Jaipur, the Pink City
Jaipur the pink city is the capital of the Indian state of Rajasthan. The cities nick name: "Pink City" was given because many of the buildings are build with sandstone which gives the city a pinkish color.
The city was founded in 1727 by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, the ruler of Amber with a population of more than 4 million today. The city is for many travelers the entrance to explore Rajasthan.
I've been twice to Jaipur, the first time I only to get a glimpse of the beauty, the second time I had more time to explore the colorful city and the Rajasthan state. Contrary to many other cities in India, the streets are wide and open giving space to people and movements.
The city is build in the semi desert areas of Rajasthan by the Amber rulers, who's Amber Fort is still to be visited just north outside the city. The city has several magnificent gates:
Even today you can still see much of the former glory of the maharajas. The city gate, Hawa Mahal, royal palace and the way the city was build all show the wealth and vision of the maharajas. At almost every street corner you see the (former) wealth of the city. Some of the palaces are now in use as hotels.
Inside the city it's a typical incredible busy thing. And there is a lot to see, palaces, temples, fortresses, museums, gardens and more.
One of the most impressive buildings without a doubt is the Hawa Mahal, originally indented to let the royal ladies observe everyday life, hence the nick name: the observatory.
It's a 5 storey building of 15 meters high, which was in use as royal palace and summer retreat for the maharajas.
The city palace (including the Chandra Mahal) is worth a visit, it gives you an idea of the wealth of the maharajas which is very contrasting to the poverty of the ordinary people.
Jaipur is a 235 km from Agra and 264 km from Delhi. These are the two main roads for going north out of Rajasthan. Should you want to go south, Ahmedabad is 660km away with a good stop in Aimer 131 km from Jaipur. After that you will travel to Udaipur, which is a must see. Most people head west to the Blue City: Jodhpur and Jaisalmer and maybe Bikaner (the rat city).
The airport is located south of the city center. The city is well connected by bus to many cities. It's about 3 hours to Agra or Delhi.
The railway can connect you to many main cities in India including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Pune and others. One of India's most famous and luxurious trains The Palace on Wheels, also makes a scheduled stop in Jaipur. I've never done this train so I can't comment here.
Should you cycle in Rajasthan, make sure you bring on the way enough water, especially in the summer it can be very hot in the open flat lands. There are plenty of villages on the road but you don't want to take the risk.
Stay in Jaipur
Some of the former palaces are nowadays in use as hotels. Other older buildings are in use as guesthouses.
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Many travelers skip it, but I think it's more then worth the visit, despite the numerous historical sites you can visit in India.
Fatehpur Sikri was build in 15 years, and abandoned 14 years after completion. It's effectively a ghost town, a magnificent ghost town!
Amber Fort, Jaigarh Fort and Jal Mahal
A few km north of Jaipur city you will find some of the finest examples of forts to be found in India: Amber Fort and Jaigarh Fort plus on the way to the fortresses, a short visit (if you can visit, it will take longer) to Jal Mahal.
The wealth of Udaipur is legendary. Few places in India have more palaces on such a small area as Udaipur. That alone makes a visit more then worthy.