The bustling city of Jaipur lies on the edge of Rajasthans Thar Desert, and is peppered with crumbling forts, royal palaces and ancient temples. Its affectionately known as the Pink City, as its most prominent buildings are washed in a salmon pink colour. Jaipur is a fascinating maze of narrow alleyways, opulent palaces and grand historic sites which will awaken all of the senses. The medieval and modern exist harmoniously in the Pink City; in any one moment you may spot camels and elephants jostling for space with motorbikes and cars, alongside turbaned village elders talking on their mobile phone. Heres our top 5 things to do in while in Jaipur, Rajasthan: 1. Explore the City Palace Museum Nestled in the heart of the city, the palace has been home to the rulers of Jaipur since the early 18th century. The sprawling complex is considered to be the citys most important landmark, and showcases a superb blend of traditional Rajput and Mughal architecture. The sheer opulence of the palace is a tribute to the wealth of former maharajas and their lavish lifestyles. Today, part of the complex is open to the public as the City Palace Museum, which houses a rare collection of arms, carpets, costumes and paintings. A notable exhibit is a pair of pure silver vessels, which are the largest single pieces of silver in the world. 2. Visit the Jantar Mantar Located close to the palace is the Jantar Mantar, one of the five observatories built by Sawai Jai Singh. His observatory in Jaipur is the largest and the best preserved. Built between 1728 and 1734, the observatory houses a collection of 16 complex astronomical instruments. The Unnatanasha Yantra was used to determine the position of stars and planets at any time of day or night, and the Narivalaya Yantra sundials calculate time by following the solar cycle. Some of the instruments are still used to forecast how hot the summer months will be, and to predict the arrival of the monsoon. 3. Climb Amber Fort Looming over Jaipur on a scenic hilltop, Amber Fort features both Rajput and Mughal architecture. It was built in the 16th century, and was the original residence of Rajput royalty until Jaipur city was constructed. The fort contains a number of exquisite palaces, grand halls, gardens and temples. Rich mirror work at the Sheesh Mahal adds to the splendour of Amber Fort. Rather than walk up the cobbled pathway to the entrance, Amber Fort is best climbed by elephant. Elephant rides are available throughout the day at the foot of the fort, along with a mahout. 4. Take a private sunset elephant trek at Dera Amer A private sunset elephant trek at Dera Amer is an unforgettable experience, and allows you to get up close and personal with a majestic elephant. Located on the rural outskirts of Jaipur, Dera Amer provides a peaceful backdrop; a welcome relief to recharge your batteries from the hustle and bustle of the Pink City. When arriving at Dera Amer, youll be introduced to your elephant, after which you can help feed your elephant and bathe her in the nearby lake. Your mahout would then guide you atop of the elephant, where youd proceed for a sunset trek through the surrounding jungle. A lavish dinner would be served afterwards at Dera Amer. The entire experience is around two hours. For larger groups, games of Elephant Polo can be arranged. 5. Go hot air ballooning in Jaipur Gently float over the Pink City in a hot air balloon. Hot air ballooning is a thrilling way to experience India and get a different perspective of the country; imagine having a peaceful view of stunning natural scenery from a calm place high above the crowds. Youll float over Amber Fort and across local villages, with the smiling locals waving up at you. Where to stay in Jaipur Jaipur offers a wide choice of luxury accommodations, most notably the elegant Taj Rambagh Palace. The palace is often described as the Jewel in the Crown of Jaipur and is an opulent reminder of Jaipurs grand past. The Rambagh evokes a royal bygone era of princes and maharajas, giving its guests a taste of royal living in Jaipur. This grand historic palace has been carefully restored to its former grandeur down to the finest detail. Each richly renovated room has opulent interiors in keeping with its regal past, showcasing hand painted fresco work and regal four-poster beds. The Taj Rambagh Palace is a distinct experience and would ensure a luxurious stay in Jaipur. Madeleine Hann is CEO and Co-Founder of Indian Excursions Co.
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