India is a colourful place. We do not shy away from bursts of colours and do not care much for camouflage. Nowhere is this more evident than the state of Rajasthan, which has to be one of the most vibrant deserts in the world. One of its cities, Jaipur, known as the Pink City, has old structures with pink facades, but you’ll find the interiors as colourful as the full spectrum of a rainbow.
Jaipur is one of the favourite cities in India for destination weddings. No wonder—with all its palaces and lavish hospitality, you’re made to feel like royalty. Even the locals cannot resist all the photo ops the city offers. Every landmark, even the streets of Jaipur, were filled with people, especially couples, with a camera crew trying to get a shot to last a lifetime!
We had just about two days to see as much as possible in this city. Two days is nowhere near enough to take in this gorgeous city, but you gotta work with what you have!
Jaipur Itinerary for two days
Since we didn’t have a lot of time on our hands, we had to pack in a lot in a day. We had hired a guide for the entire day, which helped us be efficient. His in-depth knowledge of the city and its monuments were fascinating.
If you’re planning to visit a few monuments in a day, check with your travel company for a guide who can accompany you. You can also choose to hire a registered guide at the monument itself. All guides need to be registered with the government there, so make sure you verify their ID cards. Also, in larger places like the City Palace or the Amer fort, having a guide keeps you on track and makes sure you don’t miss the interesting spots.
We saw the Hawa Mahal, City Palace, Jantar Mantar, and the Albert Hall Museum on the first day. At night, we passed by the Jal Mahal on the way to the light show at Amer Fort (which happens outside of the fort).
On day 2, we first went to Patrika Gate for a few pictures. Then the step-wells and the forts of Amer and Nahargarh. We didn’t want to rush things, so we limited ourselves to these few places. Since many of the monuments close by 5:30 in the evening, you cannot see a lot after that. You can use this time to shop along the old bazaars in Jaipur.
It was sad to note that many parts of the structures that used to be accessible to the general public had to be cordoned off because people damaged them or carved out their names on the walls. This is why we can’t have good things!
This iconic monument towers on a busy shopping street. We stopped for a few minutes to take pictures. Do not miss passing by Hawa Mahal at night when it is all lit up. It looks absolutely stunning. A small entrance at the back takes you to the inner courtyard, but we decided to skip it.
Jantar Mantar is a fascinating place. A guide is a must here to understand the intricacies of these structures and the amount of information that scholars could collect from them when all the instruments worked. Kids will enjoy figuring out the time of the day.
The City Palace is impressive. The beautifully painted walls, the courtyards, and the museum galleries are all worth taking time out for. You cannot take pictures inside the galleries, so enjoy browsing through the collection at leisure. The museum store has an artists gallery. They will happily demo how they extract paints from natural materials for miniature paintings. The prices are on par with the street shopping you’ll do.
Albert Hall Museum
The museum has a good collection of various artefacts, but the Egyptian Mummy encased in a glass box is the pièce de résistance.
You can spend about 30 minutes here towards the evening, then watch the structure light up. It looks grand at night, and you’ll find many couples trying to take unique pictures for their albums.
Meena Panna ka Kund Stepwells
This is a short stop before the Amer Fort. People are no longer allowed to step into the well, but it is worth a quick visit to see the structure.
Amer Fort (also known as the Amber Fort)
Our first impression of Amer Fort was during the light and sound show at night. It looked imposing and mighty. The seating is arranged just outside the fort. The show takes you through a brief history of the fort and city in the inimitable voice of the legendary actor Amitabh Bachchan. Check the timings for the English or Hindi versions before booking and carry a jacket if you go in the winter months.
The fort inside is breathtaking—there’s no other word to describe it. Keep aside at least 2 to 3 hours for this mammoth. The courtyards and rooms are so beautifully preserved and restored. The Sheesh Mahal is a wondrous sight. So are the Diwan-e-khaas and Sukh Niwas. You can just imagine yourself living here as a part of the royal family. You will be tempted to stop every ten steps for a picture.
We entered through the Moon Gate so we didn’t have to walk much as our car could go quite near the entrance.
This is best to visit closer to evening time, so you can see the sun set slowly over the ramparts and the city lights slowing coming on like twinkling stars. The drive up to the fort is also beautiful. There’s not a lot to see here since the nine apartments of the queens are all similar. You can just explore a few rooms then head over to the top for the breathtaking view of the city.
It is advisable to have some transportation waiting for you on your return since you won’t be able to book an Uber or Ola from here.
Jaipur has seven gates since it was built as a walled city. Patrika Gate is not one of them. It was built for the pure purpose of photo ops. It is beautifully painted, and every angle gives you a different picture. Go here for the sheer vanity of taking as many pictures as you can. Early mornings are best if you want to avoid the crowds of photography crews.
