We have for some time been fascinated with India's history and culture... and what we've heard and read to be the beauty of its cities.
We travelled to Jaipur in December - the famously magical Pink City, and commenced 2016's adventure (and now apparently lifelong goal?) to explore the world.
And magical it was - the buildings and grand arches that mark old city lines are truly pink, and everything else is a phenomenal explosion of colour and intricate design. Nothing is ever plain in Jaipur - tiles are patterned, walls are decorated, and the handpainted shop signboards are exquisitely crafted.
Travel to India can be done on nearly any budget, we've been told, and we chose what is probably considered the "upper-middle" end of the spectrum. That is, we decided to splurge on food (i.e. we stuck to highly-rated restaurants) and pay a little more to stay in a boutique hotel.
If you're heading that way we also recommend this book by Fiona Caulfield, our bible for getting around Jaipur (caution though that some of the establishments mentioned in the book have moved).
28 Kothi - our home in Jaipur
We were very spoilt and stayed at the amazing boutique hotel @28kothi. The hotel organised us a driver who tirelessly shuttled us around the city (and beyond). I would not recommend travelling without a driver or a local guide - not only is it fairly intimidating to even the seasoned traveler, it can also be dangerous if traffic negotiation is not your thing.The service and comfort at @28kothi was top-notch, and the team tried their very hardest to make our stay perfect. See the photos below; they follow with details to the hotel's website.
Above: scenes from the lobby and corridors. Below: private terrace from the Sapphire room (left), and common grounds where meals are served (right).
Below: the Sapphire room.
Below: mural in the library
@28kothi is located in a quiet, almost-gated (there is a gate... I'm not sure if it's ever closed) neighbourhood called Civil Lines. It is pretty central to all the main attractions, boutique shopping and markets - though for the same reason as why I'd recommend hiring a driver, I'd not suggest going about on foot.
They are extremely popular, so we recommend reaching out to them early if planning a trip.
28 Kothi House no. 28, Shivaji Nagar, Civil Lines, Jaipur, Rajasthan 302006, India www.28kothi.com
There are several markets in Jaipur - notably they are described as markets for different wares, being jewelry, metals, fabric, books etc. Each market has a different name... but we quickly learnt that it didn't matter which market you were after - they were all located adjacent to each other, and the lines between each are blurry.Standing out obviously as tourists in the markets has its disadvantages - in Jaipur this draws very quick witted locals wanting to make easy money by offering to "guide", or in our case, hold traffic up for us. There's often little chance to refuse, and we unfortunately got the aggressive one that demanded we tip for the assistance.
Still, that didn't spoil our day, and amidst the chaos we made some very precious purchases and caught some memorable sights.
Market scenes above includes Tripoli Bazaar, Bapu Bazaar and Johari Bazaar. They are closely located in the Pink City district of Jaipur.
Forts and Palaces
The main attractions of Jaipur are its majestic forts and many intricately designed palaces. Each hold deep historical roots to the city (not going to elaborate on this, because,
), and some palaces are so beautiful... well see for yourself.
Above and around: City Palace
Above: City Palace Hallways Below: Jaigarh Fort
Below: Amer Fort (left), Panna Meena ka Kund (right)
Below: Albert Hall Museum
We were told after a couple of forts and palaces to skip a number - but don't - each landmark is pretty unique and worth the extra travel. If pressed for time, I'd recommend to visit
the City Palace and Jaigarh Fort, which has an amazing view of the nearby hills, the Amber Palace, and Jaipur city in the distance.
Other places we loved
(book mentioned above) provides a guide to the many worthwhile boutique shops stocking works from local artists, and incredibly pretty cafes, restaurants and bars.
Above: Caffe Palladio Below: Bar Palladio
Below: Teatro Dhora (left), boutique shops around Hotel Narain Niwas (right)
Above: Rajmahal Palace
Some places that we love:
51 Sardar Patel Marg, C Scheme, Dhuleshwar Garden, Opp India Post Bhavan, Jaipur, Rajasthan 302007
Teatro Dhora 9 Yashwant Palace, Ajmer Road, Jaipur, Rajasthan 302006 dhoraindia.in
Bar Palladio Kanota Bagh, Bhag Singh Road, Adarsh Nagar, Rambagh, Jaipur, Rajasthan 302004 bar-palladio.com
Caffe Palladio 100 Jawahar Lal Nehru Marg, Rambagh, Jaipur, Rajasthan 302004 bar-palladio.com
Samode Haveli Near Jorawar Singh Gate, Gangapole, Jaipur, Rajasthan 302002, India samode.com
Hotel Narain Niwas Kanota Bagh, Narayan Singh Road, Rambagh, Jaipur, Rajasthan 302004 hotelnarainniwas.com
Rajmahal Palace Sardar Patel Marg, C Scheme, Shivaji Nagar, Jaipur, Rajasthan 302001 sujanluxury.com
Jaipur to Agra - 5 hours and beyond
We took a 5 hour roadtrip (including time to swap out a flat tyre... #lifehappens) to Agra, because, how can you come so far and not go to the Taj Mahal. For anyone making this journey - keep in mind this is hours in traffic, and so expect some exciting maneuvering from your driver.
Above: Taj Mahal and grounds Below: Agra Fort