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Meet the Future of Women's Travel

Unearth Women is the first women's travel magazine on the international market. Find us in select bookstores or visit the Unearth Women store!

MEET THE WOMEN KEEPING THE KINGS’ TRADITION ALIVE

Apsara Bangles

Mother and daughter work to carefully heat and blow the lac into hollow balls, which they will fill with colorful powder. | Photo by Jenna Kunze

Mother and daughter work to carefully heat and blow the lac into hollow balls, which they will fill with colorful powder. | Photo by Jenna Kunze

Holi, the classic Indian festival where colorful powder is thrown to welcome spring and represent rebirth each March, comes with a historical twist in Jaipur. Instead of throwing the colored powder—or gulaal—as festival-goers do today, the royal family historically rode elephants in a procession while pelting the crowd with lac balls filled with colored powder, called gulaal gota. It was considered lucky to be hit by one of these balls.

“It’s not painful,” one of six sisters from one of the last remaining shops that make such balls said, placing the featherweight empty lac shell in my hand. On the bangle making street in Jaipur, there is a family of eight—seven of whom are women—that represent some of the last remaining crafters of the art. They make and sell gulaal gota every year before Holi, as they have for eight generations now. 

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TAKE A HOLY PILGRIMAGE

GALTAJI TEMPLE

Hindu women make offerings to the gods by pouring out holy water | Photo by Jenna Kunze

Hindu women make offerings to the gods by pouring out holy water | Photo by Jenna Kunze

The Galtaji Temple, colloquially known as the Monkey Temple for its home to bold langur monkeys, is a short drive or walk from the Pink City. Built into a hillside, Hindus from all across India come to bathe in the freshwater springs that flow from a rock shaped like a cow’s head, a holy animal in Hinduism.

The water, like that from the Ganges River, is believed to purify bathers of their sins. Colorful swathes of saris blur together at the pilgrimage site, where bathing pools are separated by gender and many women partially undress to step into the auspicious water, pour it over their heads, or pour it onto the ground in prayer.

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SEE HOW ROYAL WOMEN LIVED IN THE 1600S

Hawa Mahal

The Hawa Mahal, or the Wind Palace | Photo by Jenna Kunze

The Hawa Mahal, or the Wind Palace | Photo by Jenna Kunze

The honeycomb facade in downtown Jaipur emblemizes how the royal women lived throughout the 1600s: by seeing without being seen. Through 953 inconspicuously latticed windows, Hawa Mahal—also known as the Wind Palace—was constructed following the principle of “Purdah” where royal women were forbidden to be seen by strangers. The structure was built as an extension of the City Palace in 1799 by ruler Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh, so that ladies could observe the streets without showing themselves.

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ENJOY TRADITIONAL RAJASTHANI FOOD

CHOKHI DHANI VILLAGE

Rajasthani cuisine | © Avinash Bhat/Flickr

Rajasthani cuisine | © Avinash Bhat/Flickr

Rajasthani food, dress, and handicrafts are iconic throughout the subcontinent of India. At a restaurant about a 30-minute drive outside of Jaipur, visitors can see the three working in sync. Chokhi Dhani is more than a village, it’s a carnival. After paying $7 USD for an authentic, bottomless Rajasthani meal eaten cross-legged on the floor, visitors can peruse the surrounding village for entertainment. 

Outside the dining halls, there are camel rides, female dancers performing the Rajasthani ghoomar (a traditional folk dance), a bird astrologist, magic shows, a river ride, museums, and a local crafts shopping area. Chokhi Dhani Village is the Six Flags of Jaipur. You can even rent a room at the five-star Chokhi Dhani Resort on the premises.

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SUPPORT LOCAL WOMEN

ANOKHI CAFÉ

A worker block-prints in a factory outside of Jaipur | Photo by Jenna Kunze

A worker block-prints in a factory outside of Jaipur | Photo by Jenna Kunze

Anokhi Café is a sharp-cornered, well-lit spot on the outskirts of Jaipur that hosts a menu of locally-sourced food. Their options range from soups and salads to snacks and sandwiches, with dessert offerings and drip coffee, to boot. Attached to the cafe is the Anokhi’s store, that sells quality Rajasthani block-printed clothing and home goods handmade by locals. Jaipur is renowned for its hand-carved block-prints and the fabrics created by them. Anokhi is considered to be the high-end of the business for their company ethos. They use natural dyes (as opposed to prevalent chemical alternatives) and local labor, including women.

Pritam Singh, the owner of Anokhi brand, told the Hindu Business Line that part of the company’s mission includes employing village women, as jobs for Rajasthani females are limited. Visitors interested in learning more can visit the Anokhi Museum just outside of Jaipur in the smaller city of Amber. There, you can witness the carving, printing, and traditional garments made by locals, as well as try block-printing yourself.

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A Budget option for travelers

HOTEL PEARL PALACE

© Courtesy of Hotel Pearl Palace

© Courtesy of Hotel Pearl Palace

Hotel Pearl Palace offers budget dormitory and private rooms for reasonable rates and is centrally located 10 minutes from downtown Jaipur. Locally owned by Mr. and Mrs. Singh, the space is snazzily decorated with LED lights and local artwork. The best part? Their rooftop cafe, Peacock Restaurant, is acclaimed by locals as some of the best Indian and foreign fare, and it boasts a 360-degree view of the city. We recommend a ginger lemon honey chai while watching a live music performance. Rooms start at about $20 USD for a private double.

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A Luxury Stay with a Pool that's open to non-guests

Narain Niwas Palace

© Courtesy of Narain Niwas Palace Facebook Page

© Courtesy of Narain Niwas Palace Facebook Page

Narain Niwas served as a former royal family’s resort and is set in an Anglo-Indian style palace. Tucked behind their expansive gardens, and flanked by shade trees, the hotel's pool is open to non-guests from 8 am to 4 pm daily for $5 USD. Jaipur can be brutally hot in the spring and summer months, and this pool is a lovely and inexpensive way to cool off. Because it’s part of an upscale hotel, it’s a comfortable and safe place to swim without feeling ogled. Rooms run for less than $100 USD a night.

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