No1 budget backpackers guide to Jaipur
The chaotic and colourful capital of Rajasthan is pretty much guaranteed to blow your freakin mind. It could be the magnificent historical ruins that create such a stark contrast to modern Jaipur that gets your attention. Or perhaps its the prospect of getting lost in the maze of tiny streets while you are in search of your next bargain that does it. Whatever the case may be, you have the chance to dine out in some on some of the best food in the country at the end of your busy day.
It may be a big city, but there is a reason tourists flock here in droves. So in my No1 budget backpackers guide to Jaipur, I want to help my readers get the most out of their time because this city is definitely not short of things to keep you entertained.
On arrival, most of us will find the city both intense and enthralling at the same time. Throngs of traffic ply the streets as camels share lanes with gleaming white land rovers. The old way of Indian life collides with the new, and the end result is spectacular. This city should be on any backpackers itinerary to this fabled state.
So hold on to your hats for what is sure to be an enthralling ride into the heart of Rajasthan and what is quite possibly the epitome of Indian culture itself.
Places of interest in Indias great red city.
I am only going to mention the absolute must-see highlights of this city. Because most of us are pressed for time on our holidays and every day counts to us. Here is a brief description of those sites with Wikipedia links for all those history buffs out there. I have not written that in myself, as many of my followers are reading this in a rush and need me to get to the damn point!
In the heart of Jaipur lies the red city. It is an enormous open-air museum of bazaars and palaces. When people call this The Red City its a very fair statement as the whole of the old town is both red and ancient. It is a joy to get lost in the vast tangled web of streets as it is so beautiful and there are photographic opportunities at every turn. There are bargains galore to be had here. So bring your patience and your best poker face because you will need them both.
The iconic Hawa Mahal is stunning and is sure to catch your attention. With its honeycomb structure dominating the streets below, it stands out from a distance. It was built-in 1799 to house the ladies of the royal household and cater to there leisurely pursuits in privacy. A trip inside is well worth the 200 rupees they ask for, and you can easily imagine the view they must have had as you look down at the city streets from this timeless palace.
Adjacent to the Hawa Mahal is the Jantar Mantar. Its construction began in 1728, and for me, it feels like a giant piece of abstract art. It is, in fact, an ancient observatory although that is far from apparent. It is 200 rupees for entrance and well worth it. If not for any other reason than to satisfy the burning curiosity of how it could possibly work? The answer to that question is an elusive one to even to the most imaginative of us. It has a striking resemblance to a Dali painting in my humble opinion, but, there is a method to the madness.
Right slap bang in the middle of the old town is the city palace. It is a bit pricy at 500 rupees for entrance plus camera fee. But it is a sight to behold with its palace, armoury and galleries to marvel at. It will take a while to see everything, so remember to budget the time.
Try and see all these sights on a loop as the old town is quite large. At the bottom of the page, I have provided a tourist map. When you enter the old town, find out what gate you entered through and work your route from there. Jaipur lays on the fringes of the Great Thar Desert, so you don’t want to be walking around more than you need to be.
The magnificent Amber Fort.
Just a short bus ride away is the magnificent Amber Fort, and when I say magnificent, I really mean it. It is hard not to be blown away from its presence. The 500 rupees asked to get inside seems trivial for what you get. The fading grandeur of its halls and courtyards will leave you jaw dropped. The royals who once lived here would have lived a very lavish lifestyle indeed, and it is not hard for any visitor to be able to appreciate that.
This imposing fort dominates the whole area, and its battlements run along the Aravali mountains. I really admire the vision of its creators because someone somewhere could see this monster on a bare mountain in there mind’s eye. It understandably has a long and exciting history that is a joy to discover.
It is surrounded by massive walls that meander there way over the Aravali mountains in every direction. There is yet another fort crowning the palace itself, and that is an additional 200 rupees to see. It is a very full day to try and visit and take it all but just about possible for those with a bit of energy. The views from the battlements adjacent to the fort are incredible if you still want more after your long visit. My most important tip when visiting here is to start early to beat the midday sunshine.
