Walking tours is a perfect way to discover the city. Over the last few years, heritage and cultural walking tours have become extremely popular. Why so? There are a variety of walking tours in Jaipur, from heritage walking tours to cultural walking tours of the local markets. These Jaipur walks allow one to see things differently, an invaluable opportunity to witness life in Jaipur closely. In recent times, some tour operators are offering a free cultural walking tour in Jaipur. Are they really free? Most of these come with an expectation of a tip. So how can one do a free cultural walking tour in Jaipur?
A Guide To Free Cultural Walking Tour In Jaipur Old City
Having explored Jaipur considerably during the last few years, I have had the opportunity of leading heritage walks for academicians and students from across the world. I’m sharing a free heritage cultural walking tour of Jaipur’s local market which is self-guided and doesn’t require any guide. This is a cultural walk as it allows one to experience the local culture up close.
Free walking tours are common in Europe and replicated across other parts of the world, especially in notable tourist towns. After undertaking a couple of free and paid walking tours, I feel the term “free walking tour” is a misnomer. The guide at some point will notify you that it’s a tip-based walking tour and also disclose how much you should tip. In a way, the term “free” is a trap. If a guided walk is advertised as a free walking tour it should be free and not come with the expectation of tips. Sandeman’s New Europe Walking Tours clearly mentions tours are free and tips are complimentary. Sandeman’s walking tours are amazingly popular and highly recommended if you are visiting Europe.
Please note that it is impossible to provide entire details in one blog post. This heritage walk in Jaipur only provides a framework to explore on your own without the need for an expensive walking guide of the walled city area, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Therefore, in no way, this is an exhaustive guide for travelers rather it offers a synopsis of life in the Jaipur walled city and its built heritage. You can save the free walking tour on Google Maps located at the bottom of this post.
Jaipur Walking Tour Route
- New Gate
New Gate is one of the nine gates of Jaipur’s walled city area. This was the last gate to be built in the 1940s hence named New Gate. This gate was built to connect the new upcoming areas with the old walled city area. In comparison to other gates, this gate follows straight lines and draws inspiration from the gates built during those times.
Read more about Jaipur Gates in Old Gates of Jaipur
- Bapu Bazaar
From New Gate, take a right turn, and walk through the Bapu Bazaar towards Sanganeri Gate.
Bapu Bazaar remains a thriving market and is quite popular among travelers and tourists for shopping. This market is well known for the Sanganeri print fabrics – bed sheets, suits, jackets, and Mojari /Jutis. It is not one of the old Jaipur markets rather it was a fallout of the Indian independence and partition; the shops were made and allotted to the displaced Sindhi community from Pakistan.
Pro Tip: It is a good market to buy clothes, handmade local footwear -Mojadis and Chappals, and Sanganeri block-printed furnishings.
Read Jaipuri Jutis
- Sanganeri Gate
Sanganeri Gate is one of the most famous gates of Jaipur because it leads to Johari Bazaar, the most popular market for shopping in Jaipur.
Read more about Sanganeri Gate in the Old Gates of Jaipur
- Johari Bazaar
The beauty of Johari Bazaar, one of Jaipur’s old markets is its appeal among locals and travelers alike. The word “Johari” means jewelers. This is where the famous Jaipur jewelry is manufactured and sold. Jaipur is a well-known trading & manufacturing hub for colored stone jewelry as well as Kundan Meena, Polki, and Jadau Jewelry.
There are thousands of jewelry manufacturers and traders in the bylanes of Johari Bazaar. Apart from jewelry, there are many shops selling garments, handicrafts, artificial jewelry, dry fruits, masalas, and whatnot? This is the most diverse market in Jaipur. Johari Bazaar is one of the most popular places for wedding shopping, especially for jewelry and clothes.
To have a better look at Sanganeri Gate, take a right turn from Bapu Bazaar through the small gates and walk out to receive a glimpse of Sanganeri Gate in its full glory.
- Sanganeri Gate Hanuman Ji temple
Once done, retrace and walk through the gate back into the market, head straight towards the North direction until you discover a temple on your left – the Hanuman Ji temple of Sanganeri Gate.
