India is one of those countries with flavor all its own – it’s not crowded with skyscrapers and commercialism like the rest of the world, and the abundance of temples, natural scenery, sacred spots, and beautiful architecture makes it a wonderful tourist destination. If you only have enough time to visit one city in this remarkable country, consider Jaipur. Every attraction from historic buildings to old forts to markets is represented here. If you like nature (either in the form of scenery or animals) you won’t leave disappointed.
First let’s visit some stunning outdoor attractions that showcase India’s charm. Although the place known as Kanak Vrindavan Gardens isn’t directly in Jaipur, it’s close enough to the city to be worth it. If you travel this little paradise and it still isn’t exactly what you’re looking for, Balsamand Lake and Garden is another option. There is a palace here as well, and most of the area dates to the 1200s. For the right price, you can stay in the hotel that graces the shores of the lake. Those who can afford it may be able to get a lakefront room.
Want yet another choice? You shouldn’t miss Ranthambore National Park while visiting Jaipur and its surrounding areas. Don’t forget to stop by and see the legendary tigers that live in the park, and check out the beautiful architecture and ambiance. The jungle atmosphere certainly adds to this Jaipur gem. This is one of the must-see attractions for those traveling to India. You will have to check back often and see when and if visitors are allowed inside, and if automobiles of any kind are accepted at the time you’ll be visiting. Sisodia Rani Palace and Garden is available for a fourth option.
Speaking of palaces, if you’re visiting mainly to see historical buildings, one of the most beautiful architectural attractions is the Hawa Mahal (known in English as the romantically-named Palace of the Winds). You won’t believe how many red windows are scattered together; you still won’t be able to figure out how the workers did it, even as you stand below it. The palace is a huge masterpiece, unlike anything else in the world. Hawa Mahal was built in the very late 1700s and still looks brand new. Countless windows give the palace a friendly yet ominous effect. This is definitely one of the places you will be using your camera the most.
Another big attraction in Jaipur is the Amber Fort. In many ways it is just as beautiful as Hawa Mahal, with arched windows, columns, and beautifully muted colors. For a truly memorable vacation, take the elephant ride to the fort and tell your friends and family that you rode an elephant in India. I personally think this is one of the most fascinating things you could possibly do in this country. The Amber Palace can be found close by. Make time to truly look at all the places available for exploration. India isn’t a hustle-and-bustle kind of place, but one where time seems to go slowly
The City Palace of Jaipur should not be missed during your trek through the city. You will notice a distinctly Middle Eastern design that seems to somehow be out of place among native Indian architecture, but the arches and patches of Moorish decoration make the palace all the more beautiful. The rooms are stunning, big and open, with opulent decor and elegant columns. If you want to experience the ingenuity of architects from years past, spend a few hours at the City Palace.
No trip to India would be complete without visiting some of its many famous temples. Jaipur has a few offerings; at the Monkey Temple, you will probably see some of India’s wildlife in the form of – you guessed it – monkeys. If you like animals and didn’t get your fill at Ranthambore, you get two attractions (history and nature) at one time at the Monkey Temple.
For a different temple trek, try Birla Manthir Temple. This is a typical Indian temple with breathtaking marble construction and a simple but beautiful facade. Take heed, however, that you’ll be asked not to film when you go inside, so hopefully you will be able to find postcards or some other reminders of what you’ve seen once you are done with the tour.
By Lacie R. Schaeffer