How to Spend 3 Days in Jaipur India

3 Days in Jaipur India: Jantar Mantar giant sundial
Jaipur is a key corner of the Golden Triangle in India. In fact, the Golden Triangle comprised of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur provides a great introduction to India for first time visitors. We spent 3 days in Jaipur as part of a two week adventure centered around a business trip to Hyderabad with a week of vacation added on to explore the Golden Triangle. Read on for more about the logistics of getting from Delhi to Jaipur and things to do in India’s Pink City once you arrive.

Delhi to Jaipur by Train

Taking the train in India can be a little intimidating at first. However, it’s a great way to explore and taking the train is more economical than hiring a car and driver to explore India’s Golden Triangle. We took the train from Gurgaon to Jaipur, Jaipur to Delhi, and a round trip from Delhi to Agra. The schedules and routes can be a bit difficult to navigate, but we figured out how to book tickets on the best trains in advance over the Internet at cleartrip.com. The queues in the train stations were quite long, so we were thankful that we were able to skip the line and head right to the tracks. On board, we were seated in Comfort Class. We were served a large bottle of water and breakfast. We opted not to drink the tea over concerns about the purity of the water but enjoyed the vegetarian entree which was piping hot. We caught a glimpse of the countryside out of the dirty window. I was a bit surprised when I went to the loo and saw a sign that read please don't use in the station. I soon understood why. I could see the tracks rushing by underneath the toilet.

Transportation in Jaipur

We arrived in Jaipur and climbed the stairs leading from the track to the exit. We'd tried to arrange for a radio taxi in advance but we did a loop around the chaotic parking lot and there was no one to be found. The number of motorcycles and mopeds outside the Jaipur train station was impressive. A persistent auto-rickshaw driver persuaded us to let him take us to the hotel. We bargained hard and decided to go for it. He somehow managed to fit 2 passengers, 2 suitcases, 2 backpacks, and a handbag into the back of the rickshaw. Soon we were on our way peering out over a giant pile of luggage. Less than 30 minutes later, we'd arrived at the Naila Bagh Palace, our home for the next few days.
Things to do in Jaipur India: take an auto-rickshaw ride

We took another auto-rickshaw ride into India's Pink City past a variety of stalls. Once we got inside the town walls, the building colors were quite distinctive. On our return, we opted to try a cycle rickshaw. Our human powered transport gave us a more slow motion view of our surroundings. These guys work really hard for their money (about 50 rupees, about $0.75 USD at the time of writing for a mile+ journey). At one point, our driver left us in the middle of a busy intersection to ask a traffic cop for directions back to our hotel.

We also managed to get around a bit on foot -- not the easiest mode of transport in India but the best for really seeing the place. We spotted a cow wandering around the streets of Jaipur. We also spotted a lazy goat taking refuge in the shade.
Walking in Jaipur India: cow in the road

Pedestrians, cars, buses, and auto-rickshaws share the road in the loosest sense of the word. Pedestrians are the lowest in the pecking order; larger vehicles have the right of way. It's survival of the fittest on the streets of India. We had to negotiate through a number of gates on our walk through Jaipur, timing our crossing to avoid the tourist buses whisking foreigners around town. The streets of Jaipur felt chaotic with whizzing traffic, construction, and touts. Pedestrians, mopeds, rickshaws and taxis vied for space in a roundabout. In India, getting there is definitely an adventure.

Where to Stay in Jaipur

Where to stay in Jaipur India: Naila Bagh Palace

In Jaipur, we stayed at the Naila Bagh Palace, a heritage hotel. We approached up a lavish driveway. The open living room was decked out with stained glass windows and period furniture. Our Maharaja Suite had high ceilings and a rich historical flavor. The sun shone on this oasis with the usual chaotic traffic kept at bay just outside the gate. A small sundial graced the lawn. Proud peacocks strutted their stuff. The exterior was painted in bright yellows and pinks. By night, the property buzzed with sounds of wedding-goers.

