My knowledge of Jaipur is limited to the pink coloured walls of the old city that tend to pull you into its past, filled with grand Rajput palaces, elephant rides, and the existence of a supposedly thriving handicrafts and fabrics industry. Famous for being a shopper’s paradise, I’ve personally witnessed people (Indians and even those who come from the less-populated lands of sober colours) fly down to Rajasthan with empty suitcases which will soon be overflowing with a variety of dress material and jewellery. While these things aren’t completely outside my domain of interests, the pressure to make the best use of my precious time by going to all the right places and getting the best bargain possible often gets to me.
Jaipur’s growth into a flamboyant tourist destination in the past decade has split the city’s blueprint into binaries; a converging point for the old and the new to come together. Its pink walls are complemented by feats of modern architecture, roadside dhabas serving up Rajasthani cuisine alongside fine dining restaurants, and street shopping by the barrage of boutiques that have opened up in the recent years. As Kichu Dandiya, a Jaipur-based entrepreneur, tells us, “I think in Jaipur you need to have a combination of both boutique and street shopping because with boutique shopping you get access to a lot of designers you normally wouldn’t. And with street shopping, you always get the best bargain.”
So in order to save you the effort of having to unnecessarily go through loads and loads of TripAdvisor reviews, we spoke to a couple of Jaipur’s residents themselves, Kichu Dandiya and Insia Lacewalla (the woman behind Jaipur’s luxury boutique guesthouse 28 Kothi), to come up with a 48-hour itinerary that best explores the nooks and crannies of the city.
Best Time To Visit
Winters are undoubtedly the best time of the year to visit the Jaipur. Between November and March, the weather at night can often drop as low as 14 degrees, so carry warm clothes accordingly for even in the desert state of India, the winters can leave you shivering in the dead of the night. Jaipur’s winter months are known for its high season tourist population, however, if you’re averse to large crowds and prefer a rather quiet vacation, you can plan your trip during the monsoon season as well. “There’s a good amount of rain, just like Delhi. The weather becomes really nice and the Aravalli Hills look really beautiful. Also, it’s not very inconvenient to get around, despite the rain,” says Kichu.
Best Area To Stay
As a tourist, one of my major concerns always has to do with where I should stay. I’m always looking for areas that are well-connected to major parts of the city but also self-sufficient in case I decide against straying too far. Jaipur’s Civil Lines or C Scheme are safe neighbourhoods with plenty of nightlife, restaurants and stores. These areas are also easily connected to the Old City.
Where To Stay
I. Budget Stay At Arya Niwas
Whether you’re someone who travels frequently for work or just as a tourist, Arya Niwas is a perfect budget stay that comes with its own unique old-world charm. With a well-lit verandah and a front lawn to sip your morning tea, Arya Niwas’ beautifully tiled corridors and well-maintained rooms are quite a delight. They also organise special walking tours around Rajasthan so don’t forget to check that out. The lunch and dinner meals served at Arya Niwas taste almost like home-cooked food, free of unnecessary oil and spices – perfect for the frequent traveller with a homesick palette.
Cost: INR 1,500 for one night (the price is subject to seasonal and availability changes).
II. Barwara Kothi – A Royal Homestay
A colonial villa dating back to the 20th century, Barwara Kothi’s opulence is reflected in its interiors which are reminiscent of the Raj era. Once the residence of Jaipur’s Barwara Royal Family, this place offers a plush homestay experience wherein the guests can interact with the Rajput family still living there over home-cooked meals and evening snacks.
Cost: INR 6,000 for one night, including breakfast for two people.
III. The Royal Experience At Alsisar Haveli
Located in the old city, Alsisar Haveli is one of Jaipur’s most famous heritage hotels known for its regal architecture and magnificent hospitality. Once a Rajput residence, it was converted into a hotel only in 1994. The haveli is also located very close to MI road, which is lined with a number of shopping options and eateries. With lush gardens, plenty of open space, and a swimming pool to cool off at any time of the day, Alsisar Haveli is a great option if you want that typical Rajasthan experience.
Cost: INR 6,000 for one night.
IV. Bed And Breakfast At Magpie’s Villa
Magpie Villa is an oasis of peace situated amidst the growing hustle and bustle of Jaipur. Run by s Jaipur family with a great passion for the city’s history and heritage, the area is also home to an indigenous bird species called Magpie-robin; probably inspiring the name of this bed and breakfast as well. Magpie’s Villa is also at a quick walking distance from Jaipur’s iconic Raj Mandir cinema hall. The owners of the BnB too are very helpful and can probably assist you in planning your itinerary as well.
Cost: INR 2,500 for single/double occupancy room.
