A panoramic view Amber Fort, Maotha Lake and the Aravalli Range in Jaipur, India
travel guide

Jaipur: the Pink City of India

Simran Raju

Contributing writer

Famed for being the Paris of India, Jaipur is a beautiful city which showcases the history and cultural heritage of Rajasthan. Jaipur is the capital and the largest city in Rajasthan, a region synonymous bright (and somewhat overwhelming) colours, reflected in its clothes, paintings and architecture.

Dominated by beautiful pink buildings, Jaipur is part of the Golden triangle - a popular travel route through Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. If you are planning a trip to north India, Jaipur is a must-visit destination. Here's what you need to know when before travelling to Jaipur.

View over Jaipur city with details of Palace architecture

Why is Jaipur called the Pink City?

Firstly, it's worth noting that the buildings are a terracotta pink - a shade some may consider closer orange. Regardless the colour dominates the city. The origin of the pink buildings was in 1876, when Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales (and later King Edward VII, Emperor of India) visited India.

At that time, pink was the colour of hospitality and the Maharaja of Jaipur, Ram Singh, had the whole city painted pink to welcome the royal guests. The prince described Jaipur as the ‘pink city’ and the name stuck. In 1877, the Maharaja passed a law that the pink colour would be maintained for any future buildings in the city.

Best time to visit Jaipur

The best time to visit Jaipur is during the cooler season between October to mid April. Summers in North India are quite harsh so avoid those months if you can. There are also a number of festivals worth visiting in India - many of which fall between January and March (see below), and you may want to time your visit to coincide with one of these.

How to get around Jaipur

Getting around Jaipur is pretty easy with many transport options to choose from. Cabs are a great option. You can book a cab for your entire trip or from point to point (we recommend pre-booking your cab for the entire trip). Uber is a great option, however try not to book a cab via the hotel reception. They tend to keep a cut and the rate will be exorbitantly high.

Don't miss taking an auto (tuk-tuk) ride on the streets of Jaipur to feel the vibe of this vibrant city. Don’t engage an auto for your whole trip but one auto ride is a must. Every auto has a meter, so always make the auto driver turns it on before the ride starts.

Looking across the lake at the Amber Fort at sunset

Forts and castles in Jaipur

Jaipur is renowned for its beautiful forts that showcase the city's legendary historic battles and architectural prominence. Here are some of the most magnificent forts in Jaipur.

Amber (Amer) Fort

About 11 kilometers from the city center this military fortress stands tall on a hilltop overlooking the Moata Lake. First constructed in the late 16th century, the castle is made with red sandstone, marble, and glass. This fort stands witness to great Hindu and Muslim architecture with remarkable places like Sheesh Mahal, Sukh Niwas, and Shila Devi temple inside the fort. The fort looks its best after dusk and there are captivating sound and light shows. You can also visit the fort as a day trip, combined with a few other attractions.

Nahargarh Fort

With a name meaning "the abode of tigers", Nahargarh Fort is built over the Aravalli ranges and has defended Jaipur against the enemies through many wars. This castle overlooks the pink city rewarding visitors with mesmerising views. The fort was reportedly haunted by the spirit of Nahar Singh Bhomia who obstructed the construction of this castle. Only once his temple inside the fort was complete were they able to resume the construction. As a result, the building was called the Nahargarh fort. The Nahargarh water walk is peaceful and fascinating way to learn more about this ancient structure.

Jaigarh Fort

The ‘Victory fort’ of Jaipur, Jaigarh Fort has sweeping views over the Aravalli hills. It's a beautiful example of Indo-Persian architecture and is a self-sufficient building with granaries, water reserves, and a storage system.

Built with red sandstone, the fort has huge walls and watchtowers. You'll find many fascinating artifacts on display here, including some of the historical armories including ‘Jaivana’, the biggest canon of the 18th Century.

An aerial view of the pink City Palace in Jaipur

Famous places to visit in Jaipur

There is a huge amount to see and do in Jaipur, from fairytale palaces and historical sites to museums and galleries. Here are just a few must-visit destinations in Jaipur to add to your itinerary.