We sat for a bit in the grand living room and read the paper. I was intrigued by the matrimonials section. Everyone seemed to be incredibly good looking, smart, and seeking the same. Out back was a dining area and pool. We sat in the screened terrace and enjoyed a freshly prepared lunch. Because the sights and sounds of Jaipur were so relentless, we enjoyed being able to come back to this quiet sanctuary after our adventures in town.
3 days in Jaipur India: Naila Bagh Palace interior

3 Days in Jaipur: Day 1 - In and Around the Walls of the Pink City

Jaipur’s Hawa Mahal

We checked out some of the key tourist attractions in Jaipur including Hawa Mahal, a palace with an extraordinary number of windows that allowed women to look out on the streets below without in turn being seen. After checking out the impressive structure from the front, we walked around the hectic market to a back alley entrance. The interior was quite lovely as well with mostly Indian tourists taking snapshots of the various views.

We progressed around the perimeter of the Hawa Mahal past these turreted guard towers. Once again, locals were interested in taking pictures of us. In this case, a guy approached, pulled my husband's sunglasses off his face, put them on, and struck a pose. I couldn't resist capturing the moment with my own camera.

I peeked through one of the many windows onto the scene below. Many of the windows were filled with stained glass but roped off so we couldn't get near. Other windows beckoned invitingly. Once again, we enjoyed watching the activity below from this birds-eye view. We admired the detailed flourishes along the interior. We could catch a glimpse of the Amber Fort on the ridge. The small domes spread out into the distance. I took the opportunity to get up close to the lattice-work. I spied a monkey hanging out on the exterior of the building! We eyed Jantar Mantar and its giant sundial in the distance. Tempted, we made our way over to have a look at the astrological instruments that seem hundreds of years ahead of their time.
Points of interest in Jaipur India: Hawa Mahal

Jantar Mantar

We arrived at Jantar Mantar, arguably one of the best places to visit in Jaipur, and paid our 100 rupee entry fee. At least the differential between the local and tourist price was only 5x in this instance. We hired a fixed price guide to take us around and explain the sights of Jantar Mantar. Built by Maharaja Jai Singh II in the early 1700s, Jantar Mantar is an impressive collection of astronomical instruments. By far, the most striking instrument was an extremely large sundial accurate to 20 seconds. Other instruments measured time, location, and the position of celestial bodies. We watched one of the other guides demonstrate one of the instruments. Many of the instruments were composed of two hemispheres with spaces in between to aid accuracy of measurement (allowing the person doing the measurement to get up close to get a reading). Each zodiac sign was represented by a carefully spaced sundial. It felt quite hot in the sun with very little shade available. After about an hour exploring, we took one last look at the signature sundial and headed on our way.
3 days in Jaipur India: Jantar Mantar sundial

Jaipur’s Monkey Temple

We'd arranged for Feraz, the guy that took us from the train station to our hotel, to come back for an evening ride to the Monkey Temple above Jaipur. Turns out he had a better offer so he sent his partner Ali instead. That was fine by us because Ali had a pimped out auto-rickshaw complete with speakers to blast Indian pop hits into the backseat. We hopped in and were on our way! Just outside the Pink City walls, we pulled into an alley lined with farm animals, wild boar, monkeys, and debris. Ali pointed up the hill toward the temple. A small boy befriended us pointing out some key attractions on the way and taking our pictures.
Things to do in Jaipur: Hike to Jaipur's Monkey Temple
En route, a goat peeked his head over the side of the path. We looked back toward where we had come and at one of the seven gates to Jaipur. A large number of monkeys lined the path and surrounding buildings. A baby wild boar was adorable but surprising to see. We got some great views of Jaipur and the surrounding forts. We passed countless monkeys hanging out in the dusky light.

Our friend insisted on feeding peanuts to the monkeys for our entertainment. Because monkeys can carry rabies, we kept a safe distance and discouraged our friend from getting too close. He was not to be deterred. I spotted a monkey and cow walking side-by-side on the path like they owned the place.