Right in the middle of the lake is the mesmerising Jal Mahal. It is closed to everyone due to some ongoing dispute, but you can stroll along the promenade if you can handle the stench coming from the water. It is not pleasant.
Where to stay in Jaipur
We started our stay at The Raj Palace right in the middle of the city centre. It is a stone’s throw away from some of the main tourist spots. It is a 300-year old residence of erstwhile royal families, and this heritage hotel is full of splendour. The rooms are quaint, and the passageways and atriums are adorable.
However, there are plenty of stairs to navigate, even if your room is on the ground floor. Another thing to keep in mind is that this is a wedding venue, so if you’re not part of the wedding party, the noise and crowd might not be enjoyable.
We shifted to Loft 24 in the Mansarovar area after attending the wedding. It is far from the madding crowd and quiet at night. We booked a suite room at a very reasonable rate.
The rooms are spacious and clean, and the staff was very helpful. The contemporary decor is fun and simple, starting with the bright red door that welcomes you in. Food was limited in choice but tasted great. They even catered to our requests to make something off-menu. It is about 40 minutes away from the main tourist spots, so factor in that travel time to your day’s plans.
Where to eat in Jaipur
There are plenty of local delicacies to choose from in Jaipur. We had our fill of authentic local cuisine during our stay at the Raj Palace—daal baati churma, laal maas, gatte ki sabzi to name a few.
Listed below are some of the other places we enjoyed eating at.
- Pandit Kulfi near Hawa Mahal is a must-have. It was creamy and delicious. Just what we wanted in the afternoon.
- Tapri Central is a highly-rated hangout place for the locals. Everything we had here was fantastic. The chaat, coffee, jaggery cake, everything was just lip-smacking delicious.
- Steam at the Taj Rambagh Palace gives off royal vibes unlike any other place we’ve seen. A cacophony of peacocks greets you in the vast gardens, and a restored steam engine right near the entrance is the restaurant Steam. We chose to sit inside the train since it was more private, but the outside tables enjoyed live music and fire heaters. The Taj hospitality is incomparable to anything we’ve experienced elsewhere. Pizzas are the speciality here but don’t miss out on the desserts either.
- Padao Nahargarh is at the Nahargarh Fort. You need to pay a Rs 100 entrance fee just to enter here. This place serves alcohol and offers a beautiful view of the city below. The food here is sub-par. Once Upon a Time, a private restaurant was made to shut down to avoid disturbing the wildlife in the area that comes under the Forest Department.
- On the House pizzas were great. We ordered through a food delivery app while staying at Loft 24. They would’ve tasted better piping hot.
- Rawat Mishtan Bhandar and Sodhani Sweets are where you can pick up all the sweetness to have or take home. Ghewar with a variety of toppings, pyaaj kachoris, jalebis, tilkut, just to name a few specialities. They have numerous outlets so you can also get them delivered to your hotel.
Getting around in Jaipur
We couldn’t book a full-day Ola or Uber because of the non-availability of cabs. Also, most of them want you to cancel the trip and hire them directly.
If you have the luxury of time, opt for the e-rickshaws that ply all over the city. They’re convenient and give you a full view of the city streets.
I would strongly advise against going for joy rides on elephants. They are available at Amer Fort, but you can choose other options like the golf carts instead.
The travel company we used was Incredible Rajputana and they arranged the registered guide.
What to shop for in Jaipur
Bapu Bazaar and Johari Bazaar are the more famous streets for shopping, but there are many more you can explore. You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to shopping. Make sure you travel light because most likely, you’ll be carrying extra baggage back from here.
Shop for Jaipur quilts and bedsheets, clothes, Blue Pottery items, juttis and other leather items, miniature paintings, gemstone jewellery, carpets, puppets, and plenty of other accessories in the traditional style of the state. Sanganeri, hand block, bandhani, and leheriya prints are quintessential Jaipur prints. If you don’t have space in your luggage, most of them will courier the package to you for a small fee.
Air travel during a Pandemic
We were booked on Air Asia from Hyderabad to Jaipur. We were asked to show our vaccination certificate at the check-in counter and an RT-PCR test result for our 5-year-old, which we didn’t have.
They said we’d need to pay Rs500 extra for their premium service, which would waive off the test result requirement. We refused to pay. It is such a blatant money-making scheme to intimidate travellers. They still let us through. An RT-PCR test is required for older children though. We were once again asked to show our vaccination certificates on arrival at Jaipur, but our son wasn’t stopped for it.
On our way back from Jaipur, at no point were we asked to show our vaccination certificate.
Do check out this awesome blog by Arv. Jaipur Thru My Lens has detailed descriptions of all the main sights around Jaipur. He is also super helpful in responding to any queries you might have.