During my stay in India, I visited Jaipur a couple of times, with different people and for different reasons. If you want to see and feel how the kings and queens of ancient India lived, Rajasthan is the place to be. This is not going to be one of those typical blog posts where I tell you how magnificent the architecture of Jaipur is, with all its details shown on Hawa Mahal or City Palace. I am not going to suggest you where to stay, which hotel to book, where to get tickets for certain tourist attractions, or where to find nice cheap food. I am going to tell you what are the 10 things you should do when in Jaipur and I will try to tell you my Jaipur story. So, let’s begin!
1. Go crazy with HOLI colors
If you ask me the best time to visit Jaipur is end of March because you will catch the famous Holi festival (The time of the festival varies every year, so make sure you check when it is before you make your plans). Holi was my first visit to Jaipur. After all the usual sightseeing, we had no actual plan where to spend the festival, but we decided to roam the streets and find something interesting and that’s what we did. We got ready, wore our old clothes (you will throw your clothes after Holi, don’t even think of washing them) and put oil on our hair and skin so the color doesn’t stick. We found an open air, free entrance, party with free colors and great music. The atmosphere is amazing, as everyone throws colors at each other and laughs, as if we are all friends not people seeing each other for the first time. I even ended up randomly meeting a friend from my Country at that party.
2. Explore your photography skills
Jaipur is a great place to become a pro photographer. Whether you are with your DSLR or just an iPhone, I’m sure you will click great pictures. The landscapes and architecture is beautiful and you will be able to catch great views with vivid colors. I suggest clicking photos through windows/openings to make it more interesting.
3. Take a panorama with your friends
Every time there is a group of friends travelling together somehow there is always that one which has to take a picture. Well, Jaipur has many places which are perfect for panorama pictures. This way, you can all be in the photo. All you have to do is make the last person in the panorama start taking the photo and when he/she is half way, a person which was first in the picture should take over. Me and my friends had great time taking these. They don’t always turn out the way you expect, but at least you laugh about it.
4. Get your Mehndi on
Once you are in the City Palace you can get a great mehndi for only 100 rupees. The ladies doing it are pretty experienced and fast, but be prepared not to touch anything after till it dries. You can choose from multiple designs and if you are in the group, try bargaining for a discount.
5.Explore your modes of transportation
Jaipur offers you multiple choices of transportation in the city. First of all I suggest coming to Jaipur by train because Indian trains are definitely something you cannot miss. Once you are in the city you can choose between cabs, rickshaws, elephants, camels, bicycle rickshaw and walking. The beauty of India is that all these modes of transportation use the same road.
6. Enjoy being a celebrity
Most of the people in India, especially in small places, will get excited to a see a foreigner. There is something about white skin that they consider beautiful and interesting. I am sure you will be asked to click photos with their children, or maybe whole family. I was even asked for an autograph once. In Jaipur, we were a group of foreigners (my friends and me) and somehow we ended up taking this group photo with a group of Indian tourists. Remember your excursion from 5th grade? Well it looked something like that.
7. Get a typical Rajasthani turban
City Palace is a great place to learn about Rajasthani culture and not just history. If you are lucky you will catch a group of men tying traditional turbans, as well as playing traditional music and dancing. Feel free to ask them to tie a turban on you or join them in their dance and learn some steps.
8. Eat like a local
Make sure you find a Haveli and eat traditional food. Wear something comfortable, because you will be sitting on the ground and eating with your fingers. Mostly the food in Havelis will be vegetarian, so I can suggest Dal Makhani and Paneer Makhanwala, along with some chawal and rumali roti. Apart from this Butter Chicken is a must try when it comes to North Indian food.
9. Be in the news
One of the greatest memories about Jaipur which I have is a Zonal NASA competition in Jaipur, held in autumn 2013. At a time I was working as a lecturer in a private university in Punjab and I was in charge of 52 students attending an architectural competition in Jaipur. I’m proud to say that we won the Overall Trophy in this competition and ended up in couple of articles newspaper.
10. Dress like a Desi
For those of you who don’t know, Desi is something traditional, coming from a village or a small place with a big cultural influence in India. Make sure you buy some kurtas, leggings, salwar kameez suits and bindis. These cloths will look great on your pictures, totally matching the surroundings and they are very comfortable to wear during hot summer days. They will protect you from sun, you will not stand out so much compared to local people and trust me Indians will be very happy to see you dressed up in their traditional clothes.