The City Palace

Right in the heart of Jaipur lies the City Palace. One of the best attractions of the city, the palace is home to the royal family which still resides in part of the buidling. Within the complex is Mubarak Mahal, a museum displaying textiles and costumes adorned by the royals in the past.

Seven storied Chandra Mahal within the complex has Mukut Mahal, Ranga Mandir, Shri Niwas, Sukh Niwas and a museum. There are also a number of temples, pavilions and gardens to stroll around.

Hawa Mahal

Hawa Mahal, also known as the ‘Palace of Winds’ is a five-storey lattice structure resembling a bee-hive and was constructed to resemble the crown of Lord Krishna. The palace is built with red and pink sandstones and has 953 intricate small windows designed for the Rajput women to see the daily happenings of the city while still remaining unseen themselves.

This intricate lattice work only allows cool air to pass through it even in the peak of summers – hence the name. Interestingly enough, this place has no stairs leading to the upper floors, rather sloped floors.

The Jal Mahal water palace in Jaipur

Jal Mahal

Standing magnificent in the center of the Man Sagar Lake, this palace is a design marvel. Visit at sunset and in the evenings to see the palace at its most romantic, although a stroll through the place’s walkways is a worthwhile experience. Tourists cannot visit the interior of the building, however but the walkways around the palace are open for visitors to soak in its grandeur.

Jantar Mantar

A UNESCO World heritage site, Jantar Mantar is an astronomical observatory which helps in calculating time and interpreting the position of celestial bodies. There are five Jantar Mantars all over India but Jaipur one is the best maintained. It was built by the founder of Jaipur, Rajput king Sawai Jai Singh II. This location has 19 astronomical instruments and the world’s largest stone sundial.

Albert Museum

The building of Albert Museum in itself makes for a royal view. Built by British, it was a concert hall before it was turned into a museum. Now the most popular museum in Jaipur, Albert Museum has 16 galleries displaying historical artifacts, antiques, paintings, sculptures etc. As well as artwork by local craftspeople, visitors may also come across gifts by international dignitaries to the royal family of Jaipur.

A woman and musicians performing at the Gangaur Festival in Jaipur

Fairs and festivals in Jaipur

The festivities held in this magnificent city every year are yet another rationale to experience the culture, customs and the colors of Jaipur. A number of famous Indian festivals are celebrated in Jaipur, including Diwali and Holi. Here are some other popular festivals you can experience during your visit to Jaipur.

Teej Festival

Among the most celebrated festivals in Jaipur, this festival holds great religious and sentimental significance. Teej festival marks the beginning of monsoon season and lasts for two days in the Hindu month of Shravan (July-August).

Single women celebrate this day in hopes of finding the husband of their dreams, while married women hope of their husbands lead long and healthy lives. Festooned with ethnic jewelry and ravelled woven clothes, the idol of Teej Mata is on display. The festival is celebrated with traditional songs and folk dances and temples of Jaipur are decorated with extra light and decorations.

Jaipur Literature Festival

The largest literary festival conducted in Asia Pacific, the Jaipur Literature Festival, is held every January. The five-days festival attracts local and international guests. Here you get to interact with your favourite authors and listen to around 250 Indian as well international speakers.

Jaipur International Film Festival

Set up in the year 2009, this festival embarks the beginning of a new era in the history of Indian Cinema. A way of promoting cultural exchange amongst natives of India and the rest of the world, it takes place in the last week of January. The festival provides opportunities for upcoming artists to enter into the world of film.

The International Kite Festival

When the skies of Jaipur are covered with colourful, enthralling kites, the entire city gathers to celebrate the festival of Uttarayan. Marking the beginning of the Indian New Year, the international kite festival is held for three days in January.

Aerial view of pink buildings in Jaipur, India

Where to stay in Jaipur

A huge number of people visit Jaipur each year and there is no shortage of accommodation in the city. From hotels to guesthouses and Airbnbs, visitors to Jaipur have plenty of options to choose from. It's also a big city, with many areas to stay in. Here are a few of our favourites to give you some ideas on where to stay with you visit this remarkable city.

Sansarchandra Road and Station road

This is the perfect location if visiting Jaipur attractions is on your mind. While the sightseeing is excellent, the area can be a bit dusty and too noisy for many.

