Rajasthan’s state capital is a compelling blend of huge hillside forts, extravagant palaces, bustling bazaars, memorable heritage hotels and almost comically thronged streets.
Travel bucket list idea:
Jaipur, Rajasthan, India|
When Maharaja Jai Singh founded his new capital in the 1720s, its grid plan helped make it a commercial centre, too, with particular trades congregating in their own little enclaves.
In downtown Jaipur, stretching from Sanganeri Gate towards the Palace of the Winds, Johari is its principal gem and jewellery centre. For all its multifarious arts and crafts, the city is renowned above all for its jewellery industry and the arcaded shop-fronts that line the busy main thoroughfare are largely given over to it.
Filled with hole-in-the-wall workshops and industrious craftsmen perched on their haunches with braziers, burrs and sanding files, its side streets and lanes are even more interesting.
While you’re there
Those interested in Rajasthan’s jewellery culture might like to visit the private Amrapali Museum, whose comprehensive displays cover a range of styles and traditions. It’s around 1.5km west of Johari.
Getting there & doing it
In the city centre stretching south from the Palace of the Winds, Johari is easy to find and reach. It’s a particularly busy area, but the bazaar’s side alleys and lanes are considerably calmer and more atmospheric.
Johari is often included as a stop in Jaipur shopping or city tour itineraries (see recommendations below). However, it’s perfectly straightforward to visit the market independently and few artisans will mind curious tourists watching them at work. It’s worth bearing in mind that most shopkeepers have a set price for their products, and won’t barter.
All visitors should beware the age-old ‘Jaipur gem scam’ – typically involving being approached on the street with a so-called opportunity to profit from re-selling inexpensive gems bought here back home. Avoid unless you really know gems and the business.
When to do it
It’s open all year round, seven days a week. The weather is cooler between October and March, making shopping a more manageable experience.
The bazaar stays open until around 11pm, but the best time to visit is early evening, when some of the crowds have dispersed.
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