A man comes around each day and feeds chapatis to the resident monkeys. We neared the top and looked both down and up. We'd come a long way and could see the temple at the peak within view. Photos aren't allowed in the temple but I was able to pay 10 rupees to go inside and get a blessing. On the way back down, I spotted a family of monkeys seemingly watching the sunset. Gorgeous!
What to see in Jaipur India: 3 monkeys on rocks near the Jaipur Monkey Temple

Jal Mahal, Jaipur’s Water Palace

On our return to the hotel, Ali took us on a detour to the Jal Mahal (Water Palace) in the middle of Man Sagar Lake. The Jal Mahal was beautiful in the light of the setting sun. It really seemed to glow. The promenade itself was lined with touts, rickshaw drivers, and locals taking a walk but the center of the lake was entirely peaceful and serene. And with that, we concluded our day of exploration in Jaipur and pointed the auto-rickshaw back toward our hotel.
Points of interest in Jaipur: Jal Mahal, Jaipur's water palace

3 Days in Jaipur: Day 2 - Exploring Jaipur on Foot

Walking in Jaipur

The Naila Bagh Palace is about a mile from the gates of the Pink City. We bucked convention and decided to walk in to Jaipur's walled center. This section chronicles the sights and sounds along the way:

  • We saw a stall heaped with unpainted pottery. 
  • We noticed how the scaffolds on construction sites were made of reeds tied with rope rather than something more sturdy. 
  • We saw the cars, rickshaws, buses and mopeds that we were sharing space with. 
  • We passed the Albert Hall Museum. 
  • We saw giant baskets of poppadoms that the vendor carried around on his head. 

Once again, crossing the street was a 'run for your life' experience. Before long, we could see the gates of the Jaipur in the distance.

Walking toward the Jaipur city gates

Yay! We made it! It was worth walking just to see up close the ornate decoration on the gate. We also appreciated the stone mosaic patterns under foot.

  • We saw a photo store with a window display featuring hundreds of rolls of film. 
  • We spotted a full sized head of cattle just chilling out on the street. 
  • A monkey looked at himself in the rear-view mirror while an old man observed, amused. 
  • We passed vendors selling lentils, chickpeas, and more. It's too bad that it is risky for westerners to sample street food in India. 
We concluded our walk with a stroll through the market enjoying the hustle and bustle before entering the City Palace.
Monkey looking in the mirror of a motorcycle while a man looks on in Jaipur India

Jaipur City Palace

The City Palace is another must stop on the tourist circuit through Jaipur. The palace surrounds an open expanse of inner courtyards. Many of the buildings have been turned into museum exhibits. The inner sanctum of the palace was flanked by doors with an amazing array of decorations. I particularly liked the peacock doorway. Ivory elephants flanked one of the entrances to the palace. A 'guard' offered to pose for a picture near a carved elephant...for a 10 rupee tip of course. We caught glimpses of the palace through regal scalloped arches. The yellow and pink architecture was striking.
3 days in Jaipur: Jaipur City Palace

Vegetarian Dinner at Natraj

After completing our tour of the palace, we hopped into a cycle rickshaw and headed for Natraj, a vegetarian restaurant recommended in our guidebook. We each enjoyed a thali (sampler platter) and then capped the meal with some mouth freshening mix. Natraj was known for its variety of Indian desserts. We bought a few (6 cost about 50 rupees, $0.75 USD total) and took them back to our hotel for later. We made ourselves a cup of coffee and enjoyed our dessert in the peace and quiet of the Naila Bagh Palace heritage estate. Several of the desserts were covered in silver leaf. We didn't know it at the time but the metal coating was edible. It was a sweet end to a sweet day.
Sweets at Natraj vegetarian restaurant in Jaipur India

