Walking The Old City of Jaipur, Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantar and City Palace, Jaipur, India
We had a day of sightseeing around the Pink City of Jaipur in Rajasthan, India. Jaipur has a few interesting attractions within it’s city limits, and we found it worth our time to spend a day sightseeing in and among it’s pink streets. We took in the famous Hawa Mahal, the historic astronomy centre of Jantar Mantar, and the City Palace. Jaipur was a much more authentic place than industrial New Delhi, and we enjoyed the opportunity to take in these sights on a freestyle basis.
This post is one chapter on our third Round the World trip via South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, the Maldives and India. This trip was redeemed through Air Canada’s Aeroplan and through Starwood Preferred Guest (Marriott Bonvoy) and Hyatt Gold Passport (World of Hyatt) loyalty programs. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.
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Walking the Old City of Jaipur, Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantar and City Palace, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India
“Our day visit to Jaipur, India had us seeing the oldest astronomy monuments at Jantar Mantar and the famous Hama Mahal, with a good sprinkling of wild monkeys thrown in for good measure.”
About our Visit to The Old City of Jaipur:
Jaipur rounds out the third city in the Indian Golden Triangle. Jaipur (pronounced JAP-OUUUR) is the capital of Rajasthan. In addition to having some great historical sights, the Old City is an intriguing visit and a method of getting closer to the locals of India. When I was doing travel research, I was told that Jaipur was the nicest of the three cities. Those reports were right. Jaipur was downright pleasant compared to New Delhi and miles ahead of Agra.
On our day of sightseeing, we decided to go freestyle for a change. We were initially a bit concerned about independent travel in India, but it turned out that all the gloomy CNN and BBC news stories about treatment and safety of women in India were a bit sensationalistic. We had no issues at all around Jaipur.
The Old City:
We started off by taking an Uber X (low cost) car from the hotel into the Old City. The ride, about 5 km (3 miles) came out to 56 Rupees ($0.80 cents). The driver was prompt, and turned up at The Rambagh Palace driving a Hyundai Accent. He didn’t speak any English but he was very professional and courteous..
The Old City of Jaipur has a walled portion to it which is known as The Pink City. After we were dropped off, we took the Lonely Planet walking tour by starting at one end of the Pink City and walking to another. The buildings in the walled portion were all painted pink due to a visit by a dignitary. It’s as close as you can get to organized chaos with noise, disorganization, broken sidewalks and many things to see along the way.
Cows are sacred in India. It’s seems pretty common to see them around the city.
Most of the shops were for the local Indian population. There were a few souvenir stores closer to the tourist attractions. The main souvenirs available for purchase were hand crafted bracelets. Surprisingly, we didn’t get hassled at all through our independent walk through the Old City. The walled city is kris crossed with alleys. In efforts to support proper santiation, they’ve installed public urinals for men at the entrances to most alleys. The entertaining part for me is that they are selling local sugar cane and lime drinks immediately across from the urinal (look toward the top left of the photo)
Touring the Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds):
We headed up to Hawa Mahal, also known as the Palace of the Winds. This historic building is best known for its windows so that the royal ladies of the household could watch the street life. In addition to the unique front, the inner city palace offered great views of the mountains surrounding Jaipur.
We were able to explore the structure and building, including a climb up to the top where we got some views of urban Jaipur.
There was a nice courtyard where we picked up bottle water to deal with the 40 degree heat. This youngster decided to practice his English by commandeering my Lonely Planet and having himself an English lesson. It was another unusual and unscripted interaction with the locals that added a little charm to our travel experience.
Feeding the Monkeys on the way to Jantar Mantar:
We left Hawa Mahal and headed over to Jantar Mantar. We passed by several shops along the way. One of the shop keepers was feeding monkeys bananas. He was kind enough to let MrsWT73 feed some monkeys who happened to be enjoying the whole thing. It’s pretty unusual to see monkeys sprinkled throughout the city but it’s very neat to see for those of us that don’t have monkeys outside of zoo’s at home.
Visiting Jantar Mantar:
We arrived to Jantar Mantar. Jantar Mantar was constructed around 1799 and was used to study astronomy. It’s received UNESCO World Heritage Status and it’s an entertaining visit to see what times of star gazing instruments were in use several hundred years ago.
If you visit, try to plan your visit outside of the middle of the day for the heat. We were through around 2 PM and it was scorching hot with 42 degree temperatures and very little shade. It was free admission today thanks to World Heritage Day. Cows were not part of the free admission eligibility.
MrsWT73 was getting into the game show display features of the astronomic instruments by this point, which eventually attracted the attention of the locals.
MrsWT73, continuing on with the rock star popularity, had her photo taken a few hundred more times by other visitors.
The City Palace:
After Jantar Mantar, we headed almost immediately across the street to the City Palace. The City Palace was where Jai Singh resided. It was well maintained, but not super opulent by any means. It would be an interesting contrast to the Jaipur Fort that we would see the next day.
We took a pedi cab back to the hotel. It was a little farther than we thought and I felt a little bad for the guy pedalling the 3 miles since it was about 42 degrees Celsius out. I gave him 300 Rupees (about $8 USD) for the trip and he seemed fairly happy about that.
How I felt about visiting the Pink City of Jaipur:
Overall, we enjoyed our day visit to the Old City of Jaipur. We had no issues with the safety and security while we wandered around. We were clearly the only tourists in some areas but we were pretty much left alone in the middle of the day. I can’t say the same treatment would have occurred after dark. The attractions were also interesting and worth a visit if you happened to be in the area. The real star of Jaipur, was The Amber Fort which we were to see the very next day.