As Singapore’s Scoot Airlines this week adds a third route to India to its growing flight network, Australian travellers now have a quicker and easier path to a favourite destination in one of the world’s most fascinating countries. Scoot travellers originating in Sydney or Melbourne, for example, can leave Australia in the early afternoon and be in bed in Jaipur the same night, ready to start the next day fresh and rested.
Jaipur is famously known throughout the world as The Pink City, though terra cotta is the more predominant colour of the buildings except for the bright Raj Mandir cinema, one of India’s most beloved film palaces, whose candy-pink exterior is a sight in itself. Catching a Bollywood film here is an enjoyable experience even without understanding the dialogue. There are sessions throughout the day and, at a little over two dollars, ticket prices are extremely inexpensive. The money saved on movie tickets can be applied to a purchase at the glamorous Surana Jewellers down the road, where stunning pieces in classic Indian style are created to showcase the country’s beautiful gemstones and reputation for fine workmanship.
Palaces of other types abound around Jaipur; though a preponderance of small (and far from deluxe) hotels bravely call themselves Something Palace, making the word appear rather frequently around the city, the City Palace, one of Jaipur’s leading tourist attractions, is certainly very regal and worthy of a visit to see the splendid displays housed in the type of grand palace found in abundance throughout Rajasthan. The City Palace’s four galleries are housed in various wings of the complex; among the photography, painting, textile, weapons, and other historical items are two enormous sterling silver urns said to be the largest silver items in the world. The palace complex itself is impressive, with the Pritam Niwas Chowk courtyard and its four gates depicting the four seasons not to be missed.
Near the City Palace are Jaipur’s two other well-known sights, the Hawa Mahal (in English called Palace Of The Winds) and the Jantar Mantar, an extraordinary astronomical observatory in which the structures themselves are the scientific instruments used to study the stars. Those expecting a large palace will be surprised by the relatively small size of the Hawa Mahal; what is big is the exquisiteness of the construction. A short distance away is the gorgeous Albert Hall, formally known as the Central Museum. This Victorian-era creation recalls the days of grandeur for buildings built to be museums showcasing various cultures far and wide when the world was not connected by instant information. Inside the museum is a phantasmagoria of displays ranging from an Ancient Egyptian mummy to ceramic figures depicting traditional Indian professions.
Another of Jaipur’s attractions is Amber Fort, part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site collectively known as the Hill Forts Of Rajasthan. Located just to the north of the city, the massive fort and palace occupy a privileged location with wonderful views of the surrounding landscape, including the adjacent Moata Lake and other forts capping neighbouring hills. This is a popular destination for groups, so the best times to avoid the peak crowds are first thing in the morning or toward the late afternoon before closing time.
Scoot‘s thrice-weekly service between Singapore and Jaipur begins on 2 October. Travellers arriving with a printout of their pre-assigned visa obtained via the convenient e-Tourist Visa system in place for visitors to India since late 2014 will find their arrival procedure will be just as pleasant as the flight. Local tour operator India Heritage And Culture Tours can make arrangements for any type of local experience ranging from a general introductory visit to Jaipur’s main sights to more specific theme itineraries for those visitors with particular interests, which can be further explored on the India Tourism Office‘s Jaipur page.