As per legends, the temple is ancient; some claim it to be older than the city. It retains no signs of antiquity and is all modern in its construction. It enjoys a substantial following and Tuesday draws thousands of devotees. There’s another temple on the opposite side – Shree Roopchandrama Ji Temple. It has beautiful architecture and was commissioned by one of the queens of the court in the 18th century, Sadly, it doesn’t attract many devotees anymore.
From the temple walk towards the north until you find this gate on your right. Traverse the road towards the other side into the gate.
- Fruit and vegetable market in Johri Bazaar
A few more steps and you are in a local vegetable market of Johari Bazaar. Walk around to witness how vegetables have been sold for centuries. Supermarkets still haven’t been able to replace the way people buy fruits and vegetables in Jaipur much like many ancient cities across the world like Cairo or Fez.
The locals like to buy directly from the sellers and prefer to bargain and choose from a variety of sellers. If you are an explorer, strike up a conversation with one of the vendors, smile, and purchase something. Bananas, maybe? They are inexpensive in comparison to Europe, the USA, or even Singapore, and Hong Kong. A kilogram will cost USD 0.50!
- Johri Bazaar Shops
After exploring this market, walk out through the second exit which is devoid of a gate. Once you are out of this market, take a right turn towards the north and walk through the covered walkway in front of the shop facade. This walkway is designed to provide respite from the sun and rain for the shoppers. These sheltered walking paths were built during the reign of the last ruler of Jaipur- Sawai Man Singh II. Prior to this, the shop fronts had awnings made out of tarpaulins.
As you walk from the vegetable market, you will find a variety of shops selling food items that are a mainstay of the Indian kitchen like grains and spices. These shops have been selling in the same manner for the last three centuries.
Many changes have taken place, though. Previously the shop shutters were made of wooden doors but now the rolling metal shutters have replaced them.
You can find one in Johari Bazaar near shop number 79 on your left-hand side. Here is a picture for your reference.
There are a total of four lanes on your right side and four on your left. Jaipur is a planned city and all lanes intersect at a right angle. This walk covers the ones on your right side.
The first one is the KGB (Kundiger Bhairon Ji) Ka Rasta, followed by MSB (Moti Singh Bhomiyan) Ka Rasta, Ghee Walon Ka Rasta, and Haldion Ka Rasta.
Once you come across the third lane, Ghee Walon Ka Rasta, enter this street.
- Ghee Walon Ka Rasta
You will find many shops selling sweets and savories at the start of Ghee Walon Ka Rasta. These shops are extremely popular among the locals and worth trying a few offerings. You can also try a few Indian sweet delicacies like Malpua.
Sambhar Fini is an enormously popular shop to try local sweets – Ghevar and Fini.
Pro Tip: For travelers visiting from the western hemisphere eating street food may not be a good idea if your gut is not acclimatized. Delhi Belly can give you a tough time.
Keep walking in this lane until you come across this Jain temple at a crossing. The temple is one of the historic & prominent Jain temples of Jaipur belonging to the Shwetmber sect of Jainism. It is called Sri Suparasnath Bada Jain Temple and is incredibly charming.
Jain temples are noted for being incredibly ornate and beautiful. Here is a picture from another Jain temple in Jaipur.
Many old Jain temples have beautiful and detailed frescoes. The focus is not on the idol which is usually made out of white marble/sandstone but rather on the walls and ceiling.
Do note that the temples are religious places and not tourist attractions. Many temples do not permit non-followers due to strict religious practices. It is best not to enter the temple before seeking approval from the person in charge. Like all temples in India, dress and footwear codes need to be followed. Footwear and socks need to be removed; females should not wear short dresses.
Take note of the facades of old houses on this street. Traditional Rajasthani big mansions are called Havelis and are characterized by beautiful paintings and doors. Read Havelis in Jaipur
Not all houses and doors feature detailed and colorful paintings, some are simpler yet beautiful.
Take the left from this temple to proceed in the north direction. This market is called Dara Bazar and there are innumerable shops selling clothes and fabrics. It is a buzzing market. There’s another Jain temple belonging to the Digamber sect of Jainism on your right side. The Jain community in Jaipur is primarily engaged in trade and is noted for business acumen.
After walking a few meters, you will come across an intersection of the fourth lane- Haldion Ka Rasta. Turn left and walk towards the Johari Bazaar.
