With a history most rich, glorious, colorful and vibrant, Rajasthan’s capital city of Jaipur has long been a favorite with tourists from India and the world over. The ‘Pink City’ of India has an irresistible old-world charm. Its imposing forts and palaces, the iconic Hawa Mahal, the bustling walled city, mouth-watering cuisine, and magnificent handicrafts and textiles are a few things that promise visitors a memorable and thoroughly pleasing time.
In recent years, Jaipur has gained even more popularity as the venue for the annual Jaipur Literature Festival. While the city’s main tourist spots most definitely warrant a visit, here are a few lesser-known but completely unmissable things to do while in Jaipur:
1. Curious Life Coffee Roasters
Tired after a long day of sightseeing and shopping in Jaipur? Worry not, for this city has some great coffee to keep you going. Starting out as a small and cozy space for coffee lovers in Yudhister Marg, this immensely successful roastery-cum-café recently moved to a much bigger space within C-Scheme to cater to its growing popularity. The original café has also been reopened after being shut briefly, so you can visit whichever one you’re closer to. Whether you’re a regular coffee lover or a serious connoisseur, Curious Life is just the place for you.
They source single-origin coffees from a number of estates in India and also have some great coffees from Kenya and Rwanda, which are then roasted and brewed to perfection. They also serve pancakes, sandwiches, salads and other quick bites. Choose a hot coffee to your liking from their vast menu. The Indian Single Origin French Press has consistently been good. For cold coffee lovers, the Vietnamese Style Cold Brew is a great option and a favorite among locals.
2. Masala Chowk
No experience of an Indian city can really be complete without a taste of the local flavors. Jaipur makes this extremely easy for visitors, especially avid foodies, by bringing together several of the most famous street food eateries in one place. Try all the Jaipuri street food, or perhaps as much as you can at Masala Chowk in Ram Niwas Bagh.
Located close to the magnificent Albert Hall, this food court comprises of stalls set up by famous food outlets and vendors who have been of immense significance to the culinary legacy of this city. Be it the Tandoori chai at Gulab Ji Chai Wale, the decadent kulfi at Indian Ice Cream faluda and Brijwasi Faluda Kesar Kulfi, or the lip-smacking samosas from Shankar Samosa or Premprakash Samosa, you will love it all.
Make sure you go on an empty(ish) stomach to try all you can- for a whole lot of excellent street food awaits you!
3. Experience the shopping haven that is Jaipur at Bapu Bazaar
Renowned for textiles, handicrafts and all things beautiful, Jaipur’s markets are sure to convince even the most reluctant shoppers to indulge and pick up some colorful and artistic articles. Head to Bapu Bazaar in the walled city to pick up counterpanes, Jaipuri quilts, clothes, juttis, accessories and more. The shops are often fully stocked and you may feel like there’s no way you can possibly find anything in peace, but find things you will!
The shopkeepers are more than willing to help you make a decision and will keep showing you items until you settle for something. Bargaining is key here, and it might be a good idea to check prices and designs in a couple of shops before you buy something. The beautiful pink buildings around you also add to the overall experience and will definitely make you fall in love with the city.
4. Panna Meena Ka Kund
Situated close to the famed Amer Fort on the Jaipur-Amer road, this impressive stepwell is well-preserved and easily accessible. This 16th-century architectural and engineering gem was built during the reign of Maharaja Jai Singh of Amer. The eight-storeyed symmetrical design of the stepwell, with its crisscrossing stairs is a visual treat and makes for some great photography. Interestingly, the locals of Amer say the stairs used to go down the stairs cannot be used to come back up and visitors most often cannot figure this out! Visit this place to feel like you’re immersed in an M.C. Escher creation.
The bigger and more famous Chand Baori in Abhaneri, although highly recommended, is around 100 kilometers from Jaipur. Whether or not you have the opportunity of seeing that, make sure you see this highly recommended baori in Jaipur.
5. Have an Elephantastic time!
Elephants have long been a part of the city’s history and thus, it makes perfect sense to have a farm that takes care of these majestic animals and allows people to interact with them. While in Jaipur, spend some quality time with Asian elephants at Elefantastic, an elephant rehabilitation center in Amer. Most of the elephants here are either circus or other rescues. They are well-fed and taken care of by the caretaker families, and even have regular check-ups by vets. By serving as a welfare home for retired/rescued elephants, Elefantastic aims to raise awareness regarding elephant-human interaction.
Here, in the presence of a mahout, you can leisurely spend time with the animal, talk to it, feed it, wash it, take long strolls and experience how they live in the farm. Most visitors love their time here and believe the sanctuary to be an incredible endeavor and a great opportunity to better understand elephants. The tour also includes welcome drinks and fresh, home-cooked meals. Please make sure you book through their website (www.elefantastic.in) in advance, as walk-ins are not permitted.
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