It is believed that Jaipur was created to impress the British court and hence it is filled with fanciful palaces, whimsical observatories and dusty pink buildings which seem straight out of a fairy tale. On the occasion of Prince Albert’s visit in 1876, Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh in a bid to beautify the city with uniformity imposed a law to paint all buildings of the city in a single shade of terracotta pink. This shade of pink was said to symbolize royalty, yet effuse a sense of welcome and I always loved the idea of visiting “Pink City” as a child. Today, though Jaipur has spread in an ungainly way with a very busy urban hub, it still holds within itself magical pockets and loads of child-friendly activities. Here is my tried and tested list of how to enjoy Jaipur with kids.
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First of all understanding the destination
A very popular destination in India Jaipur is a part of the Golden Triangle tourist circuit (along with Delhi and Agra). A smaller city than Delhi, with lots of exciting attractions to offer, Jaipur is a good introduction to India for the kids. There are plenty of things to do in Jaipur with kids and it is easy to spend five days in the Pink City, without getting bored. While the highlights of Jaipur remain its stunning architecture, there are plenty of exotic bazaars, shopping, eating, day trips and narrow bustling alleys to keep the little ones hooked. Plus, the city is full of camels, elephants, horses, and beautiful forts which offer plenty of places for them to run around. The hustle bustle of the colourful Jaipur streets will entrance them, and add to those wobbly turbans, swirling mustaches and a magnificent tapestry of customs, rituals, and centuries-old religious practices. It is Rajasthan in a glimpse and the perfectly exciting sneak peek fo what the rest of the India vacation has to offer.
The attractions of Jaipur
The main sights of Jaipur are grouped together in the old part of the city. A few spill over into the neighbouring town of Amer, but the labyrinthine lanes are so deeply enmeshed that they all seem within close range of each other. The city streets are quintessential India, with chaotic traffic, a medley of cars, buses, tukuks, horse and camel carts, immobile cows and pedestrians. Look out for speedy motorbikes and honking cars and take care of the little ones. Weaving a baby car in and out of that traffic can be difficult, and a baby backpack makes you feel safer. Since the attractions are all grouped closely, you can hop from one to another very easily. Easy availability of tuktuks makes sightseeing easier and quicker, though be prepared to bargain hard for the ride.
– The stunning Amer Fort is a must see attraction when in Jaipur with kids
The ancient settlement of Amer used to be a city itself but now has been swallowed up by Jaipur completely. The magnificent 16th century Amer Fort is the highlight of the area and it is a must visit attraction when in Jaipur with kids. A vast palace complex, along with beautiful courtyards, stunning gates, and garden, lies within the thick pinkish gold sandstone walls and there is a lot of space for the little ones to explore. Think of it as a magical fairytale castle filled with frescoes, carvings, a maze of halls, temples, and gates and you will understand why kids love playing hide and seek there. Amer Fort’s intricate floral stonework, inlaid work, latticed marble, and mirrored walls are simply breathtaking and its hilltop location provides stunning city views. You can ride up the fort ramparts for an extra exotic twist to your visit, although the welfare of the animals by the owners are debatable.
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– A hike up to the Jaigarh Fort is recommended for the adventurous teens
Hike the steep hill from Amer Fort to reach the sedate Jaigarh Fort. Also known as the “Victory Fort”, it was built in 1726 to protect the Amer Fort complex. This fort offers fantastic views and is home to the world’s largest cannon on wheels. The Jaigarh Fort is open daily from 8 AM – 6 PM.
– The whimsical Jantar Mantar
On the world heritage list, Jantar Mantar is fun for the entire family. A collection of architectural astronomical instruments, built by Maharaja (King) Jai Singh II in the 1700s, Jantar Mantar is a mind-boggling observatory. It has fourteen giant instruments created for measuring time, predict eclipses, observe the constellation of stars and more. It is a great place to spend half a day in Jaipur with kids and can be a fascinating experience for mathematics and science lovers. Try to schedule it for early morning or late afternoon since the midday heat can be scorching in the open space.
– Do not miss the beautiful Hawa Mahal when visiting Jaipur with kids
The pink Hawa Mahal or the Palace of the Winds is one of the most prominent sights of Jaipur. In fact, the honeycombed Hawa Mahal has been the official face of Jaipur and it is a stunning building with nine hundred and fifty-three (953) windows. Built in 1799, these windows or jharokhas provided the royal women view of everyday life without the chance of being seen by unwanted eyes. These ladies were not allowed to appear in public and the intricately decorated tiny windows were their gateway to the outside world. Even today, it is great fun for the kids to peek through the tiny windows to watch the bustling street life below. The Hawa Mahal is open on all days from 9 AM – 5 PM and audio guides in different languages are available.
