Back in 2007 when I first visited Jaipur I was travelling during the monsoon season when there are few other tourists in India. After travelling on my own through Rajasthan for 3 weeks I was in desperate need to meet some other travellers.
Although I am not a big fan of tours, they can be a great way to meet other people. Therefore I decided to book a citytour with the Rajasthan Tourist Office. I was looking forward to be able to talk english and exchange travelstories.
The next day I entered the tour bus to discover that the bus was full with South Indian families. None of them speaking one word of english. I was the only foreigner and a woman alone so I was welcomed by a lot of staring and giggling. It felt very uncomfortable at first but throughout the day I witnessed how friendly and welcoming Indian people can be.
I was quickly adopted by several Indian families that made it their mission to look over my well-being during this tour. They shared their food with me, bought me drinks and showed me around the sights. In the end this tour was a heartwarming experience showing me the true Indian hospitality.
During my second visit I had more time to explore this big city and its surroundings. After spending a full day wandering through the bazaar and visiting the city palace we hired a tuk tuk the next day to explore the surrounding hills. Below I will share my top 10 of things to see and do in Jaipur.
Travel Guide to the best things to do in Jaipur
1. Amber fort
The most beautiful fort I visited in Rajasthan is the Amber fort. The fort lies on top of a hill and the huge yellow fortifications look impressive from outside, but the real beauty lies within its walls. The fort has different rooms and inner courtyards, all decorated with care. Look at the details, especially in the mirror palace, to find unexpected beauty.
2. Watch the views from Nahargarh Fort
Further up in the Aravalli hills you can find Nahargarh fort overlooking the city. The views are the main reason to visit this fort. The fort is not as impressive as Amber fort, but has a nice rooftopped terrace and a beautifully decorated entrance.
3. The Gaitore Cenotaphs
The Gaitore cenotaphs are the place where many of the former royal rulers were cremated. This place gets surprisingly few visitors even tough the cenotaphs are very pretty. The detailed carvings in the marble tell many stories untold from the past. The cenotaphs are not far from the city, but the place is quiet and serene.
4. Galtaji: The nice monkey temple
Another place that gets few visitors is the local pilgrimage place called Galtaji. It’s a complex of several palaces and temples with very beautiful paintings inside. Galtaji is a peaceful place inhabited by peacocks and monkeys and is therefore sometimes also called monkey temple.
5. Galwh Bagh: The dirty monkey temple
There are actually two monkey temples. Beautiful and clean Galtaji and the more famous, but dirty Galwh Bagh. People come here to feed the tame monkeys and other animals. The stairs leading up to the temple are lined up with beggars, animals and dirt.
It’s one of those Indian experiences you will never forget. Can I recommend a visit? The interaction between the monkeys, goats, pigs and beggars that call this temple their home is interesting to watch and the views on top of the temple are beautiful.
6. City Palace & Janter Mantar
Jaipur’s city palace and the nearby Jantar Mantar, an old astronomical observatory, are among the top touristic site seeings. Quite busy, but interesting to see if you have the time.
7. Walking around Jaipur
Simply walking around town without any specific goal is a nice experience. You will come across friendly people, temples and delicious streetfood options. The best place to walk around is near the city palace and the bazaar.
8. The bazaar
In the bazaar you will understand why Rajasthan’s capital is called the pink city with all it’s red and pink sandstone buildings. It is home to the famous Hawa Mahal that is a high screen wall built so that the women of the royal household could look outside without being seen.
The bazaar is also the place to buy your souvenirs with almost all handicrafts of Rajasthan for bargain prices. If you negotiate well most souvenirs are slightly cheaper here than elsewhere and they have some original souvenirs that we did not see in other places.
9. Al Umar restaurant
This was by far the best restaurant in Rajasthan I have been too. The kebabs are one of the best here. They come in gravy curries with different colours and tastes. The green coloured one (haryali kebab) was absolutely delicious.
The only other restaurant that came close was Time 2 Eat Mama Chicken in Agra
10. Watch a bollywood movie at the Raj Mandir cinema
The Raj Mandir cinema is the best movie theater in Rajasthan. This is the place to watch a bollywood movie. Unfortunately they come without subtitles, but in most cases the storylines are quite obvious.
Accommodation in Jaipur: Vinayak Guesthouse
The clean Vinayak guesthouse was one of my favourite guesthouses in Rajasthan. A nice rooftop restaurant, beautiful rooms, good Wi-fi and friendly people.