On the way over here you will pass the Jal Mahal or Jaipur water palace. This building is so beautiful it would be a shame to miss it. So my advice is to get an auto-rickshaw one way to Amber. It will stop for you to take in the incredible view of this once vital source of water. You will undoubtedly be mobed by vendors while you do so, unfortunately. Don’t be discouraged though, as it is worth the stress. Unless of course, you want whatever it is they are selling, then it is a blessing.
Get the bus back, and it will drop you off in the top right-hand corner of the old town in Jaipur. The bus stop is very close to the Hawa Mahal so you can quickly get your orientation when you return. It is a simple but long walk back to the hotel if you decide to stay at my suggestion.
Get the rickshaw to the fort as it can be hard to find the tiny bus-stop, and it helps with your early start. On the way back the bus stops right outside the fort so you can’t miss it. Try not to have any big luggage with you as the bus gets really cramped, and that is impractical. If you don’t feel like walking all the back to the hotel, get any bus back to the central bus stand and walk from there.
Getting a nights rest.
I have travelled to Jaipur dozens of times and have always stayed at the same place. Karni Niwas is in a quiet area back of the busy M1 road. So it is very central to everything and the family are very accommodating to your needs. The food is good, and the rooms are reasonably priced for what you are getting. If it is not broke then don’t try to fix it and I find this hotel is a home away from home. Go to booking.com to reserve a room although walking in is just fine.
It is super close to both the train and bus station. It is not wise to walk from the train station as you have to cross a busy flyover with no pavements. However, the walk to the bus stop will only take a few minutes. If you do need a rickshaw, it should not cost you more than thirty rupees. The staff in the hotel will drive you if you ask them nicely.
Getting a bite to eat.
As for eating, you are spoiled for choice in this city. My favourite place to get your teeth into classic Rajasthani cuisine is the old takeaway and kebab shop on the M1 road. While there are many places with the same name, this one is the original. You will find it next to the mosque on the left-hand side. The Laal mass (a fiery Rajasthani mutton curry) is the best I have ever tried, and the chicken tikka kebabs are insanely good. All are served with paper-thin Roomali Rotis and coriander chutney.
There is also a Moti Mahal Delux if you want to continue your culinary carnival. While it is not the real deal, it does whip up some lip-smacking curries. All along this road, there are many places you can fill your boots of authentic Indian cuisine. The problem is you can only eat so much!
Getting there and away.
Getting to and from Jaipur is a breeze. As the capital of the state, it is connected to everywhere. Buses leave the government bus station frequently to Agra, Dehli, Bundi, Udaipur etc. Small side note about buses in Rajasthan, is that a woman gets a discount on their tickets. Sometimes bus drivers “forget” that, so double-check you are being charged correctly.
The train station has a tourist window (counter 769), and that makes the otherwise chaotic booking hall much less of a challenge to organise something. Again train lines fan out in all directions from here, so it is easy to get to your next destination. If you are heading to Dehli, I have found the Ajmer Shatabdi (train number 12016) to be fast and comfortable. It leaves at 5.50 pm and arrives at 10.40 pm to New Dehli where most tourists will be staying anyway, so it is very convenient.
For more information getting around this vast subcontinent, check out my in-depth post on the issue. It can seem like a daunting task to navigate your way around, so I am here to help with that. You will find it is packed full of information, and it includes my personal tricks and tips to help you on your dream trip to incredible India.
Summary of my No1 budget backpackers guide to Jaipur.
There is an excellent reason tourists flock here, and I wanted to let help you make the most out of your time. This post is not as long as others I have read on the net. Instead, it is direct and to the point. Most people will spend a maximum of three days here, and that’s it. What I have written about are the highlights and what I advise you to see with your time.
These are definitely the best things to do here and its just about possible with three very full days to see all of the attractions listed. So I can say with confidence this is the No1 budget backpackers guide to Jaipur as I am not wasting your time with any extra recommendations to make my post longer. While there are plenty more things to see and do here with what is likely a very small time frame, every precious moment counts.
With that being said that about wraps it up and if you do have any more questions, then don’t hesitate to ask as I am always happy to help. Even with attractions, you have read about that is not covered here. So until the next time my fellow intrepid travellers, happy trails.
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