Jaipur was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in July 2019, with its exemplary town planning and architecture being important factors. Many of the top attractions in Jaipur are located in the characterful Old City, which is distinctively painted pink. They're not really spread out, so can easily be reached on foot. Use this guide to go on walking tour of Jaipur's Old City. Allow half a day to explore properly.
If you'd like to get to know the Old City in more detail, Vedic Walks will take you behind the scenes, through its narrow lanes, to some interesting offbeat attractions on their insightful Jaipur heritage walking tours.
Start at M.I. Road
Start: From Panch Batti circle and the old world Raj Mandir cinema, head along M.I. Road, which is the main thoroughfare.
If you have some cash to splash, M.I. Road is where you'll find all the high-end shops including the Gem Palace.
Gem Palace is an attraction itself. Owned by the family of jewelers that once served the royal family, its been in existence for eight generations. The interior has been likened to Aladdin's Cave, which some magnificent pieces on display that belonged to the royal family.
Pink Walls and Gates of the Old City
Continue along M.I. Road, and you'll come across the pink walls of the Jaipur Old City on your left.
There are three gates, spaced about 500 meters apart, which provide entry into the Old City. The first one is Ajmeri Gate, followed by New Gate, and lastly Sanganeri Gate.
Enter from Ajmeri Gate and turn right. From there you can walk all the way along to Sanganeri Gate and the start of Johari Bazaar.
The Old City is extraordinary well laid-out with its wide, straight streets running in a grid that forms a series of bazaars.
Bazaars of the Old City
The first bazaar you'll encounter is Nehru Bazaar. It's situated on the road between Ajmeri Gate and New Gate. A favorite with the women of Jaipur, it's full of shops selling brightly colored fabric, shoes, trinkets, and perfumes.
Bapu Bazaar lies along the road between New Gate and Sanganeri Gate. Many shops sell styles of clothes and bags that foreign tourists like. Keep an eye out for the marvelous, huge banyan tree on the right, with its mass of intertwined branches.
Stroll along and browse through the shops until you reach Sanganeri Gate, the third gate, and Johari Bazaar.
Johari Bazaar lies opposite Sanganeri Gate, on the road that leads north to Badi Chaupar (big square). Turn left into it and walk straight.
If the jewels at the Gem Palace were out of your league, you're likely to find that the offerings here are more suitable. Johari Bazaar and the lanes that run off it are known for gold and silver jewelry, as well as inexpensive costume jewelry and bangles. Gopal Ji Ka Rasta is the famous gem street in Johari Bazaar. However, do be aware that merchants are notorious for selling colored glass as gems there. If you're keen to buy gems, make sure you have a read of this gem guide first.
Jaipur Magic conducts an evening walking tour of the Old City bazaars for those who'd like to spend more time wandering through them.
In Front of the Hawa Mahal
Keep walking straight, and you'll reach Jaipur's most famous landmark, the Hawa Mahal (Wind Palace). This unusual example of Rajput architecture was built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawaj Pratap Singh. It was made so that the ladies of the palace could look out over the street, from the small windows, unobserved. There are 953 of these windows in total, spread over five levels! However, unfortunately, there's not much wind in the Wind Palace these days, as many of the windows have been sealed shut.
There's a rooftop cafe opposite the Hawa Mahal where tourists go to get an unobstructed view of the monument.
Behind the Hawa Mahal
Some people don't realize that it's actually possible to go inside the Hawa Mahal -- you can, and should!
To find the entrance, head back in the direction that you came from, and go right at the intersection. Walk a short distance along the road, then take the first right into the alleyway. There's a big blue sign there that points to the Hawa Mahal.
Next stop on the walking tour of Jaipur's Old City is the magnificent City Palace. There are two approaches that you can take to get there: either walk back past the Hawa Mahal and turn left, or keep heading along the road you were on (known as Tripolia Bazaar) and turn right near Tripolia Gate.
If you're feeling tired from walking, you can hail a cycle rickshaw. The distance isn't far, so you shouldn't need to pay more than 20 rupees (bargain hard).
There are various ticket options for the City Palace, depending on how much of it you want to see. Prices start from 200 rupees for Indians and 700 rupees for foreigners. In addition, it's possible to get a special access to the Chandra Mahal (where the royal family lives) with a personal guide. This costs from 1,500 rupees per person for Indians and 2,000 rupees per person for foreigners.
The City Palace blends Rajasthani and Mughal architecture, with the most recently constructed parts of it dating back to the early 20th century. Behind the main courtyard, you'll be able to see the towering seven floor, Chandra Mahal. The flag of the royal family is hoisted when the Maharaja is in residence.
In case you're hungry or thirsty, there's a lovely outdoor cafe at the City Palace.
City Palace Courtyard and Peacock Gate
The most stunning part of the City Palace is without a doubt the ornate Peacock Gate. It's located in a small courtyard known as Pritam Niwas Chowk, accessed via an exit on the far side of the main courtyard of the Jaipur City Palace.
Pritam Niwas Chowk has four colorful painted doorways, each representing a different season. The magnificent Peacock Gate is dedicated to fall/autumn and Lord Vishnu.
As you head out of the City Palace in Jaipur, you may want to stop by Jantar Mantar. This astrological observatory was completed by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, a renowned mathematician and astronomer, in 1738. He constructed five in various cities in India (including Delhi), and this one's the biggest and best preserved.
On first glance, Jantar Mantar actually looks like a strange collection of massive sculptures. However, each of them is actually an astrological instrument with a specific purpose, such as calculating eclipses. The largest instrument is a sundial, which casts a shadow that moves up to four meters an hour.
If you haven't got a Composite Ticket, the entry cost is 200 rupees per person for foreigners and 50 rupees for Indians.
Tripolia Gate and Market
From Jantar Mantar, follow the road out to Tripolia Bazaar. Many of the shopkeepers there specialize in selling kitchen utensils.
Tripolia Bazaar gets its name from Tripolia Gate, with its three archways. This is actually the main entrance to the City Palace and Jantar Mantar. However, only the members of the royal family and their guests are allowed to enter that way.
Nearby is the tallest structure in Jaipur -- Iswari Minar Swarga Sal, the heaven-piercing minaret. It serves as an excellent reference point as to your location. It's possible to climb to the top of the tower and get a bird's-eye view of the Old City.
Spot a Camel
Apart from the usual cows, you might get to see a camel pulling a load along the streets of the Old City of Jaipur. Camels aren't as prevalent as they used to be, but they're still around!