Adding to the list of flamboyant forts, bustling markets huddled inside the walled quarter and bright textiles, there’s one more reason that has secured Jaipur’s position in the Golden Triangle of north India – the annual Jaipur Literature Festival. The already vibrant city sees people flocking to its grounds in thousands during late January for a week.
Between 21 January and 25 January, the world’s largest free literature festival will be held at Diggi Palace in Jaipur. But why stop at that? Here’s our list of things to do in Jaipur that are sure to make your stay more memorable.
Jaipur is well connected to major north Indian cities by air. That said, the most convenient way to get in from Delhi is by Shatabdi or by road (265km/4hours).
Where to stay
Stay just 4km away from the Diggi Palace at Dera Rawatsar, a family run boutique inn. Book ahead, as the tastefully furnished 16 rooms are extremely popular with travellers. The hotel’s sunny poolside, vintage furniture, a sprawling green garden and vantage location are the highlights of the stay (tel: 0141-2206559; www.derarwatsar.com; Rs.4000 onwards).
When travelling to Jaipur, settle for nothing less than a royal experience. It is the land of havelis, after all. The Royal Heritage Haveli on Khatipura road is the perfect retreat for weary travellers; think sandy coloured walls in contrast with the bright green garden; a decidedly archaic feel with old furniture; Rajasthani upholstery; and indulgent local dining experiences (tel: 0141-4082121; www.royalheritagehaveli.com; 218, Opposite All India Radio Station, Mirza Ismail Road, Sindhi Camp, Jaipur; from Rs.1800 onwards).
Head 3km east of Jaipur to a stunning collection of centuries-old temples at Galta inhabited by thousands of furry friends. The ancient temples hug the sides of a narrow ravine, with a few pools of water that punctuate the topography. What is more interesting than the temples itself is the sight of monkeys splashing about in the water. Make your way up to the Surya Mandir from where you can get a bird’s eye view of the entire valley.
Walk along the 1km ridge of the towering Nahargarh fort at sunset, north of Jaipur. Built in the early 18th century, the fort offers a mesmerising view of the city bathed in a soft evening glow. The erstwhile palace apartments where the king kept his treasured concubines is the only surviving structure now. It’s best to return from the fort just before sunset.
A shopaholic’s paradise
Shopping enthusiasts can whet their bargaining skills at the markets that are inside the red walled city of Old Jaipur. One can easily find a robust collection of silver, textiles, leather and more here. Silver jewellery will lure you to Johari bazaar while Bapu bazaar will have you drooling over its famous mojri footwear. If you’re looking for stone sculptures then Khazano Wala Rasta is where you should be headed. Tip: don’t plan your market trip on a Sunday which is when most shops are closed
Artistically woven carpets and rugs is another reason why shoppers flock to these areas. First introduced by the Mughal king Akbar, the designs were inspired from parts of Persia and were made from wool, silk, jute and several synthetic fibres. Even now, the carpet industry thrives in the city’s Kishanpol Bazaar, Haldiyon Ka Rasta, Maniharon Ka Rasta and M.I. Road.
Gastronomic Wonders in Jaipur
Tapri, Jaipur’s favourite hangout on Prithviraj Road is where you might bump in to fellow travellers and local youngsters while enjoying a cup of tea. This is one of the hippest haunts of the city music jam session sometimes and chai souvenirs that you can take home (tel: 0141-5144477; www.tapri.net; timings: 7.30am-10.15pm).
It is difficult to tear yourself from Suvarna Mahal at Taj Rambagh Palace for its brilliant ethnic ambience. The former dining room of the Maharaja of Jaipur, the restaurant’s classic vibe and local cuisine is sure to make a dinner special. Try the Lal Maas (spicy lamb curry dish), the signature dish of Rajasthan (tel: 0141-2211919; www.tajhotels.com).
Whether it’s Amish Tripathi’s blazing upward trajectory or Basharat Peer’s Curfewed Night, there is something for everyone at the Lit Fest. Other big names making an appearance at the event include – Anupama Chopra, Chetan Bhagat, Abdul Kalam, Hanif Kureishi, Alexis Wright, Deepti Kapoor, Madhu Trehan, Narayana Murthy, Tshering Tashi, Avantika Sujan and many more.
Vitals for the Lit Fest
To know more about the Lit Fest or to register, log on to www.jaipurliteraturefestival.org. It is imperative to register before entering. There’ll be large crowds and less seating, so arrive early at the venue and decide which talks and seminars you want to attend in a day.