Welcome to the capital and largest city of Rajasthan: JAIPUR! This is the third city in our two-week adventure in Northern India AND our second favourite destination out of the four cities we visited. (Udaipur is our favourite followed by Jaipur, New Delhi, and Agra.)
We spent four nights in the city. In this post, you’ll find my recommendations for where to stay and where to find iced lattes with a view. (The important stuff!) I also offer some tips about visiting Nahargarh Fort and how to get around.
The Pink City
The buildings in Jaipur used to be painted white or yellow. It wasn’t until the state visit of Prince Albert of Wales in 1876 that Jaipur’s buildings took on their new rosy hue. The reigning Maharaja of Jaipur at the time, Sawai Ram Singh II, hoped to impress his royal counterpart so he ordered the entire city to be repainted the same shade of terracotta pink, the colour that symbolises welcoming and hospitality.
The Maharaja’s wife adored the colour scheme so much that she convinced him to pass a law making it illegal for buildings to be painted any other colour. This law passed the following year in 1877 and it still remains in effect today.
In my opinion, this is the prettiest pink building in Jaipur. Hawa Mahal, the “palace of the winds,” was built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh. Royal women weren’t allowed to appear in public without covering their face, so these windows let them peer out onto the street below without being seen.
Thanks to Kuba for the following photos as we walked around Jaipur’s historic centre. 🙂
The best hotel in India
We spent four nights in Jaipur’s Nahargarh Palace Hotel and it was the best hotel experience I’ve ever had. Seriously, this is one of the best hotels I’ve stayed in, period!
The entire hotel was clean and organised. This was the complete opposite experience of our hotel stay in Agra. This room was completely sealed, our bathroom was sparkling clean, and the bed was super comfortable. We were so relieved!
Nahargarh Palace Hotel is also located in a good area, just a 30-minute walk to the historic city centre.
The best part about staying at this hotel is that they have a restaurant on site! The food was so good at the restaurant and affordably priced that we had all of our meals there. Now I know the importance of booking hotels with a legit restaurant on site. It really took the stress out of finding meals in the city.
Here’s their restaurant menu if you’re curious about the prices:
We felt so lucky to stay here. The food was amazing, the room was super clean and everyone working there was friendly and attentive.
The cost of our double room for four nights + all of our meals, coffees, bottled water + a heater (yeah, it was a little chilly at night) + transportation to the train station = 6832 INR, around $99 USD!! What a deal!
⇒⇒⇒I booked all of our hotels for this trip on Booking.com. If you use my referral link for your next trip, we’ll both get a $20 reward!
You can see our room and the hotel’s rooftop terrace in my Jaipur video. 🙂
Iced lattes with a view
For the most part, we ordered coffee in the hotel’s restaurant because it was convenient and affordable (and we could bring it back to the room and enjoy it in bed). We did venture outside the hotel for coffee twice and tried two different cafes. The Tattoo Cafe is the only one worth mentioning!
If you don’t want to pay to visit Hawa Mahal, you can scope it out from The Tattoo Cafe’s rooftop. They have soy milk for lattes and even offer paper straws instead of plastic ones. The drinks were great and the view wasn’t bad either! 😉
We only paid for one attraction in Jaipur. Since Nahargarh Fort was located just up the hill from our hotel and entry tickets weren’t too expensive (200 INR / $2.89 USD), we couldn’t pass it up!
This fort, along with Amer Fort and Jaigarh Fort, once formed a strong defensive ring for the city. Nahargarh Fort was built in 1734 by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, the founder of the city. The name means “abode of tigers” but it also refers to Nahar Singh, a spirit who supposedly haunted this land.
While building the fort, workers would find their work from the previous day destroyed each morning. According to the Maharaja, the land was in fact haunted and the spirit needed to be pacified in order for construction to continue. They built a shrine where the spirit could reside and named the fort Nahargarh.
Even though many find Amer Fort to be more impressive than this one, we purposely avoided it because we didn’t want to witness elephants being abused. Sadly, riding a tortured elephant to the top of Amer Fort is popular among tourists. You should never pay to ride an elephant.
There was some sort of modern art exhibition inside the fort. You can see more in my Jaipur video. 🙂
Thanks to Kuba for the following photos of our walk up the hill and Nahargarh Fort itself.
Tips for visiting Jaipur
Make sure your taxi driver actually knows where he’s going! We had a little trouble with a taxi driver in Jaipur. I printed our hotel reservation so we could easily show taxi drivers the address (and had the hotel marked on Google Maps on my phone). He said he knew how to get there, we negotiated the price and hopped in. After we entered the taxi, it was obvious that he had no clue where the hotel was located, which surprised us because it’s located at the base of Nahargarh Fort, one of the main landmarks in the city.
He took us to a different hotel with a similar name (not even close to the fort) and when we explained his mistake, he still wanted to charge us for this journey even though he didn’t take us to the correct hotel. We flat out refused to pay and just got out of the taxi and walked a little until we reached some tuk-tuks.
As usual, it took us several attempts to negotiate fares with different drivers. Most drivers wanted to charge us more than 8x the price that a local would pay so we refused. Eventually, we found a driver who didn’t rip us off and he actually knew how to get to our hotel. He used Google Maps on his phone and found it without any issues.
Let your hotel arrange transportation
We needed transportation to the train station from our hotel so instead of going through the hassle of negotiating a price ourselves, we let the hotel handle it for us. This was way easier and more secure. I recommend you do the same if your hotel offers this service at an affordable rate.
Don’t miss Jaipur!
Jaipur’s pink city centre makes it a unique destination so it really shouldn’t be missed! If your budget allows, check out the City Palace. (We didn’t manage to see it because we wanted to save our money for the City Palace in Udaipur.) I’d recommend spending at least two nights in the city and of course, I recommend you stay at Nahargarh Palace Hotel.
I don’t think we would have enjoyed our time in Jaipur as much as we did if we didn’t stay there. The fact that they had an awesome restaurant on-site allowed us to relax a bit and enjoy our holiday because we weren’t stressed about finding vegan-friendly places in the city.
Usually, walking around in an unfamiliar city wouldn’t stress us out but exploring cities in India feels like we’re on a different planet! Not in a bad way, of course, but we’re just not used to the noise and constant commotion in the streets. I didn’t think the noise would affect us but we often found ourselves mentally exhausted even when walking short distances. So that is definitely something to consider when you’re planning your trip! Make sure you factor in some rest and relaxation time in quiet spaces. 🙂
- Lonely Planet’s Jaipur Travel Page – for more recommendations and tips!
- My New Delhi Travel Guide
- My Agra Travel Guide – These guides are still worth a read even if you don’t plan on visiting them, simply because many of my tips apply to other cities.
- Karl Rock’s YouTube channel – Karl Rock quit his job in New Zealand and moved to India to start a new life. I like his videos because they’re informative without drama. He seems like a down-to-earth guy who wants to show you what India is really like—the good and the bad!
Don’t forget to check out my India episodes on YouTube! Stay tuned for more posts about our trip, especially my travel guide for our favourite destination in India, Udaipur.