Jaipur – of Elephants and Palaces

When you visit Jaipur, India, you will no doubt visit the Amer Fort and Palace. Make sure that you visit reasonably early in the morning and you will be able to ride an elephant up to the narrow Sun Gate into the fort to visit the Amer Palace. It is an experience that totally speaks of India and the days of the Rajas in the 1500s and 1600s. Go ahead and buy a Raja hat from one of the many street vendors and wear it on your ride up.

Don’t be surprised if an hour later an urchin finds you exploring the palace and offers to sell you photos that were taken sometime during your trip up the hill. Why in the morning? Because happily the elephants are only allowed so many trips. After that their day is done.

Like most of these sights in the Golden Triangle the Amer Palace is best visited with a guide to point out the things that you will never notice and to tell you the history. You will be amazed at how much the architects of 500 years ago understood about cooling and energy efficient design! Private tour guides in India are very affordable and knowledgeable.

After you visit the Amer Palace you will want to stop at the Water Palace which is literally built in the middle of the lake with half of the rooms under water – just the ticket when the sun gets to be too much.

You’ll probably finish with a visit to the City Palace before walk next door to the astrological marvels of Jantar Mantar – a 500 year old observatory.

Jaipur has a nickname of “The Pink City”. I’ll leave it to you to find out why! But while you are in Jaipur, be sure to make time to visit a pottery for exquisite plates and tea sets as well as a textile factory for hand-painted fabrics and a rug maker. Of course, Jaipur is famous for precious stones and jewellery. Seek advice on a reputable dealer – although most of them probably are because they want to protect the reputation of Jaipur as a place to by precious gems. We bought a diamond ring of unusual design and after haggling pretty hard we walked away with a jewellery piece that was independently valued at 40% higher when we returned home.

The acid test for a traveller is whether a destination stays in your memory or blurs with so many other places. Jaipur and the experiences we enjoyed there will stay with us forever.