Uncovering the Modern Side of Jaipur: An Insider’s Guide

Rambagh Palace.
Rambagh Palace. Photo: Sara Hylton for The Wall Street Journal

IN MANY WAYS, Jaipur delivers on the clichéd fantasies first-timers to India have mentally replayed: flute players presiding over ornate courtyards, women in color-drenched saris, men in turbans. But lately, the Rajasthani capital has been dispelling cliche as a new hub of contemporary Indian arts and culture. The Jaipur Literature Festival draws half a million people each January, while February ushers in an international photography festival. The Jawahar Kala Kendra arts complex, a symphony of geometry by architect Charles Correa, just unveiled its renovation. A modern sculpture park, reopening in December, startles in the withering arches and courtyards of the 18th-century Nahargarh Fort. And Jaipur’s reputation as India’s shopping mecca is undiminished. We asked four expert locals to help navigate the way.

Discovering Modern Jaipur

The city offers a wealth of contemporary arts and culture, and its reputation as a shopping destination remains undiminished.

A view of Jaipur from Nahargarh Fort.
Sara Hylton for The Wall Street

The Royal

HH Maharajah Sawai Padmanabh

Singh of Jaipur

Martinis at the Rambagh Palace Polo Bar.
Martinis at the Rambagh Palace Polo Bar. Photo: Sara Hylton for The Wall Street Journal

FASHION FINDS / Raghavendra Rathore This Rajasthani brand has great fabrics and fabulous finishing for achkans and bandhgalas. Ghanerao House 5, Jacob Road, Civil Lines, iicfashion.com.

GLITTERING GIFTS / Amrapali and Gem Palace Jaipur’s two iconic jewelry institutions are fun to visit. They each have a distinct style and sell affordable gifts in addition to precious gems. Amrapali Jewels, Panch Batti, M.I. Road, Near Raj Mandir Cinema, amrapalijewels.com. Gem Palace, Shop No. 348, MI Road, gempalace.com.

HORSING AROUND / Rambagh Polo Grounds Especially during the polo season but mostly year-round, one can find either myself or others playing matches, practicing, or just doing stick-and-ball with the horses—especially in the morning or early evening, when it’s not so hot. Even during most matches, entry is free. Near Rambagh Circle, rajasthanpoloclub.co.in

The Jeweler

Siddharth Kasliwal

Partner and designer, the Gem Palace, and owner, 28 Kothi hotel

EAT LIKE A LOCAL / Laxmi Mishthan Bhandar, Pandit Kulfi Go to Laxmi Mishthan Bhandar in the old city to have samosas and dahi badas. Finish off with ice cream at Pandit Kulfi. Laxmi Mishthan Bhandar, Shop No. 98-99, Johari Bazar, lmbsweets.com. Pandit Kulfi, 110 Hawa Mahal Market.

A customer sorts through fragrant rose petals sold at the wholesale flower market, Phool Mandi.
A customer sorts through fragrant rose petals sold at the wholesale flower market, Phool Mandi. Photo: Sara Hylton for The Wall Street Journal

REFINED FLOWER / Phool Mandi Walk through this flower market. There are tons of flowers—marigolds, roses, frangipani—all local. All the flower sellers come there and the dealers gather and collect to take to different temples. Phool Mandi, Gangori Bazar, Janta Market, J.D.A. Market, Kanwar Nagar.

CHIC SHOP / Teatro Dhora Teatro Dhora is run by my friend, and it has fun jewelry and a cute cafe. It’s a store that a lot of foreigners living in Jaipur like for their dresses—it’s cool summer wear. 9 Yashwant Palace, Ajmer Road, dhoraindia.in

The Curator

Pooja Sood

Director General, Jawahar Kala Kendra

HOUSE OF WONDERS / Gyan Museum A private collection in a beautifully done space. It’s run by jewelers—the father was an art aficionado. From textiles to jewelry to knives to nutcrackers, it’s eclectic but beautifully displayed. G-1/21-23, Gems & Jewelry Zone Export Promotional Industrial Park, Sitapura Industrial Area, gyanjaipur.com

FAB FABRICS / Riddhi Siddhi If you’re into textiles you should go to Riddhi Siddhi. You can buy the best mulmul and muslins on rolls, kurtis for 900 rupees, fabulously hand-blocked bedspreads, garden umbrellas. 9 Govind Nagar (East), Amber Palace Road, riddhisiddhitextile.in

HEAVENLY HOTEL / Alsisar Haveli It’s tucked away in the city and the family still lives there. I love their food. I enjoyed their thal and their subzi and curry; it’s like home food. Sansarchandra Rd, Shri Ram Colony, Sindhi Camp, alsisar.com; doubles from 9,000 rupees a night

The Designer

Marie-Anne Oudejans

Fashion and interiors maven

SET A HIGH BAR / Rambagh Palace The bar is where I go to have a club sandwich and a drink. It’s wonderful to sit on the veranda and look outside to the garden. It’s completely timeless. Bhawani Singh Road, taj.tajhotels.com/en-in/taj-rambagh-palace-jaipur; doubles from £661 a night

Idli design boutique.
Idli design boutique. Photo: Sara Hylton for The Wall Street Journal

FRANCO-STYLE / Idli Thierry Journo is a good friend of mine, and he has a really beautiful store called Idli. He makes prints, a great home line, and menswear: Indian designs with a French twist. Hotel Narain Niwas Palace Hotel, Narain Singh Road, idlidesign.com

BLOOM YONDER / Brigitte Singh Brigitte Singh makes extraordinary block prints: bathrobes, linens, clothes for kids, shirts for men, traditional block prints inspired by Mughal flowers. You can take the finds to your Hamptons house and it’s perfect. Narad Ka Bagh, Amber, brigittesingh.com

Plus, Don’t Miss…
Bar Palladio.
Bar Palladio. Photo: Sara Hylton for The Wall Street Journal

Bar Palladio This beguiling bar on the grounds of the Narain Niwas Palace hotel has dramatic East-meets-West interiors by Marie-Anne Oudejans: think Italian-style murals nestled amid arches awash in electric shades of blue. Kanota Bagh, Narain Singh Road; bar-palladio.com / Rajmahal Palace A palace hotel for the 21st century, with art deco accents and quirky, bold wallpaper. Sardar Patel Marg, C Scheme, sujanluxury.com/raj-mahal, doubles from 41,000 rupees / Baradari A restaurant tucked away in the courtyard of the 300-year-old City Palace, with fusion fare far better than one expects from a museum restaurant—Royal Lal Maas, house-made pasta, apple jalebi with rose-petal ice cream. A great spot for a late-night drink as well. Jaleb Chowk, Near Gate No 2, City Palace, facebook.com/baradarijaipur

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