Rajasthan in India has recently been elevated to the travel hot list and Jaipur is one of its most famed cities. The rich cultural fabric and history makes it an interesting educational experience for both young and old. Like all of India it is a sensory assault – but the sights and sounds of the “Pink City” will remain burnt in the memory long after the trip is over. Here is the suitcases&strollers travel advisor to doing Jaipur with kids.
Included on the Golden Triangle Indian tourist circuit (along with Delhi and Agra), Jaipur is a popular destination and a good introduction to India with kids. You could quite easily spend five to seven days here as there is a load to see and experience. While the main drawcards are the historic sites and architecture, shopping is also big business and the kids will love getting around by rickshaw and spotting pigs, cows, elephants and camels on the bustling streets.
Jaipur is a small snippet of what the rest of Rajasthan has to offer – a tapestry of long-standing religions, customs and cultural practises dating back over the centuries and a city that is unforgettable.
Amber Fort’s detailed floral stonework and mirrored walls are breathtaking. Perched atop a hill overlooking the city, it’s a brilliant place for older children to explore with its maze of stairs and courtyards. The walls are inlaid with precious stones and stunning latticed marble. For an added twist you can ride up to the Fort’s entrance via elephant, although the well-being of the animals is debatable. From here, the views are glorious.
On the world heritage list, Jantar Mantar is acollection of architectural astronomical instruments, built by Maharaja (King) Jai Singh II in the 1700s. For astrology lovers and older children learning about mathematics and science this can be a fascinating experience – for younger children the structures may be amusing as an oddly shaped playground. Try to go in the early morning or late afternoon as the midday heat can be stifling and there is not much shade available.
One of the prominent tourist attractions in Jaipur, Hawa Mahal "Palace of Winds", is a stunning building with 953 windows or jharokhas which are decorated with intricate designs. The main intention behind the construction of the Mahal was to provide the royal women (who were not allowed to appear in public) with a view of every day life through the windows. It’s fun for the kids to peek through all the tiny windows to the bustling street below.
For an insight into how the world’s mass production happens, head to Salims Paper, the largest paper factory in India. It’s really interesting for both adults and kids. You can do a tour of the factory and see how they produce 40,000 sheets of paper per day from fabric scraps.
Pottery, ceramics and, oddly enough, bed linen are some of the staple buys in Jaipur Sakshi is a block printing and blue pottery workshop. Here you can buy bedsheets, quilts, tiles and ceramics.
Kripal Kumbh is a showroom ina private home and a great place to buy top quality Jaipur blue pottery. Produced with lead-free glaze by Kumud and Manakshi Rathore, daughters of renowned potter and painter the late Kripal Singh, the pieces are stunning. Only buy what you can carry though. The pieces do not survive the postal services very well.
If you see a busy dhaba (roadside restaurants serving local cuisine) then chances are its safe to eat at. Most tourist restaurants and many hotels serve Western food such as spaghetti so the kids will never go hungry. Hotel C.M. Regency (Central Bus Stand, Station Rd., Jaipur, Rajasthan, India) is a great dhaba that serves endless thali (mixed dishes) for a mere 60 rupees!
But local food in India can be difficult if kids don’t like chilli and spices. You can always get boiled rice and chapatti or roti (local breads) but plain vegetables can be hard to find. (Even if you order plain steamed veg they are usually served with a sauce or spice on them.) Pack vitamin pills and soft pack puree vegetables for the kids to compensate for the lack of veggies. [For more tips on introducing kids to foreign foods, see the suitcases&strollers interview with celebrity chef Emmanuel Stroobant here.]
Water hygiene is a very serious concern in India, so do not consume any uncooked vegetables or fruit unless you have washed it in bottled water yourself. (Fruit that you can peel, such as bananas or pomegranates, is probably fine.)
Ultimately India is a very busy place. There are beggars at the more popular tourist sites and you will need to be generous with your sense of personal space. It is not the place to be pushing ungainly strollers or trying to hold on to toddlers who want to escape all the time. Even with older children it is essential that you keep a close eye on where they are at all times.
Hygiene is a problem in India but can be managed if you remain aware and vigilant. Take a small bottle of antibacterial hand wash with you. It can be easily purchased in Jaipur too.
India is a malaria zone. If taking anti-malarial medication start before you leave home to test for any side effects. Wear long or three quarter trousers and tops especially at dawn and dusk and pack mosquito nets and coils. Note that some anti-malarial medication is not safe for very young children and pregnant women. (For more information on preparing medications before travel, go to Travel Essentials: Medical FAQs.)
It is not safe to drink the water from the tap in India. Only use bottled water for drinking and be wary of children drinking water in the shower or the bath. It’s a good idea for kids to practice brushing their teeth with a bottle for a few weeks before the trip so they don’t use the taps by mistake.
[For more tips on visiting developing countries with kids, see the suitcases&strollers story here.]
Nestled within a beautiful garden, the charming Anuraag Villa provides a peaceful retreat from the dust and noise of Jaipur’s bustling streets. The service is impeccable and the garden is a jewel with beautiful resident peacocks. They cater good food for children and in the evenings there are sometimes puppet shows.
If you want to splash out and retreat from the outside world Tree of Life Resort & Spa is amazing. There are luxury garden villas, a butler on call and a much-needed infinity pool.
For more about travelling the Indian Golden Triangle, see the suitcases&strollers story Delhi. For more travel tips on things to do in India with kids, see the suitcases&strollers story Backwaters of Kerala.
By Samantha Docherty