Royal character

, TRAVEL

The Pink City of Jaipur, India, lives up to its reputation as one of the most colourful cities in the country. Its enchanting bazaars, its perfectly laid-out streets and the grand, regal monuments bear testimony to a flamboyant past.

What to do

Jaipur is home to some of the biggest forts in India. The Amer Fort, also called Amber Fort, was built in the late 1500s by Maharaja Man Singh. You can either take an elephant or a jeep ride to go inside the fort. Original residence of the royal family, take a moment to admire the magnificent inlay work in the Sheesh Mahal (Hall of Mirrors). The idyllic courtyards, colourful rooms and mirror-mosaic halls of the fort are a huge draw for history buffs. There is a light and sound show in the evening too, which narrates the fort’s history in Hindi and English.

Next to Amber Fort is the Jaigarh Fort. Built in the 18th century, the highlight here is the Jai Vana, one of the world’s largest cannon on wheels. Constructed in around 1720, the cannon had an impressive firing range of around 30km. The fort also houses an armoury and museum, which display weapons, old photographs and maps, and royal objects.

The city’s most striking landmark, Hawa Mahal is famous for its pink latticed windows and balconies. Also referred to as ‘Palace of Winds’, it was constructed in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh. Built with red and pink sandstone, the five-storey monument was used by the women in the royal family to observe the city’s processions without being seen. Next on your list should be Jal Mahal, a picturesque water palace, located in the middle of the Man Sagar Lake. While the palace is closed to the public, you can behold the mesmerising sight of the palace that appears to float in the centre of the lake.

Where to shop

The bylanes of Jaipur are filled with bejewelled ornaments, and there’s nothing that you can’t find here. If you are looking out for silverware, semi-precious stones, and other handcrafted jewellery, head to Chameli Market on MI Road. Johari Bazar is the place to buy precious gemstones,  handmade necklaces, semi-precious stones and jewellery. Tripolia Bazaar is known for its lac jewellery and varieties of bangles. Shop for textiles in Tripolia Bazaar. Chandpole Bazaar is where you can come across handicrafts, carvings made out of marble and other handlooms.

What to eat

Rajasthani food is famous for the variety of masalas (spices) they use in their cuisine. For vegetarians, Gatte ki sabji and Pyaaz kachori are the must haves. You can’t return without trying the Dal bati churma. A wholesome Rajasthani meal, here lentil curry is served with a roundel of stuffed flour that’s baked in a charcoal fire or oven. Churma is a sweet dish made with flour, jaggery or sugar and ghee. If you’re a non-vegetarian and have tried Laal maas, try junglee maas, a mutton dish cooked in just red chillies, garlic, onion and oodles of ghee. It’s a traditional tribal recipe from the Aravalli Hills.

Where to stay

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.

If you are looking for options nearby the airport, Clarks Amer is a good choice. The first 5-star hotel of the Pink City, the property has 214 luxurious rooms and is famous for hosting one of the best restaurants in Jaipur, Dholamaru. A lot of Rajasthani influence can be seen in Dholamaru restaurant not only in terms of the architecture but also food. The laal maas here is a speciality.

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