Don't Miss in Jaipur
Jantar Mantar: Dating back to 1734, this outdoor observatory combines scientific astronomy with superstitious astrology, which is still commonly practiced in India today. The array of large stone instruments built to measure latitude and longitude, as well as time and the position of the planets, includes the world's largest sundial. The observatory has UNESCO World Heritage Site status and it's a joy to visit, whether you're a science geek or not. (Gangori Bazaar, J.D.A. Market, Kanwar Nagar)
City Palace: The Kachwaha family may no longer be rulers in fact, but the royal family does still live in Jaipur and keeps rooms on the grounds. There are several sections of the palace of interest, including a textile museum (where you can see the elaborate robes worn by past Maharajas), an armory that has gorgeous painted ceilings and the salmon-pink Hall of Private Audience, where the royal family entertained heads of state. (+91-141-408-8888/55; open10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.)
Amber Fort: The original home of the Kachwaha clan lies about 7 miles north of modern-day Jaipur and served as the area's capital from 1037 to 1727. The location makes the fort worth the trip; set high on a hill, the complex provides stunning views of the surrounding desert countryside. Some river cruise lines add an elephant ride as part of their visit here, while others discourage the practice. (Devisinghpura, Amer; +91-141-253-0293; open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.)
Shopping: Jaipur has been a textile hub for centuries, and you'll see it on the streets in the form of colorful pashminas, scarves, saris, wall hangings and carpets. In particular, look for materials made with block prints, as well as tie dyes. Jaipur is also known for its emeralds and if you're looking for a special occasion bauble, high-end stores are available. Haggling is the name of the game and in India, you should drive a hard bargain; vendors often start 70 percent higher than where they'll end.