How To Get Around
Jaipur’s public transportation system mainly comprises cycle rickshaws, auto rickshaws, and cab services. While cycle rickshaws are obviously the cheaper alternative, it is preferable to travel around by Uber as it costs the same as auto rickshaws and is much more reliable and comfortable.
V. Breakfast With A View At Peacock Rooftop Restaurant
Begin your day with an early morning run and maybe drop by at the Peacock Rooftop Restaurant which opens up at 7 am. From smoothies to cold-pressed juices to eggs and other Indian breakfast options like Vada Pav etc., their menu has something for every kind of breakfast-eater.
Cost: INR 900 for two.
VI. Amer Road For Jaipur’s Famous Textiles And Other Local Handicraft
The city of Jaipur has always held an interesting reputation for being home to some of the most gorgeous, authentic textiles. So we’d recommend heading towards Amer Road before the sun gets too hot. Amer road is famous for its wide variety of block printing textiles that range from basic, solid colours to vibrant floral patterns. Look out for ‘Riddi Siddhi Textiles’ and ‘Saurashtra Impex’ on Amer road as they’re both good for basic block print textiles. You can also buy fabrics by the metre along with other home decor accessories like quilts, cushion covers, and dari carpets. Also, if you’re looking for quirky lights, there’s a light shop right outside Hawa Mahal! And if you’re interested in exploring Jaipur’s traditional crafts like blue pottery, then Amer Road is once again your go-to place.
VII. A Hearty Afternoon Meal At Shri Khandelwal Pavitra Bhojnalaya
To recover from your shopping spree at Amer Road, you can visit a nearby restaurant serving up delicious North Indian cuisine (we promise this won’t burn a hole in your pocket). While the ambience here isn’t top notch, the food certainly is. Known for its delectable flavours and prompt service, this eatery is a cherished part of Jaipur’s culture and heritage. Try their simple dishes like Dal Fry and Ghatta Masala and decide for yourself.
Also, Khandelwal Bhojnalaya is located on the way to Jal Mahal and Amer Fort. So if you’re up for some sight-seeing and adventure, head there straight after lunch.
Cost: INR 350 for two.
VIII. Raj Mandir Cinema For Old School Cinephiles
A meringue-shaped auditorium reminiscent of late Art Deco style architecture, Raj Mandir Cinema is one of Jaipur’s prestigious symbols of culture. A functioning cinema hall since 1976, Raj Mandir has screened some of the most iconic Bollywood blockbusters and continues to do so even today. It’s recommended that you catch at least one show here and witness its beautiful interiors tainted with history and authenticity that has been preserved for the past four decades. The movie ticket prices here are much cheaper than what you’d pay at a PVR or an INOX any day.
IX. Narain Niwas
Over the years, the area surrounding Narain Niwas Palace in Jaipur has transformed into a cultural hub of sorts. With two popular dining destinations called Bar Palladio and Shikaar Bagh and a whole range of boutique stores like Idli and Hot Pink, which is one of Jaipur’s first few high-end women’s boutique stores, Narain Niwas has become the go-to destination for locals who wish to unwind on a Friday evening or simply step out for some much-needed retail therapy during the day.
While you’re in the vicinity, you can also opt for a cycle tour of the Pink city organised by Narain Niwas Hotel, which will take you from ‘Ghat ki Ghuni’ – a gateway to Jaipur’s lesser-known eastern treasures.
X. Delicious Mutton Dishes At Spice Court
Located at Civil Lines, this place is one of the must-visits of Jaipur. Known specifically for its mutton dishes, Spice Court’s food is guaranteed to leave you in the ultimate food coma of your life. The food portions here are huge. Try their Laal Maas, which is a spicy mutton preparation cooked in dry chilli. The Kheema bhati here (a non-vegetarian alternative to dal bhati) is another one of their specialities. If you’re visiting on a weekend, it’s advisable to make a reservation first as this place is always crowded and the waiting list might just kill your appetite. And for the adventurers, we’d say, go for their Jungli maas – supposedly the spiciest dish on their menu.
Cost: INR 1000 for two people.
XI. Panditji Kulfi For Authentic Indian Flavours
There’s nothing better than a good old kulfi to end a hearty meal in joy. While kulfi pretty much everywhere tastes the same, there’s something about the ambience of Panditji Kulfi that makes you want to come back and relive the kulfi outings from your childhood. Another thing that makes this place stand out is their home delivery, their neatly packed boxes of wholesome Indian flavours available right at your doorstep.
Cost: INR. 100 for two.