3 Days in Jaipur: Day 3 - Jaipur Fort and The Royal Treatment

Amber Fort

3 days in Jaipur: Amber fort viewed from a distance

On our last day in Jaipur, we hired a car for half a day to take us to the forts situated on the ridge around the city. En route, we spotted camels hanging out at the side of the road. We could see Tiger Fort in the distance. Soon, Amber Fort came into view. We heard that you could take an elephant ride to the fort for 900 rupees (about $20 USD at the time of our visit). We couldn't resist and made a beeline for the elephant departure area. We paid our fare and mounted our elephant from a small platform. It was a 15 minute, slow and undulating ride to the top.
Elephant rides to the entrance of Amber Fort in Jaipur India
We could see a lovely lake and saffron gardens in the distance. A steady stream of elephant traffic made its way up and down from the fort. We soon arrived in a large open courtyard and disembarked from another raised platform. We negotiated for a guide to show us around Amber Fort. We climbed a steep set of stairs to the entrance.
What to do in Jaipur India: explore the courtyards of Amber Fort
Amber Fort showcases a mix of Mughal (Muslim) and Hindu inspired elements. We passed a lovely green garden. The Hall of Mirrors was also inspiring. Our guide had us stand in a particular spot and was able to take our picture through the mirrored reflection. We ascended higher into the Amber Fort and peeked out onto the scene below. Windows covered with ornate lattice-work allowed residents to see out without anyone being able to see inside. The fort was awash in rich colors and floral patterns. We looked out another scalloped arch to the neighboring Tiger Fort. We wandered through one courtyard after another. We chanced upon a snake charmer rousing his cobra with a song.
Man giving a thumbs-up with a snake charmer in the background at Amber Fort in Jaipur India

We reached the top level of Amber Fort and peered down around us. Rough-hewn windows gave a glimpse onto the surrounding paths and courtyards. We descended back into the central courtyard. As we descended from the Amber Fort, we spotted some motion in the trees. Monkeys! These were different than the ones we saw at the Monkey Temple with black faces and exceedingly long tails. We descended further and admired the Amber Fort spilling over the hill.

We asked our driver to take us to a nearby Hindu temple down a small winding road in Amber town.
Elephant statue at a Hindu temple near Amber Fort in Jaipur India

Tiger Fort

Our final stop of the day was a quick tour of Tiger Fort. We saw India's largest cannon, Jai Vana. We could see Man Sagar Lake in the distance and the immersed Jal Mahal (Water Palace).
India's Largest Cannon, Jai Vana, at Tiger Fort in Jaipur India


The Opulence of Rambagh Palace

The Naila Bagh Palace where we were staying was a nice hotel, but we'd heard that a stop in Jaipur was incomplete without a visit to the Rambagh Palace. We rolled up to the opulent hotel in an auto-rickshaw. We had to hop out and walk from the security gate since they wouldn't let our driver through. The walk past the manicured lawns and gardens was worth it. We spotted peacocks and other exotic birds hanging out.
Front entrance of Rambagh Palace in Jaipur India
We approached the entrance to the Rambagh Palace just as a tour group was pulling up. It was assumed that we were with the group and as a result, we were showered with rose petals and guided up the stairs by a guy with a big decorative umbrella after we went through security. It pays to blend in. We took a quick walk around the palace to check out our surroundings. We quickly settled into a couch on the terrace as the sun was starting to set. We ordered a glass of wine that came with complimentary snacks and canapes.
In the courtyard at Rambagh Palace in Jaipur India
After the sun went down, the palace was lit up brilliantly. Traditional Indian dancers took to the makeshift stage in the courtyard. We were enjoying ourselves so much that we decided to milk the experience a bit longer by ordering dessert. We enjoyed a trio of Indian custards with caramelized tops (like crème brûlée). Amazing!

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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: How to Spend 3 Days in Jaipur India
How to Spend 3 Days in Jaipur India
Find out what to do in Jaipur in 3 days. Travel from Delhi to Jaipur by train. Spend 3 days in Jaipur as part of a visit to India's Golden Triangle.
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