Visiting Jaipur with your family? Jaipur is a fantastic city for architecture, history and culture sightseeing. Exploring the Hawa Mahal, the City Palace and the “pink” walls of the old city are must-do items for adult travellers. But Jaipur can also be a fun family destination, if you use a little creativity when planning your itinerary. Here are six fun activities your children will enjoy while you explore the Pink City.
Seek Out the Monkey Temple
When you stay in Jaipur, let the little ones come with you to Galtaji, also known as the Monkey Temple. Located about 10 kilometres from Jaipur and on the road to Agra, Galtaji is a sacred site that combines fun, tourism and spirituality. The main focus is the precious water collected in kunds. Because of the surrounding arid landscape, water is an important feature of the temple. Pilgrims may bathe there, visit the shrines of Rishi Galav and Hanuman, and observe the hundreds of monkeys who congregate at this special place. Mainly rhesus macaques, these wily monkeys entertain tourists in hope of a snack. Visitors should be careful that they don’t tease the monkeys with food — the National Geographic Channel featured these primates on its show “Rebel Monkeys.”
Indulge in a Camel Safari
The ships of the desert may have seen their role as a transport vehicle taken over by aeroplanes and lorries, but they still make for a fun ride for children — and adults. Let your imaginations drift to the past as you and your children indulge in a camel safari in the deserts of Rajasthan, near Jaipur. For day-trippers, a short ride can be arranged. If you’re adventurous, maximise your family bonding with a several-day trek. If you do an overnight journey, make sure your children are mentally prepared for it and bring warm clothing for the potentially cold night ahead. Of course, the best time of year to travel in the desert is between November and March, when daytime temperatures are mild. Thus, plan accordingly.
Explore the Jantar Mantar
Perfect for science-minded children and teenagers, the Jantar Mantar is Maharaja Jai Singh II’s collection of instruments for astronomy. Basically an observatory, this is only one of the five such sites the Maharaja commanded to be built during his reign in the mid-1700s. The Jaipur Jantar Mantar is the country’s best preserved and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Inside the observatory, visitors can explore 14 huge stone devices for tracking time and the heavenly bodies, among other inventions. Even though these are hundreds of years old, they still function. For example, the sundial is still accurate to Jaipur time, within a few seconds.
Take an Elephant Ride at Amber Fort
Amber Fort was built for defence. It sits high on the slopes of a hill, between two valleys about 11 kilometres from Jaipur. Its position gives visitors a great view to contemplate, but it also provides a nice excuse for an elephant ride. Instead of having your family trudge up the steep slopes to the fort’s gate, ride in style on the back of a painted pachyderm. If you want the truly breath-taking view farther up the hill at Jaigarh Fort, you’ll have to walk or drive your own car.
Visit the Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing
Museums can be trying for younger children, but this museum of hand-block printing is a unique excursion that might catch your children’s fancy. It’s near the Amber Fort, so it’s easy to combine the two in one convenient daytrip from Jaipur. Inside a historical haveli, the museum shows how local artisans traditionally make hand-printed cloths using natural dyes, hand-made blocks and personal stories. Even if your children aren’t interested in the printing, if this is your only chance to go inside a haveli on this trip, you should take it.
What child doesn’t like sweets? The whole family will enjoy trying mishri-mawa in Jaipur. The Pink City has many delicious places to try this sweet Rajasthani favourite. Made of reduced milk with pistachios or almonds, this sweet is available in many places throughout town. If you can’t get enough of it while staying in Jaipur, it packs well and is an excellent souvenir for friends and family at home.