History, heritage, and culture are steeped in Jaipur's nook and corner. Its forts and places are a testimony to its regal era and also an obvious choice for tourists visiting the city. But beyond the walls of these forts and palaces, Jaipur has much more to offer. From bustling bazaars to chasing leopards here are some noteworthy things to do for an offbeat experience of the Pink City.
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Jagat Shiromani Temple
Known as the Krishna Meera temple among the locals, the Jagat Shiromani Temple is located in the historic town of Amber. Built-in 1608 AD by the wife of King Man Singh (1st), the ornate temple is the best specimen of early 17th-century architecture. The entrance to the temple is from an intricately carved arched gateway (Torana) which is flanked by statues of elephants. The temple has a resemblance to the temples of South India. It has a Mandapa, Mahamandapa, and Garbhgriha crowned by a Shikhar. Depiction from Hindu scriptures and mythology adorn the ceilings of the temple. According to the legend, the statue of Lord Krishna housed in this temple was worshipped by Meera Bai herself about 600 years ago. To save it from being destroyed by the Mughal conquerors the rulers of Amber brought it from Mewar and kept it safe in here. Even today an idol of Meera Bai has been set alongside with Lord Krishna in this temple.
Location: Behind Amber Fort, Amber Road
Timings: 6:00 am to 1:00pm- 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Entry fee: Free
Amidst the hills of Aravalli, the Jhalana Park was once the hunting grounds of the royals of Jaipur. Located in the dead center of Jaipur city the park is gaining popularity among wildlife enthusiasts for its frequent leopard sighting. The park is spread over an area of 20 square kilometers. An open gypsy ride can be booked to explore the park. Besides leopards, many other wild animals like Blue Bulls, Spotted Deer, Monkeys, Mongoose, Hyena, Desert Fox, and Porcupine can also be spotted. Numerous species of native birds can be seen inside the park including Indian Pitta, Dusky Eagle, and Spotted Owlet. During the winter season Flamingos, Cranes, Egrets, Dunlins, and cormorants can be seen in the park.
Location: Central road, Malviya industrial area
Timings: 6:15 am and 4:45 pm
Entry fee: ₹4500 /gypsy (6 persons)
Panna Meena ka Kund
Situated in Amber the Panna Menna Ka Kund is the best-restored stepwell of Jaipur. The 16th-century structure is a riveting example of both royal and sensible architecture. It catered to the needs of the barren lands with an ingenious system designed to harvest the rainwater and reduce the temperature at the same time. The structure has four octagonal pavilions on its four corners. The three sides of the stepwell consist of a geometrical staircase leading to the level of water in the well. The fourth side is left open. The open side served as a place for daily congregations where people took respite from the summer heat . One of the unique aspects of this Baori is its inconspicuous presence. Since it is off the beaten track from typical tourist trail there is plenty of space where one can sit, chat or enjoy the views away from the crowd.
Location: Near Amber fort, Kheri Gate
Timings: 7:00 am to 6:00 pm
Entry fees: Free
Jawahar Kala Kendra
The multi-arts center was built by the government of Rajasthan to preserve the native arts and crafts of the state. So, what makes Jawahar Kala Kendra such an important tourist spot especially when it is not even a fort or a palace? The architecture of JKK spellbinds a beholder at its very first glance. Architect Charles Correa designed the building with the very same notion of “Navagraha” that was used in planning the city of Jaipur centuries ago. The center consists of eight blocks housing museums, amphitheater, auditorium, library, art display rooms, and a cafeteria. The cafeteria houses one of the oldest and most iconic coffee houses of Jaipur – Indian Coffee House. Theatre lovers from across the country flock to JKK for its very own theatre festival every year.
Location: 2, Jawaharlal Nehru Marg, Opp Commerce College, Jhalana Doongri
Timings: 9.30 am to 9.00 pm
Entry fee: Free
Bazaars and bylanes
There lies is an archaic charm in the twisting alleys of the old city of Jaipur. The bazaars of Jaipur are legendary holding on to its historical character. Here the old ways of life still continue uninterrupted. Shopaholics are left smitten in a blink in these markets. Every street has its specialty. From bangles in Maniharon Ka Raasta to Jewelry in Haldiyon Ka Raasta, these streets have a treasure trove of articles to fall for. Haggling is both expected and recommended here. The frenzy of the markets is a delight to shutterbugs as well. The food scene is also very inviting here for people who want to go local with what they eat. Ghee walon ka Raasta is famous for its savories and Laxmi Misthan Bhandaar for its sweets. The food stalls on the streets sell everything from Kachoris to Bhelpuri sandwiches catering to all kinds of palates with both authentic and adapted delicacies. To witness the bazaars at its colorful best, a visit during the festivals of Teej and Gangaur is highly recommended when a colorful procession winds magnificently through the Old City of Jaipur via Tripoliya Gate (City Palace) Tripoliya Bazar and Gangauri Bazar with chariots, decorated camels, dancing folk artists, brass bands and royal palanquins.
Timings: 11:00 am- 8:30 pm (market hours)
Birdwatching at Mansagar lake
With the removal of tonnes of toxic silt from Mansagar lake the bed of the lake has deepened and the water quality has improved. The revival of this once polluted lake has transformed it into a resurgent wetland. It has become the first ecologically revived lake in India with a fully functional waste management system. And the results are there for all to see. With the cleaning of water, the fish are abounding, and the birds flock at the lake. Grey heron, sandpipers, black-winged Stilts, Wagtail, and Bee-eaters are few of them. Apart from birdwatching, the place itself is picturesque. It is Enveloped by the Aravallis on two sides with the Jal Mahal palace resting in the middle of the lake. While you are here, don’t miss to savor the local delicacies at the street food stalls along its banks. You can even enjoy a camel ride or get photographed in traditional attire or shop for a few trinkets.
Location: Jal Mahal, Amber Road
Timing: 12:00 Pm- 10:30 Pm
Entry fee: Free
Albert Hall Museum
The oldest museum of the state is nestled in the beautiful gardens of Ram Nivas Bagh. The museum hosts an exquisite collection of ivory goods, crystal work, natural stone, and metal carved sculptures. It also contains personal belongings of the rulers of the city and an Egyptian mummy from the Ptolemaic era. The corridors of the museum are decorated with murals from Chinese, European, Egyptian, Greek, and Babylonian civilizations. Visitors can take a tour of the museum with the assistance of an audio guide. Besides being an attraction for history buffs the building itself is an architectural marvel. It is the most decorative and visually stunning building of the city. Built-in Indo-Saracenic style it is a combination of Indian, Neo, Gothic & Islamic architecture with elaborate domes and carved arches of sandstone. The building is beautifully lit in colorful lighting every evening.
Location: Museum Road, Ram Niwas Garden, Kailash Puri, Adarsh Nagar
Timings: 9:00 am – 05:00 pm; 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Closed On: Mondays
Entry Fee: Rs. 150
Light and sound show at Amber Fort
Every evening in the backdrop of ramparts, cobbled paths and Maota lake the light and sound show of Amber repeat the stories and legends of the rulers of Jaipur. This show is a glorious attempt of reviving the pride, history, and traditions of Amber. During the 50-minute show, a display of lights and folk music is combined along with the narration. The narrative of the fort’s glorious past is scripted by Gulzar, voiced by Amitabh Bachchan and music is composed by singers like Ustad Sultan Khan and Shubha Mudgal.
Location: Kesar Kyaari, Amber Fort
Timings: 6:30 pm (English)/ 7:30 pm (Hindi)
Entry Fees: Rs 295
So, are you ready to explore Jaipur beyond its forts and palaces?