the price was just double or even triple I wouldn’t think twice about paying it, but I was constantly having to pay upwards of 500 Rupees when my local friends were paying something like 30. Totally bizarre!
      Oh it’s simply stunning! You should definitely travel there as an adult if you get the chance.

  16. 25th March 2017 / 7:23 pm

    It is actually Amer fort. We were in Rajasthan last year and covered all these places. The forts and the palaces are so amazing. I hope you did get a chance to shop near Hawa Mahal. Jaipur is such a vibrant city with so much color to it.

    • rhiydwi
      27th March 2017 / 12:23 am

      Oh thank you for clarifying! I honestly asked everybody I could and they were all saying different things.

  17. Riely
    25th March 2017 / 11:07 pm

    This post was hilarious and so informative, both of which I enjoyed. Such a shame that tourists get stuck paying 10x the amount of tickets to sites than locals. But from your photos of the ‘Amber Fort’ and Palace, the exterior looked just as nice to stare at in awe. I would love to explore Jaipur one day. PS I love that you saw a cow outside the fort in the water! That comment made me laugh.

    • rhiydwi
      27th March 2017 / 12:25 am

      A few of my Indian friends have come back to me by saying “but we have to pay more in your country too” except they really, really don’t! The exterior of everything over there is honestly so beautiful, I don’t think I ever felt the need to enter inside, although I’m sure it’s equally as gorgeous. And the cow was the icing on top of an already very tasty cake for me that day 😉

  18. 26th March 2017 / 11:13 am

    Your photography is stunning what camera and lens do you use? Also, I can see the confusion about the Amber Fort. It helps to standardize the spelling! I hate how they charge 10x the price for foreigners. I wonder what it would have been like to go inside!

    • rhiydwi
      27th March 2017 / 12:29 am

      I mostly just use my iPhone to be honest! The photos in this post are from my old iPhone 5c. It’s hard to take a bad photo of these places though, I honestly think you could hand a monkey a flip-phone and they’d turn out almost the same!

  19. 27th March 2017 / 12:19 am

    India was hit or miss with me. I liked some places more than others. I enjoyed my time in Jaipur and the pink architecture was A-1. I never got to the monkey temple! 3000+ monkeys? That is a huge amount. Not sure I could handle them surrounding me! I can relate with the elephants and camels, they were roaming all around me when I was there too!

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