The Pink City

Jaipur is one of India’s brightest jewels. The “Pink City” (so-named for its profusion of rose-coloured sandstone buildings) is also a city of vibrant and earthy colours, as seen in its chaotic avenues and astounding historic landmarks. It’s a place that’s at once both ancient and flamboyant – plus, it’s home to some of the best shopping in the world! You’ll want to spend as much time as possible here, and bound to leave wanting more.

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Distinctive Sights

Most of the major historic attractions in Jaipur are around City Palace, which sits in the centre of the Old City.

The complex is a mélange of buildings, courtyards and gardens from different centuries, in a captivating display of Mughal and Rajasthani architecture with European and Islamic touches. Museums inside showcase an array of treasures, including beautifully inlaid weapons, royal costumes, an entire handwritten Bhagavad Gita, and what are often called the largest silver objects in the world: two vessels, each over five feet tall. But it’s the exquisite rooms, towering arches and lush green spaces that are the real draw for the current maharaja, who still lives upstairs.

The Hawa Mahal is perhaps the most distinctive thing to see in Jaipur: Five stories of pink sandstone elaborately sculpted into turrets, arches and more than 900 windows (from which the women of the royal household could peek out at the city without being seen by the public). It’s an astounding work of art. Inside, hallways are narrow and can get crowded, so schedule a visit for early in the day.

Seven miles north of the city, Amber (also Amer) Fort is one of the top attractions in Jaipur. The capital of the region’s royal rulers during the 1500s and 1600s, this half-palace, half-fort was actually occupied by the maharaja until 1956. The complex is sprawling, imposing and beautiful: Marble floors and stately staircases, ornamental gardens and expansive courtyards. The star of the show is the Palace of Mirrors (Sheesh Mahal), with its walls covered in incredibly detailed bits of mirror, carefully arranged in flower patterns and swirls. It’s said that a single candle can light up the entire room — a testament to the designer’s careful blend of science and art.

One of the more fast-paced things to do in Jaipur is attend a polo match at the Rajasthan Polo Club. With society’s elite turning up here to hobnob (some even come for the match), it makes for great people-watching when your attention’s not on the field. The players, mounted on horseback, speed up and down the grass attempting to hit the ball into the goal, and play is always passionate.

Wondering what to do in Jaipur if you’ve missed the polo season (in late autumn)? Why not hop onto a horse and give it a go yourself? The Jaipur Riding and Polo Club offers clinics in basic polo techniques in its grounds on the outskirts of the city – a good way to combine exercise, fresh air, and local tradition.

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