XII. Lassi wala To Kick Start Your Day
One of MI Road’s most sought-after roadside shops, Lassi Wala at MI Road is quite popular even among the tourists. Be it any time of the day, there’s always a huge crowd of people lining up to try the rich and creamy lassi served here. An authentic experience served in a kulhad, this place also serves other yoghurt preparations like chaach, simple curd etc. So begin your morning with a tall glass of lassi served with a dollop of malai and head out for more exciting, tourist-like things to do.
XIII. View Of The City From Nahargarh Fort
Standing at the edge of the Aravalli Hills overlooking the Pink city, the Nahargarh fort provides a bird’s eye view of Jaipur. With the city’s skeleton laid out in front of you and the beautiful sunset complementing the panoramic vista, this fort is a lovely spot to just relax, unwind, and take in the gorgeous sight. Entry is free and the drive up to the fort is mesmerising. Although, during monsoon, the steps leading to the fort tend to get a little slippery so be careful and carry appropriate trekking gear.
XIV. Chameli Market For Silver Jewellery And Other Thrifty Finds
While the bylanes of Jaipur are filled with bejewelled ornaments, there’s nothing quite as comparable to the Chameli market at MI road. Tourists often miss this little area as it tends to merge with the rest of MI Road, which is already bustling with a whole bunch of other tourist attractions. Look out for silverware, semi-precious stones, and other handcrafted jewellery. While some are displayed behind easily discoverable glass windows, others are hidden in basement shops that can’t be located at one glance and might need a little more effort, but it’ll be totally worth it.
XV. Sharma Dhaba To Get A Taste Of Local Food With Local People
Another one of Jaipur’s priceless gems, Sharma dhaba is known for its authentic North Indian and Rajasthani cuisine. This eatery is located a little far off from Jaipur city, on Sikaar road, but the drive is quite worth the food as well as the scenery you will come across. Locals swear by the naan available here, it’s fresh, melt-in-your-mouth goodness you won’t get anywhere else. With its bamboo stools and a purple shamiana overlooking the dining area, Sharma Dhaba reimagines a classic dhaba atmosphere to suit the modern day aesthetic of Jaipur, something that’s very intriguing. Try their dal fry and paneer dishes and thank us later.
Cost: INR. 500 for two.
XVI. Jhalana Safari For The Nature Lovers
Located on the outskirts of the city, Jhalana safari is a mini safari that has recently opened up in Jaipur. From leopards to striped Hyenas, Desert Fox and Golden Jackal, this place is a must-visit for not just those interested in spotting the mighty leopard but also bird-watchers and wildlife enthusiasts who don’t wish to embark upon a full-fledged wildlife trip. There are currently 30 leopards living in Jhalana. Unlike other safaris in the country, this one is located at almost an hour’s distance from the city with both morning and afternoon safari batches.
XVII. Kachori At Bagadiya Bhawan
Located at Prithviraj Marg, Bagadiya Bhawan is one of those local treasures that can’t be discovered by a mere Zomato search. Almost like a hole in the wall, this little eatery is famous for the crowd that gathers here every evening to indulge in deep-fried Indian snacks like kachori and samosa. Bagadiya Bhawan also does really good Sunday morning breakfast spreads – so if possible, give it a try. We promise you won’t be disappointed.
XVIII. A Walk Through Jaipur’s Central Park
While most visit Jaipur and get lost in the sea of fabrics and textiles, of boutique hotels and fancy dining restaurants, of palaces, and food comas, it is the little joys, that might seem commonplace from afar, they miss out on. A walk down Central Park, on an evening when the weather is being kind, is one such joy. A 4 km stretch that runs through horse stables and polo grounds and the city centre, Central Park is a lovely way to just sit back and absorb the city’s candid beauty set against the Aravalli Hills.
XIX. Cafe Palladio – Fine Dining At Its Best
Pastel interiors, pistachio marble flooring, a spacious patio, and an unparalleled fine dining experience – such is the splendour of Cafe Palladio located in Narain Singh Circle. The outdoor seating here is best enjoyed during the winters. Inspired by the cuisine of Sicily, Cafe Palladio serves a variety of cold soups, salads, and freshly baked Italian sandwiches. However, it’s their desserts that steal the show. Turkish Baklava (thin layers of honey and pistachio pastry, Palladio peaches, Ricotta Cassatelle (sweet ricotta and chocolate puff pastry) – it’s all up for grabs.
Cost: INR 2000 for two.
XX. Anokhi Cafe – A Home For Your Sweet Tooth
From Sephardic Orange Cake, Vegan Chocolate Pudding topped with toasted coconut and almonds to decadent cheesecakes and tarts, Anokhi Cafe is known for its extensive dessert menu along with other quick bites you can always grab at any time of the day - however, keep in mind that Anokhi Cafe shuts at 7 pm.
Cost: INR 750 for two.
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