When I first heard of Jaipur, the pink city of palaces, I envisioned a beautiful place of romance and candyfloss-coloured streets. The city is indeed beautiful, but Jaipur is far from sweet.
Go to Jaipur. Go for the colossal forts of Tiger and Amber, where you can wander uninterrupted through endless courtyards, and climb rooftops to gaze awestruck over the hubbub of this massive city. Go for the Royal Palace, adorned with glittering peacocks, and the intricate lattice and coloured glass of the Palace of the Winds. Go for the astrological observatory, where towering structures of yellow stone can accurately measure the time to a quarter of a second using only sun and shadows. Go for the Monkey Palace, where the inquisitive and occasionally aggressive primates clamber over spindly, delicate old Hindu temples and red-robed priests promise to grant all your wishes via meditation, threaded bracelets and a substantial “donation”.
Like candyfloss, too much of Jaipur can be sickening. This city can drive you crazy; this city of crowds and traffic, of cars and chanting and clanging church bells, of horns and hassling and haggling and hubbub and noise, noise, noise.
But still, go to Jaipur.
Go to Jaipur for the teaming bazaars of silk saris and gem-encrusted slipper shoes. Go for the wonderful bargain hotel of Sundar Palace, resplendent with peacock panelling, and its beautiful rooftop garden, where fairy lights encircle punters laughing over mouthwatering vegetarian food. Go for the enchanting Pearl Palace garden restaurant, where they wrap you in warm blankets and feed you hot brownies to fight off the night chill. Go to Jaipur to get your palm read, and be told of your future riches, loves and happiness. Go to clamber up slender white minaret towers, go for the faded pink walls decorated for an English king, go for the steep mountain climb in a struggling tuk tuk and the spectacular view at the top.
Go to Jaipur.