As with most other travelers, India has always been on my radar; however, I kept putting it off thinking it would be too overwhelming for me to plan for and actually experience. So instead of trying to visit as many places as possible in one go, I decided to break it up into many quick trips, making use of the short travel distance and the many connecting flights between the UAE and India. To begin my exploration of India, I decided on Jaipur, a city that I only became aware of a few years ago, and even more recently I also became aware of direct flights between Dubai and Jaipur which prompted me to start researching deeper on it. After writing down all the major sights I want to see and places I want to visit, I booked the flights and a guide in Jaipur and eagerly waited for the trip there.
Located less than 3 hours away from Dubai, Jaipur is also known as the Pink City, which I believe is a misnomer as its pink days are long past it but is still colorful. Jaipur is the largest city in Rajasthan Province and is considered India’s first planned city. Jaipur is unsurprisingly the city that is visited the most by Indian tourists so that should give you an idea of how pretty it is.
Although you can easily combine Jaipur with other beautiful nearby cities like Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Udaipur, and Agra (which I would recommend if you have time) the below is just meant to show you what can be seen and explored in just two days. Helpfully, Spice Jet flights arrive from Dubai in Jaipur on Friday at around 8 am and then you can leave Jaipur back to Dubai on Sunday morning.
Without further ado, below are some of the reasons I believe Jaipur would make the perfect weekend getaway from Dubai:
1. Amber Fort
A massive fort-palace complex which is home to beautiful Hindu and Muslim architecture including the Sheesh Mahal, which is basically walls and ceilings adorned with thousands of mirror tiles. You could easily lose half a day if not more there but research ahead and walk fast and you should be done in 2 hours. And please resist the temptation to ride an elephant to get from the town to the top of the fort as the elephants appear severely abused. Instead, have your driver drop you off at the entrance, or if you have the time you can walk although it’s a bit of hike. While heading to Amber Fort, beat the crowds and visit Panna Meena ka Kund, which is easily one of the most amazing things you’ll ever see, and the good news is that you will likely have it all for yourself.
2. City Palace
Ah, where do I start with talking about this place! This vast complex, which combines Rajput and Mughal architecture, occupies nearly one-seventh of the Pink City and is divided into residences (including for the current Maharaja of Jaipur, who is 19 years old btw!), gardens and other buildings. Every accessible corner of this place is a feast for the senses with so many colors packed beautifully. Spend two hours here at least but come early for perfect photo opps!
3. Hawa Mahal
Another marvel of architecture is the Hawa Mahal which is conveniently close to the City Palace and was originally part of it. The Hawa Mahal was built in 1799 as an extension of the women chamber for the purpose of allowing royal ladies to observe everyday life in the street below without being seen by the public. It is a five storey high red sandstone structure complete with over 950 windows. The breeze (or hawa in Hindi) circulates through these windows giving the palace its name.
Jaigarh Fort: If Amber Fort hasn’t exhausted you, head over to Jaigrah Fort, which is considered the strongest of the three forts in the area as it has never been conquered in battle. This fort is home to the world’s largest cannon, which ironically was only fired once. The fort is also home to beautiful gardens and an unbeatable view of the Amber Fort.
What’s a trip to India without stuffing your face with good food until you can’t breathe? Being the capital of Rajasthan, Jaipur is probably one of the best places to try Rajasthani cuisine which — like food from other areas of India — is spicy and flavorful.
5. Live like a maharaja
With so many forts and palaces in such a small area, it is hard not to not let your imagination go and dream of life in the olden days. If you can afford it, splurge a bit and stay at one of the city’s ultra luxury boutique hotels. Or you could stay at one of the many guesthouses (like Khatu Haveli) and experience Rajasthani life first hand.
Jaipur is a shopping hub in India and its bazaars add to the many colors of the city. Among the things you can buy are spices (highly recommend you get them from “Royal Spices & Tea” shop on Amer Road), textiles, and precious gems like rubystar. And remember to always bargain!
- If like us, you’re going for only a weekend, it might be worth it to hire a guide/driver to take you around instead of going there yourself or hiring separate guides and drivers for each place. It will save you a lot of time and you’d be able to have the flexibility of your own itinerary. I recommend my guide Aslam (email: email@example.com) who also shared a lot of information on his hometown, Jaipur, and the area in general. He’ll also happily haggle for you at markets and bazaars so you’re not ripped off!
- Instead of buying separate entrance tickets to the various sights, consider buying the two day composite ticket which gives you access to Amber Fort, Jantar-Mantar, Hawa Mahal, Albert Hall (Central Museum), and Nahargarh Fort.
- Street food is omnipresent in Jaipur but as you’d imagine, hygiene levels are questionable at best by Western standards, but since this is India, you might as well suck it up and build a tolerance to make the best out of your trip! If you don’t like how a place looks like, move on to the next one. There are many options around the city and you will never be hungry. Here are the foods and places that I recommend:
- Pyaaz ki Kachori from Samrat Restaurant or Rawat
- Laddoos (‘Doodh k laddoo’ and ‘Chaughani k laddoo’) from Bhagat Misthan Bhandar
- Moong thal from Sodhya Halwai
- Masala Tea from Gulab Ji Chai Wale
- Shrikhand from Falahaar restaurant (pro tip: the Sabudane ki Khichdi and Sabudana Dahi Vada are great there too!)
- Itinerary: this is my suggested two day itinerary but do your own research and add/remove places that fit your taste.
Day 1Amer Fort / Amber Fort + Panna Meena ka Kund (2 hours)Jaigarh Fort (1 hour)Srijagat Siromaniji Temple (30 minutes)Jal Mahal (10 minutes — it is an overwater palace that can only be seen at a distance from the land)Maharaja Ki Chhatri / Gaitor (30 minutes)Hawa Mahal (1 hour)
Day 2City Palace / Sawai Man Singh II Museum (2 hours)Albert Hall Museum (1 hour)Nahargarh Fort (1 hour)Jawahar Circle Garden (1 hour)
If you have any questions on the above, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to answer your Jaipur-related questions.