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The capital of the romantic state of Rajasthan, this rose-hued city was founded by the Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II in the 18th century. Today, Jaipur is a busy urban hub as well as a centre for arts and an important market for Asia's gem trade (cue hot shopping!). Much remains of the Maharaja's legacy, in particular Jantar Mantar, the huge, whimsical outdoor observatory he had built. Within the old walled town, little seems to have changed: bazaars heave and traders ply their wares in much the same way as they did in centuries past.
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When to go
Jaipur puts its best foot forward between October and March, with sunny days and cool evenings. This period is also when the Rajasthan capital celebrates some of its most colourful and cerebral festivals. From April onwards, the mercury rises steadily, with May and June sweltering through temperatures upwards of 40°C. July and August bring the humid monsoon rains.
PlanesJaipur International Airport (www.aai.aero/allAirports/jaipur) is 10km from the city centre and is also the departure point for domestic destinations. Airlines servicing Jaipur include GoAir (www.goair.in), Jet Airways (www.jetairways.com), Kingfisher Airlines (www.flykingfisher.com), Spice Jet (www.spicejet.com) and Air India (www.airindia.in).
TrainsThe Jaipur Railway Station is centrally located and has excellent rail links with the rest of the country. The fastest train between Jaipur and Delhi is the daily Ajmer Shatabdi, which takes just over four hours. Visit: www.indianrail.gov.in for timetables and fares.
AutomobilesWhiz around the old city in a colourful three-wheeler (auto-rickshaw) or explore the lanes at a more leisurely pace by cycle rickshaw. If you're heading further afield, then hire a car with a driver who can dodge Jaipur's bumper-to-bumper traffic. Seek out the services of TWX (+91 11 4379 9700; www.travelworldexperiences.com), who can sort out flights and drivers for jaunts throughout India. Jaipur is 260 kilometres from Delhi but can take up to five or six hours by car.
TaxisTaxis are inexpensive and plentiful, auto rickshaws even more so. If you want to travel in relative comfort, hail a cab from a hotel, otherwise flag down one of the three-wheelers that roam Jaipur's roads.