Jaipur, a city of colour. Rich in its cultural and architectural beauty. It’s the largest city and capital of Rajasthan, India.
This introduction was enough to get me on-board for my maiden solo trip despite my past travels which favoured beaches. Jaipur offered many well kept palaces. Palaces that are open to public and that’s the closest I am ever getting to experiencing a royal life. So visiting Jaipur is a must.
India is an amazing place. Given my numerous trips here, every journey feels like my first because there is always something new to experience.
Jaipur isn’t like it’s northern neighbours. Many speak Hindi here but you would notice the difference in their dressing, make-up and mannerism. For one, people in Jaipur start their day pretty late in the morning and many shops close for couple of hours on Fridays, for namaz.
Let’s rewind and start from the beginning.
Flights to Jaipur are generally empty. So if you are as lucky – as I was – you get to lie down for about ¾ of the journey, in the quiet zone; dimmed lights, no young children and first to be served your meal. This was a bonus given the late departure flight.
“Beep-beep”, “honk” and a mixture of musical honks alerted my sleepy state as soon as I walked out of the airport. “Ergh! Complained one of my travelling companion. “I’m gonna be deaf by the end of this trip!” he exclaimed.
“Ram Ram. Welcome to Jaipur”
Jaipur is the first planned city of India. Its layout, which was overlooked by Maharaja Jai Singh II, was built with heavy focus on security aspects due to foreign threats. Till today you’ll be able to see huge fortification walls around the city.
One impressive fort is Amer Fort. You get a glimpse of the Rajputana architecture here. It boasts the unique blend of Hindu and Rajput elements and is a town with an area of 4 square km. So come with your tummy full and large water tumbler filled when visiting this place.
Amer fort looks less like a fort and more like a palace. There are two ways to get up to the fort; elephant ride or walk up. Just be sure to start your day early if you plan to visit.
Amer palace is constructed with red sandstone and marble. It consists of four diwans, each on a different level, each boating its artistic stylish elements, and is divided into six separate sections with their own entry gate. It’s seriously big and you can easily get separated if travelling in a pack, like I did.
The thing about being lost in an enclosed palace has its advantages. It gives you the time and space to admire things that call out to you.
Sheesh Mahal (mirror palace) called out to me. It’s a private courtyard built for the Maharaja and his family. The whole courtyard is embellished with white mosaics and sculptures. Each sculpture has a story to tell, as demonstrated by one of the local tour guide. Even the ceiling and wall panels are a work of art, dressed up with tiny glass inlaid.
“The Maharanis must have been very vain to need so much mirror all around them,” I joked a little too loud.
“These multi-mirrored ceilings and panels play an important role, ma’am. They glitter bright under a candlelight and brighten up the whole courtyard,” The guide lamented as a matter of factly.
Red cheeks. The price you pay for being cynical.
Jasbir Kaur, an editor at Asia Samachar, was on a trip to Jaipur sponsored by Air Asia X. The budget airline flies to Jaipur four times a week. She has more to share. So stay tuned for more updates on her trip to the Pink City. More photos at Asia Samachar Facebook page