Jaipur is the colorful, chaotic capital of Rajasthan. It is known as the Pink City of India, since many of its buildings were painted a salmon hue for a visit by the Prince of Wales in 1878. While not a port, this must-see city, famous for its splendid palaces, vibrant bazaars and British colonial legacy, is often an overnight excursion on Ganges River itineraries.
What We Love
Hawa Mahal: Resembling an ornately carved honeycomb (its name means “wind palace”), this five-story landmark of deep-pink sandstone was built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh to enable women in the royal household to watch daily life on the streets below.
The Bazaars: A riot of pattern, color, sparkle and shine is on display at Jaipur’s bazaars, where ornately embellished pillows, bedspreads, tablecloths, shawls and saris await the right offer.
Best Known For
The Amber Fort: Built of pale yellow and pink sandstone in a mix of Rajput and Hindu styles, this sprawling 16th-century royal complex is located on a hilltop 7 miles from Jaipur. It houses a number of palaces, pavilions, halls and temples, the most striking of which is the Sheesh Mahal (Mirror Palace).
City Palace: See how the maharajas lived from the mid-18th to early 20th centuries at this labyrinthine royal complex. The original palace was constructed in 1732 by Sawai Jai Singh II, while the Mubarak Mahal (Guest Pavilion), built in the 19th century, houses the elaborate clothing, jewelry and other personal objects of the royals.
Jantar Mantar: Trying to decipher the stars is nothing new. This astronomical observatory was built more than 300 years ago and features 20 fixed monumental instruments made of masonry.
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Who It's Best For
Lovers of Historic Opulence: Rajasthan — and Jaipur in particular — delivers India’s exotic allure in a grand and glorious manner.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Reality Checks: The day-to-day struggles of India’s impoverished lower classes are starkly evident.
Donna Heiderstadt is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Coastal Living and Islands.