– The gorgeous City Palace is a crowd pleaser
The impressive City Palace is a great place to spend a day in Jaipur with kids. Located right in the middle of the Old City, it is a huge complex of palaces, courtyards, museums, gardens, and gates. The complex showcases a beautiful blend of Rajasthani, Mughal and Western architecture and was constructed by Maharaja Jai Singh. There is a nice cafe inside the complex and a small shopping area, where traditional puppet shows are available upon request. The palace museums house some very unique royal objects and they range from enormous silver urns, princely clothes, intricate weapons, and manuscripts. Complex, full of experiences, and a perfect introduction to princely Rajasthan, the City Palace is a must visit attraction when in Jaipur with kids. It is open daily from 9.30 AM – 5 PM and for a more elaborate glimpse of the private lives of the royals, opt for the Royal Grandeur Tour. Once in the museum, do not miss out the collection of royal garbs worn by Sawai Madho Singh I, who was reputed to be 2 m tall, weighed 250 kgs and had 108 wives.
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The practicalities of visiting Jaipur with kids
Jaipur is a very busy city and there are pushy beggars, overzealous salesmen, loud noise, and hazardous traffic. It is not a kind of a place where you can stroll in peace with a baby car or trying to walk with a toddler who wants to run free. You need to keep an eye on your older children from the traffic and when this gets too much, head out to some of Jaipur’s lesser-known tourist attractions. Relatively less crowded, green, and with lots of open outdoor space, these are oases of calm in the middle of touristy Jaipur.
The lesser-known stunning attractions for families visiting Jaipur with kids
Gaitore Royal Cenotaphs
– Gaitore is a royal cremation ground for the Kachhwaha Rajput kings and the royal family members. Located in a narrow valley on Jaipur-Amer road it is fifteen kilometers away from the main city and is an oasis of tranquility. The complex has cenotaphs (chhatris) made of marble and sandstone with Rajasthani carvings dedicated to the erstwhile kings who ruled Jaipur. Showcasing a perfect harmony of Islamic and Hindu temple architecture, Gaitore has cenotaphs of Sawai Ram Singh, Sawai Madho Singh, Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II and their predecessors. Among all the monuments, the cenotaph of Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II is most impressive with its intricate peacock carvings and beautiful white marble relief work. The cenotaphs are open daily from 9 AM – 5 PM.
Sisodia Rani Palace Garden
– Around six kilometers from the main city center, on the Agra Rd via the Ghat Gate, the Sisodia Rani ka Bagh (Palace Garden) is a perfect place to escape the urban chaos in Jaipur with kids. The beautiful terraced gardens decorated with fountains and statues were built in the 18th century by Maharaja Jai Singh II. Dedicated to his second wife, the gardens are overlooked by the Sisodia Rani Palace, the outer walls of which are decorated with murals of hunting scenes. The gardens look lovely against the backdrop of the Aravalli Hills and are frequented by prancing peacocks and monkeys.
Galtaji or the Monkey Temple
– This one is straight from the ‘Jungle Book’. Squeezed between cliffs in a rocky valley, Galtaji is a partially abandoned complex of Hindu temples. Built in magnificent palatial style, there are several temples, sacred water tanks, and holy spring located inside the complex. It is home to large tribes of pesky macaques and graceful silver langurs and is thus popularly known as the Monkey Temple. Easily accessible by tuktuk or by a breathtaking hike, Galtaji is a great place to blow off some steam in Jaipur with kids. It is a photographers delights and houses some fantastic murals. It can be combined with a visit to Sisodia Rani Palace Garden.
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Activities to enjoy in Jaipur with kids
Salim’s Paper factory
– A really interesting place for kids and adults alike, Salim’s Paper is the largest paper factory in India. Take a tour of the factory which produces 40,000 sheets of paper per day from scraps of cloth and get an insight into the world of mass paper production.
Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing
– The Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing is a small textile museum showcasing the history and tradition of local hand-block printing. Located in a beautifully restored 16th-century haveli or a traditional mansion, it makes an amazing side trip for families in Jaipur with kids. The children can even participate by creating original block print t-shirt or scarf and there is a small cafe which serves refreshing drinks (no food).
Elephant painting and safari
– Located in the foothills of the Aravallis is Dera Amer is a wilderness camp home located in the foothills of the Aravalli Hills. Housing well-kept and cared for elephants, Dera Amer is a children’s paradise. You can take a day off from the main tourist drag of Jaipur with kids and spend an enjoyable time feeding, bathing and going on an elephant safari. Painting the gentler pachyderms trunks with skin-friendly organic paints is also possible and upon request, a match of elephant polo can be arranged. The camp provides meals and dinner is served to the guests who have booked the elephant experience.
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