The city of Jaipur is India’s tenth-most populous, with at least three million inhabitants at last count. It is also viewed both within India and beyond as a city that manages to balance a long and rich history with modernity that marks it out among its competitors. Historians will, of course, be more interested in the former, and you can be assured that any visit to Jaipur will offer plenty of opportunities to visit incredible palaces and sight-seeing spots that give a real sense of the city’s past. From the religious pilgrimage spots, through a few nods to its educational history, there’s something here for every visitor. Below, we’ll explore that element of this Rajasthani city in greater depth, with a look into the best historical places in Jaipur, India.
1. Jai Mahal
The name “Jal Mahal” literally means “Water Palace”, and that’s what you’ll find if you journey to the Man Sagar Lake near Jaipur; this incredible monument was built - on an island in the middle of the lake - at the end of the 18th century for the Maharajah Jai Singh and offers wondrous views of the surrounding Nahargarh Hills. Renovation work has been carried out on the palace, which has included the building of several storeys that are technically beneath the waterline of the lake, anchored into the bedrock of the island on which it sits.
Address: Amer Rd, Jal Mahal, Amer, Jaipur, Rajasthan 302002
Opening hours: Wed: 24 hours; Mon, Tue, Thur - Sat: 12pm -10:30pm; Sun: 12pm - 10pm
Price: Under 1 USD
2. Amer Fort
This Mughal-influenced hill fort is found 11km (6.8 miles) from Jaipur city and is, in the estimation of many, the area’s standout tourist destination. It is certainly one of the most visually striking, constructed from marble and red sandstone, and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. The fort was built, to something close to how we would recognise it now, in the 16th Century by Man Singh I - it has been added to and renovated since, but what you see when you visit will be much what was seen all those centuries ago.
Address: Devisinghpura, Amer, Jaipur, Rajasthan 302001
Opening hours: 8am - 5:30pm; 6:30 - 9:15pm (daily)
Price: 500 INR (7 USD)
3. Hawa Mahal
Hawa Mahal - loosely translated, it means “Palace of Breeze” - is one of Jaipur’s most striking sights, and an interesting piece of architecture in its own right. At five storeys tall, it is the highest building ever completed without a foundation. Due to the curvature of the building, it can stay up without one. It’s also beautiful - built in pink and red sandstone, it is unmistakable as a part of the main city landscape. Interestingly, it was built with a lattice framework to allow royal ladies to look onto parades and celebrations without breaking strict purdah rules.
Address: Hawa Mahal Rd, Badi Choupad, J.D.A. Market, Pink City, Jaipur, Rajasthan 302002
Website: Hawa Mahal
Opening hours: 9am - 5pm (daily)
Price: 200 INR (3 USD)
4. Rambagh Palace
If you’ve ever looked at a grand royal palace and felt that fleeting moment of envy for the people who got to live there, then the Rambagh Palace might be very much to your liking. Built originally in 1835 as a palace for the Rajasthani royal family, it has in recent years been internally converted into a hotel where you can book a stay and enjoy the views, and the opulence, that 19th-Century royalty once indulged in. Within the hotel, you can also enjoy the Albert Hall museum with its wide-ranging collection of art and historical exhibits.
Address: Bhawani Singh Rd, Rambagh, Jaipur, Rajasthan 302005
Website: Rambagh Palace
Price: Viewing free
5. City Palace
One thing that you are sure to notice when visiting Jaipur’s historical palaces is that there is very much a theme of warmly coloured sandstone that gives everything a vibrant edifice. This is also true of the City Palace, which was built upon the establishment of the city itself, in 1727. The Palace was the city seat of the Maharajah of Jaipur until 1949, shortly after India’s independence, and contains galleries aplenty as well as sweeping courtyards; particular credit should be paid to the textile gallery, which features a beautiful pashmina carpet.
Address: Tulsi Marg, Gangori Bazaar, J.D.A. Market, Pink City, Jaipur, Rajasthan 302002
Opening hours: 9:30am - 5pm (daily)
Price: 500 and 900 INR (7 - 13 USD)
This remarkable 18th-Century observatory is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is well worth seeing for that among other reasons. The entire building is built out of stone and allowed the astronomers of some centuries past to observe the night sky by means of its dedicated structures. As a point of curiosity, Jantar Mantar is also home to the world’s largest sundial, standing an impressive 73 feet tall (22.3 meters). The observatory was finished in 1734.
Skip the Line: Jantar Mantar E-Tickets with Optional Jaipur Sightseeing Trip
Duration: 2 to 4 hours
7. Birla Mandir
The beautiful and imposing Birla Mandir - also known as the Laxmi Narayan Temple, in reference to a manifestation of the Hindu deity Vishnu - is one of a number of Temples of the same name built across India by the Birla family. Like other examples in the chain, the Jaipur Birla Mandir is built in white marble and features an ornate entry staircase with beautifully carved pillars. The site is a frequent pilgrimage destination for Hindu worshippers.
Birla Mandir Jaipur
Address: Jawahar Lal Nehru Marg, Tilak Nagar, Jaipur, Rajasthan 302004
8. Jaigarh Fort
The proximity of Jaigarh to the more famous Amer Fort is not a coincidence - this rugged hillside fort was built to overlook and specifically protect Amer. The kingdom’s ruler Jai Singh II ordered its construction in 1726, and as a result, both the fort and its surrounding palace complex are named after him. Interestingly, it is possible to make your way from Jaigarh to Amer Fort, and vice versa, by means of an underground tunnel specifically constructed for that purpose.
Address: Devisinghpura, Amer, Rajasthan 302028
Opening hours: Sat: 9:30am - 8pm; Sun - Fri: 9:30am - 4:45pm
Price: 85 INR (2 USD)
9. Nahargarh Fort
Along with Jaigarh and Amer Forts, Nahargarh makes up a collection of three outlook points that were constructed for the purpose of protecting Jaipur as it sits below them. Nahargarh Fort, along with its distinguished military history, also has another claim to fame, being the site of a wax museum that commemorates stars from fields as diverse as the world of sport, freedom fighters and Bollywood celebrities. Although the fort never came under direct attack, its place in history is secured as it was where peace treaties were signed with forces at war with Jaipur.
Address: Krishna Nagar, Brahampuri, Jaipur, Rajasthan 302002
Opening hours: 10am - 6pm (daily)
Price: 200 INR for 25 for students (3 USD)
Jaipur: a standout part of India's history
Any visitor to Jaipur will be struck by the beauty of the city and its surroundings. From jaw-dropping hilltop forts to stunning sandstone palaces, there is something remarkable to see everywhere you look. When you step inside, an added dimension makes it all even more incredible as you learn more about the history of this stunning part of the world. If you’re planning to visit India, it’s worth recognising that there’s a lot of India to see, and you can’t take it all in with just the one trip - but Jaipur should definitely be one of the first places on your list.
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