Stay at Hotel Arya Niwas in a renovated palace near the major sites or Dera Mandawa for family-friendly rooms.

Bani Park

An upmarket and safe location near the railway station, Bani Park has good budget options. If you're intending on shopping during your visit, this makes a great place to stay.

Stay at the Laxmi Palace for a boutique hotel with gorgeous architecture and comfortable rooms.

Amber Fort and Mansagar Lake

One of the best options for first-timers visitors and couples is staing around the Amber fort and the artificial Mansagar lake area. There are many ritzy resorts in this stretch - perfect if you want calm and a peaceful stay.

Stay at Trident Jaipur for breathtaking views of Mansagar Lake and the Aravalli Range.

Raja Park

Close to the Jaipur airport, this location is suitable for shoppers and foodies with main markets being in close proximity to hotels.

If you prefer international hotel chains, there are plenty of options to choose from near the airport. Just be aware that you might miss the traditional Jaipur vibe, which other hotels have to offer.

Ghevar, a local sweet, on a tray scattered with rose petals

Foods to try in Jaipur

The capital city of Jaipur is renowned not only for its colorful street markets, historic forts and royal palaces but also for its delectable cuisine. Every culinary soul always has The Pink City on their travel wish list. If you aren't sure where to begin and find all the options overwhelming, consider a food tour to taste some of the local dishes. Otherwise, here are some must-try foods in the city.

Pyaz Kachori

A deep-fried pastry filled with fried onions known as "pyaz kachori" is one of the favorite snacks of the locals.

Ker Sangri with Bajre ki roti

Ker Sangri is a Rajasthani delicacy that is made using dried Ker berries and Sangri beans. You'll usually find it paired with bajre ki roti and pickles in Jaipur.

Gatte ki sabzi

Mainly served as a side dish, gatte ki sabzi is made of gram flour dumplings called gatte, soaked in tangy curd based gravy with a spicy twist.

Dal, Batti, Churma

A must-have dish with the blend of three sole delicacies, dal (curry), batti (roasted dumplings) and churma (sweet dish), this is Jaipur's speciality. Whether it's a fine-dining establishment or a roadside dhaba, practically every restaurant in Jaipur serves the famed dish.

Laal Maas

Laal maans is an appetizing dish consisting of slow-cooked mutton curry with a gravy made with yogurt and spices from Rajasthan.

Ghevar

Ghevar is a Rajasthani sweet traditionally associated with the Teej Festival. It is disc-shaped, and made from oil, flour and sugar syrup. Be sure to try this popular sweet delicacy when you visit Jaipur.

People shopping at Bapu Bazaar in Jaipur

What to buy in Jaipur

The markets and bazaars in Jaipur and known for their beautiful handicrafts and make wonderful souvenirs and gifts to take home. Here are some items you may want to buy when you're in Jaipur.

Jewellery

Colouful, lustrous stones and graceful, gold and silver jewellery are available in the markets. Jaipur’s intricate work impresses many. However, be more aware about the prices and check 2-3 shops before finalizing your purchase. Watch out for the kundan meena gemstone. Among the popular markets to buy jewellery are MI Road, Tripolia Bazaar, Johari Bazaar and Chaura raasta.

Jaipuri quilts and bedspreads

Look out for pure-cotton Jaipuri quilts, with their spectacular soothing colors and impressive prints which are an integrant of the Jaipuri tradition. These quilts are light to carry as they have cotton fillings but they are voluminous.

If you love colors, you will love Jaipuri bedsheets. The embroidery on them is beautiful and on some you will find hand block prints. The designs are beautiful but remember a few of these colors tend to bleed. If you purchase them, wash them separately when back home.

Clothes, shoes and handbags

Coming to personal stuff they have beautiful shoes called Mojris. Their handbags are colorful with mirror work on them. If you are looking for some Indian attire, Jaipur is a great place to shop for sarees, specialties being bandhej and bandhani sarees.

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Simran Raju

Author - Simran Raju

Simran Raju is a travel writer based in Delhi, India. As well as travelling extensively throughout India, Simran has visited many destinations in the US, UK and Europe. She particularly enjoys experiencing different cuisines and cultures when she travels.

Last Updated 24 July 2022

The Taj Mahal at sunset

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