Why is jaipur known as the pink city - cause all houses there are colored pink. I had the opportunity of visiting jaipur this on 7th & 8th of this month (March 2009). We started early from New Delhi (Indirapuram to be specific) - around 6 am. We had thought that we will start at 5 but we got delayed. If we had started earlier, we might have got lesser traffic and lesser trucks.
The NH8 passing through gurgaon is great. It is a very smooth road and very wide. You can easily drive at 150 kmph. The only problem is that there are two-wheelers (which are not allowed - but in india who cares). And they drive at the middle of the highway at 40kmph. So, you got to be careful of them.
We had breakfast at The jungle Babble at Dharuhera. The breakfast was terrible. It used to be a nice resturant earlier, but now it seems that it has lost its charm. There are around 4 toll gates between delhi and jaipur and tons of slow moving trucks. Lots of impatient people driving their wagonrs at 120 kmph.
We reached jaipur at 12 pm. The jaipur city is a very small and crowded city. Very confusing - if you are there for the first time. You will find it very difficult to drive if you have a long car. Majority of the people are in rickshaws and in cycles. And the city was hot.
It took us an hour to find our hotel Umaid Bhawan- which we had reserved from yatra.com. It is a very small and nice hotel. We found it to be worth our money. The food was costly - as we had expected. But the rooms were very nice. It is worth a visit - for low budget accommodation. It is in a residential colony and is very quiet.
It is advisable to get a taxi/cab for moving around jaipur. If you drive your own car, you are bound to get lost and fined by the cops who are always on the lookout for non-local people for their "under table" income. But again dont get a cab from the hotel. Do some research and have some contact of cab drivers before going to jaipur. A cab from the hotel would cost you twice the original rate. We did the mistake of getting a cab from the hotel itself and we got an ambassador - whose top speed was 40 kmph. We drove in style.
The best shopping place in jaipur is near the hawa mahal. But that market is very costly. If you cross the crossroad near to the hawa mahal and go to markets behind the front shops, you would land in the whole sale market of cloth and other stuff. Get your stuff from there. It is cheap and nice.
The only things of historical importance/worship places worth looking in jaipur is "birla temple", "hawa mahal", "jal mahal" and "amber fort". Amber fort is huge. If you cannot climb to the top of the fort, you can take your car up to a parking place behind the fort and enter the fort from there. You can also hire an elephant to take you up. But it is better to go by foot and enjoy the view. There are lots of restoration work going on in amber fort. But the fort is huge and really worth looking. Dont forget the visit the underground surang near the exit from the fort.
Another place worth visiting is the "chowki dhani". You might have heard a lot about it. Jaipur without chowki dhani is half the trip. Well, chwoki dhani is around 20 kms from the main city - it is outside the main city. Better take a cab, because parking is a major problem. It is a type of village mela in the night with beautiful lighting and lots of village stuff like elephant ride, boat ride, camel ride, astrology, magicians, dances, puppet shows etc etc. The entry fee is 300/- per person which includes the diner. There are lots of stalls for eating chat/gol-gappa and they charge 10-20 rs. Rides also charge the same. There are some huts where you can sit and feel the atmosphere of a village hut. Enjoy the food cooked on the fire inside the hut - village style.
Diner is all veg but there are two options. Either you sit down on the ground and have it village style. Or you sit on a chair and have it. It is better if you go for the later option. Sitting down on the ground is something that we indians used to do long time ago. If you are not in the habit of sitting on the floor for long duration, you might find it tiring and uncomfortable. You might not be able to enjoy their food if you sit down. Better sit on table-chair system and enjoy the food.
Chowki dhani is also a resort and offers stay. But it is preferable that you do not stay there cause, then, going and coming from city would be a pain. And secondly their service is not that of a 5 star (though they claim that they are a 5 star).
While returning you should be leaving jaipur by 12 pm. That ways you would avoid the evening rush and traffic jams. We got stuck in a traffic jam near behror and it cost us an hour to get out of it. Better leave at 12 and have lunch on the way and reach delhi by 5 or 6 pm.