The streets and markets of this colourful and busy capital of Rajasthan, with its palaces and bazaars full of jewellery, textiles and folk-based arts, make Jaipur a thoroughly wonderful city to explore.Known as the Pink City for the terracotta colour of its walls and buildings inside the old city (painted that colour, the colour of welcome when visited by Edward, Prince of Wales in 1876), there are so many wonderful sights, temples and places to visit. of jewellery, textiles and folk-based arts, make Jaipur a thoroughly wonderful city to explore.Inside the city itself the City Palace and Observatory (Jai Singh, the founder of Jaipur, was a keen astronomer and astrologer) are wonderful, as is the landmark building, the Hawa Mahal, or Palace of the Winds.Before Jai Singh moved his capital to the planned city of Jaipur, the Maharajahs ruled in Amber, just a short distance away to the north. The Palace and Fort at Amber are one of the highlights of Rajasthan.
Floating palaces in the centre of lakes, hilltop fortresses and temples are just more of the architectural wonders on offer.
Jaipur is so much more than this though. The capital of Rajasthan, and only 4 hours by road from Delhi, Jaipur is fast becoming a modern and westernised city (by Indian terms anyway), whilst still retaining a true Rajasthani feel.
The contrast is evident when exploring the shops and bazaars. Walk down the busy MI Road past the high-street chain stores, restaurants and cafes and you are in the modern world. Turn a corner and enter into the old city through the Pink portals of one of the old city gates, and you’re in another world of colourful tie-dye fluorescent fabrics, shop after shop of gemstones and jewellery, markets dedicated to Mojari’s and Jooti’s (Jaipuri shoes), block-printed fabrics, stone carvings, flowers and perfumes, wooden furniture, iron & brassware & countless handicrafts.
Jaipur’s contrasts don’t end there. Outside an upmarket 5 star hotel, it’s the norm to watch camel carts and elephants wander by. In fact, camels are still one of the most common forms of transportation in Rajasthan, and Jaipur’s population of elephants numbers near 100. The elephants work at Amber Palace, ferrying tourists up to the palace entrance. Although a very controversial part of tourism in Jaipur, the elephants are treated and looked after better now than they were 10-15 years ago, and it is a tourist treat that will not stop any time soon.For me however, the best part about the existence of elephants in Jaipur is that once each year, an Elephant festival is held on the eve of Holi, the colour festival in March. Featuring a procession of bedecked elephants, camels, horses and dancers, elephant polo, elephant races and a tug of war are all parts of this colourful and lively event..