This is how ‘The Pink City’ Jaipur won our hearts with its warmth and hospitality!
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Travel can have a deep, positive impact on the impressionable mind of a child. It exposes kids to a variety of experiences and their sponge-like minds absorb it all.
Take my eight-year-old son Vivaan for example. He grew up listening to warrior stories from his grandmother such as that of Maharana Pratap Singh, the legendary Rajput warrior who fought against the mighty Mughals. At a rather young age, Vivaan was introduced to historical personalities, piquing his interest in history. He is a voracious reader and loves to explore places. So, just as we get him as many books to read as possible, we ensure that we take at least one family trip together every year.
When it comes to travel, he usually participates in the decision-making process by browsing through the brochures and asking questions about the different destinations. Last year, he took us all by surprise when he announced, ‘Mumma, this year let’s go to Jaipur.’ Honestly, I don’t know how he came up with Jaipur, but well, Jaipur it was!
“Why Jaipur?” I asked my son. He had done his homework.
A city steeped in history
Jaipur, also known as ‘the Pink City’, (more on its sobriquet later), can be easily identified as one of the most sought-after places by tourists worldwide.
The legend has it that Maharaja Ram Singh of Jaipur painted the entire city pink - the colour that symbolises hospitality - in 1876 when Prince of Wales was on a tour of India. Even today, Jaipur boasts this uniqueness with warmth, affection and hospitality towards its guests and that’s what even we experienced.
Totally charmed by the Pink City's welcoming people
Everyone in Jaipur seemed to be naturally welcoming. In one of the shops, when they got to know that it was my mother-in-law’s 70th birthday, they actually got a bunch of flowers for her and everyone clapped too. We were quite overwhelmed by that gesture.
Surprisingly, even Vivaan was quite observant of this. Throughout our stay in Jaipur, I could see that my child was learning important values such as courteousness and politeness from the people we came across.
I knew that it was a successful trip when a few days after our return, my parents came to stay with us and Vivaan did small things for them on his own, like making their bed in the night or giving them medicines, to mention a few. I am quite sure that he observed how caring the hotel staff at Jaipur was and imitated their hospitable behaviour.
Mesmerising land of great cultural history
We spent two days feeling and living this beautiful, historical city. I can never forget how at every restaurant the staff served us the traditional Rajasthani thali (consisting of around 15 side dishes, pickles and chutneys, etc), insisting that we try this or taste that and so on. However, listening to interesting legends and stories of the magnificent monuments was a bigger treat, not only for Vivaan but for all of us.
Through little Vivaan’s eyes, the famous sites in Jaipur turned into his living classroom.
Amer or Amber Fort looks even more magnificent in reality compared to the pictures we saw on the internet. The beautiful lake Maota adds to its beauty. We learned about the Hindu and Mughal architecture styles there. The construction of this place was started by Raja Man Singh in 1952. I really enjoyed racing up and down the steep slopes of this fort with my parents. The evening light and sound show narrated the magnificent history of Jaipur. We felt like we were taken back into the times of Rajas and Maharajas.
Chandra Mahal that has been a part of the City Palace is now converted into a historical museum and houses the various artefacts belonging to the rulers who lived here. We spent a long time there studying the artefacts belonging to the royal family. Another important building we saw was the Mubarak Mahal. Our guide told us that the architecture of the City Palace is based on Rajput, Mughal and European styles and he also taught us how to distinguish between them.
At Jantar Mantar, we learned about the geometric devices designed to measure time, track celestial bodies and study planetary orbits around the sun. It is an astronomical observatory built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II. It is amazing that even so many years ago people could learn about all these things.
Hawa Mahal is also known as the Palace of Winds. We saw this beautiful five-storeyed palace that has many latticed windows. Grandma told us that the royal ladies stayed here and got a glimpse of the outside world through these windows. She also told us that from the outside, the palace looks like the crown of Lord Krishna. When we took a picture of it, it really resembled a crown!
Albert Hall Museum
The huge Albert Hall museum reflects the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture. We got to know that Saracenic was a word used to describe Islamic architecture. The museum had many artefacts that we enjoyed studying. Here I learned a lot about metal art, arms and armour, sculptural art, pottery, miniature paintings, marble and clay art of Jaipur.
The meaning of Nahargarh is the abode of tigers. We did not get to see any tigers here, but grandma told us a few stories of Rajput kings who were as strong as a tiger. Our guide informed us that this fort was also extremely strong and it protected the fort of Amer from any attacks.
The world’s largest canon, Jaiban, is on display here. We got to learn more about different parts of the canon and how it works.
Jal Mahal is the most beautiful palace we saw during our trip. Our guide told us how it was built in the middle of the lake called Man Sagar. We were lucky to see and photograph a few birds that are commonly found there. The palace is built with red sandstone. From the palace we saw the surrounding hills of the Aravalli range and learned a little bit about Jaipur’s geography as well.
Jaipur is one of the most popular shopping destinations
Besides the magnificent palaces and lakes, Jaipur can also be called a shopper’s paradise! I am a lover of traditional clothing and accessories and Jaipur is famous for that. The Old City area is great for shopping apparel, jewellery and footwear. My son loved the Dhoti we bought for him and keeps wearing it at every possible occasion. I personally don’t use leather, but those who use it, Jaipur has a great variety of leather products.
Other than this, children can also enjoy the Elephant Festival that takes place in Jaipur around the festival of Holi in the month of March. Beautifully decorated elephants engage in the game of Polo and mesmerize the audiences. You can also participate in the Jaipur Literature Festival if your child loves reading and books. This will introduce your child to famous and well-known authors and their works.
Here are some tips if you plan to visit Jaipur:
- The best season to visit Jaipur is November to February (winter season in India). At times, it can get quite cold during the nights. However, basic warm clothing is sufficient.
- Jaipur is well-connected by roads, railway and air with an international airport. Within the city you can move around in cabs or metered auto rickshaws.
- If travelling with children, plan the trip well in advance so that your travel and accommodation bookings can be done in time.
- Usually 3 or 4 days are enough to explore all major sites in and around Jaipur.
- Local people mostly understand as well as speak Hindi and English.
- Holiday Inn®, Jaipur worked out for us and I would definitely recommend staying with them. The hotel is perfect for a family vacation.
Finding a kid-friendly hotel in Jaipur
We don’t have anyone in Jaipur, not even friends. So, after a little bit of online research, we zeroed in on Holiday Inn® Jaipur City Center for our stay as it seemed to accommodate our extended family’s various needs. It is also centrally located and at a few minutes drive from the railway station, bus stand and airport. Major tourist attractions such as Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantar, Amer Fort, Nahargarh Fort, City Palace, Jal Mahal and Albert Hall are easily reachable from the hotel site.
At Holiday Inn® Jaipur City Center, children can engage in various activities. There is a special play area where they can enjoy some playtime or older kids can try their hand at baking cupcakes as a Junior Chef. If your kids are movie buffs, you can also watch a family or kids’ movie here.
Jaipur is a must-visit destination in India that can give you a glimpse into the vast cultural heritage and antiquity of the province. As they say in Rajasthan, ‘Padhaaro mhaare des’ (welcome to my land...), the local people actually make you feel at home with their hospitality and cordiality. So much so, that I would love to revisit this beautiful city someday.
This article was brought to you by Holiday Inn®. Plan your next family adventure with travel tips at www.LittleBigTravellers.com. At 1,200 Holiday Inn® Hotels and Holiday Inn Resorts®, kids 12 and under stay and eat for free. Discover the Joy of Travel with Holiday Inn® today.