Mixed feelings is probably what describes my relationship with urban India the best.
It is so wonderfully colorful, beautiful and enchanting at the same time as it can be a complete assault on all your senses. The cities are crowded and smelly, your personal space gets invaded all the time and there is absolutely no place to hide. You know that every time you stick your nose out the hotel gate you will be harassed by the numerous people who just tries to make a living, there is no such thing as an easy errand, no nipping out for a quick coffee and every single thing takes forever. All while people are the most wonderful souls, the food delicious and the eroded old buildings and nature magnificent. Jaipur is no exception.
Jaipur, Radhjastan, India
by Anna Alkebäck
It’s is a fascinating city that boasts the finest examples of Rajasthan architecture and history at the same time as it is scarred by all the problems of present day India. You find magnificent forts, palaces and temples but also chocking pollution and desperate poverty. Jaipur is a city of extremes, and most visitors either love or hate it.
It makes a haven for design junkies and foodies with all its modern offerings, placed alongside centuries-old institutions and bazaars. There is a boom in contemporary cafes and bars and quite a few upscale textile and clothing boutiques, you will want to leave room in your luggage for bargain and luxury finds.
Jaipur has a very creative and energetic feel about it with many talented artisans casting their magic. Which calls for many designers and buyers to come here for inspiration and to source among all the fantastic garments, fabrics, and accessories.
All hotels can set you up with a driver for the day or just for a few hours. Uber works splendidly but you might want feel more local and go by tuktuk. Just remember to ask the price first and always negotiate it down. With a friendly face.
Jobner Bagh 47
Where to stay
Jobner Bagh 47
A cosy family-run guesthouse located in the private gardens of the Maharaja of Jobner, designed by an Italian architect. The 11 rooms are minimal, yet traditional, while the terrace offers views of the Nahargarh Fort and the Ganesh Temple on the Aravali hills. This boutique space holds a small antique shop, a beautiful little garden and a restaurant for in house guests where chef John serves delicious, home-style Rajasthani fare. At no other place have we felt so cared for and at home as in this sweet gem of a hotel.
This boutique guesthouse marries contemporary design with a Rajasthani sensibility. The result is a fine combination of hand-painted murals, reading nooks and a comfortable outdoor area. The café is a delight and a private nicely set dinner can be pre-ordered. They even have a soap concierge!
With traditional Rajasthani architecture, a sleek pool and updated bathrooms, the haveli provides the true feeling of heritage living within the Pink City.
If you feel the need to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, this is the place. The Farm stands out for its quirky, contemporary design, which uses recycled products, ranging from plastic bottles and jute bags to discarded car parts. Located on the fringes of the city, its five rooms and two suites have been designed by 18 local artists. The hip hotel grows its own organic produce and encourages communal dining.
Eat and drink
No travel guide about Jaipur would be complete without mentioning Bar Palladio.
The place is popular for serving Italian cuisine and has become a sort of glamorous public living room, a place where locals, expats, and visitors can smoke and drink the afternoon (and evening) away. Bar Palladio is located within the garden of the historic Narain Niwas Palace. The blue and white themed interiors paired with wandering peacocks and luscious gardens make Bar Palladio the perfect choice for a romantic cocktail.
Is the sister restaurant to Bar Palladio where Mediterranean and Middle Eastern specialties are served in a gorgeous dining room that feels like a sunny conservatory. Stop in for a refreshing iced tea or crisp salad, or linger over a pot of Moroccan mint tea. No wine though, but a nice little garden.
Jaipur Modern Kitchen
Serves Mediterranean and creative vegetarian cuisine. Much of the produce is organic and locally sourced, the service attentive and food delicious.
After a day of shopping, refuel with delicious locally grown organic food at this café, located right next to the landmark textile and accessories store. A great place to escape the heat and traffic!
After water, chai is the most popular drink in the world and the Indians can drink it anytime even in the middle of a hot summer day. There are numerous chai stalls all over the city but for the real deal you must try Gulab Ji Chai Wale, a tea stall located at MI Road in Jaipur. They have been serving hot masala chai for more than 70 years and their masala chai is prepared with a secret ingredient not known to anyone but the owner.
Another oldie that has been around forever is Lassiwala, a by now iconic lassi shop on M1. Traditionally available as sweet and salted, the outlet has now also introduced a sugar free (!) variant of the popular beverage. Frequented by both locals and tourists.
Get lost inside the Pink City
… also referred to as The Old City. Wander down the many alleys of the street bazaars, zigzag your way between cows, food stalls, goats, chai sellers and tuk tuks. Making an early start is recommended, before the heat and craziness beats you down.
Me wearing a Rasa Jaipur dress.
Rasa is a favorite of mine! They stock men’s and women’s fashion, as well as home furnishings. It is a block-print store with a difference, with contemporary designs on fabrics such as silk and crepe. You are guaranteed to find unique pieces for a formal evening out as well as exquisite cushion covers and bed linen.
Housed in Narain Niwas Palace and was one of the first concept stores in Jaipur. You find a good selection of various Indian labels as well as their own fine hand-stitched kurtas for women, colorful Nehru jackets for men, pashmina cushions, and stunning accessories. If your style is contemporary, then you’ll find plenty of items to fall in love with at here.
This is the lifestyle store of French designer Thierry Journo, also located at Narain Niwas Palace. Working in traditional tie and dye, gem craft and other techniques that are used to create contemporary and edgy products in apparel, home décor and accessories.
Is famous for its high quality, block print textiles, particularly clothes. The best part of Anokhi is their café, perfect for a quick refuel while shopping with delicious salads and sandwiches. Also great for picking upp little treats to bring home to family and friends with having the market haggling.
The product selection is a mix of accessories, art and apparel from brands such as 11.11, Indri, and many more Indian designers cherishing the Indian artisans techniques. There’s also an all-day café serving Italian fare made using local produce, it is all very delicious!
A shop run by three brothers from Kashmir where you’ll find lofty scarves, shawls and bedcovers, all woven from the softest cashmere on the market. They’re pricey, embroidered pieces can run into the thousands, but top quality. If my wallet was thicker, I´d go crazy in here!
For either a trip around the city making stops at pottery, jewelry, clothing or textile shops, or visiting the major sights within the city, book a Pink City Rickshaw tour. Women from low income households, who are specially trained in hospitality, run the tours and drive the bright pink tuk tuks.