- Haldion Ka Rasta
This market was traditionally a market for jewelry. In recent times, many modern shops have come up selling a variety of items. In the old days, some of the noted Jaipur jewelers were based in Haldion Ka Rasta. There’s an old bullion exchange towards your right and is nonfunctional.
After reaching Johari Bazar, turn right and continue on the covered walkway. The shops on your right are primarily selling jewelry, garments, and Saris. You will find many street vendors selling junk jewelry and colored stones.
Continue towards Badi Chaupar, a big square with an intersection. Badi Chauper area is chaotic due to merging traffic.
- Jaipur Flower Market at Badi Chaupar
You will come across a flower market on your right at Badi Chaupar. Many refer to this as a Jaipur Flower Market. The flower vendors have been selling fresh flowers for many decades. There is a bigger flower market close by. Read Jaipur Flower Market. Many devotees buy flowers on way to their customary visit to the temple.
From Badi Chaupar it is easy to locate Hawa Mahal in the northwest direction. Walk towards Hawa Mahal.
- Hawa Mahal and Sirehdyodi Bazaar
The shops in front of Hawa Mahal cater to tourists with a variety of merchandise. Quite likely, you will be invited to inspect the goods sold in the shops by the staff. This is not the best place to buy good quality products.
Continue on the same road until you come across this building on your left which was previously a town hall. It is a defunct building and is out of use presently.
Cross over to the other side of the road and walk towards the north until you find this gate on your left called Sirehdyodi Gate. Turn left and walk through this gate.
- Sirehdyodi Gate
- City Palace Compound
Towards your left will be a few grain sellers and a pigeon feeding point. It’s a favorite spot among travelers to click pictures on Instagram or blogs.
Continue walking on the same road and walk through the Nakkarkhana Gate. We are walking towards the city palace compound and this is the first gate you will encounter.
- Nakkarkhana Gate
Soon, you will come across a large public square called Jaleb Chowk. Currently, it is a neglected space and many sections have fallen out due to disrepair.
- Jaleb Chowk in Jaipur City Palace Compound
From here turn right and walk through a gate towards the Govind Dev Ji Temple. You will find many devotees headed toward the temple. The temple is open throughout the day but the Darshan can only be done during the predesignated slots. Some slots are more popular and hence more crowded. The timings of the slots can be checked online on the portal of the temple – govinddevji.net.
- Govind Dev Ji Temple
As in any temple in India, you need to remove footwear before entering the temple; you will find a shoe stand on the right. Usually, a volunteer will ensure the safekeeping of the shoes; though tipping is not mandatory, it ensures a good service; Rs 10 is good enough. It is a historic temple and the rulers of Jaipur consider Govind Dev Ji as their Isht Devta
This walk ends here. You can retrace the same path by walking on the opposite side of the street to explore deeper.
Free Walking Tour Map of Jaipur Walled City
The walking tour in Jaipur covers the Walled City Area, a UNESCO World Heritage site. It was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status in July 2019. Here is a free walking tour map on google along with markers and pictures of the places You can save this Google map to your maps by clicking on the star near the share button.
How much time is required to complete this walking tour?
The estimated Time is 1.5-2 hours but you can always fine-tune it depending on your interests. Photography enthusiasts and people who love exploring cultures tend to take considerably longer. There are plenty of deviations that one can add to this itinerary to make it longer.
What to expect in this Walking Tour?
It is a good idea to understand what Glimpses from everyday life, beautiful heritage architecture, a busy bazaar scene, and a variety of smells and sounds!
Noted Vernacular Jaipur Architecture Features In The Walking Route
Here are a few not to be missed buildings built in the vernacular architectural style on the main street of Johari Bazaar during this walking tour in Jaipur.
Deori Ji Temple in Johari Bazaar
This is on the right side (East) of the bazaar
This is on the left side (West) of the bazaar
The murals and paintings on the exteriors are part of the restoration process; originally this wasn’t in this form and has been redone.
This is on the right side (East) of the bazaar
The traditional buildings have a different architecture in comparison to the modern ones. Some traditional facades still survive in Johari Bazaar. The walled city is undergoing a drastic change. Many old buildings are being razed down to be replaced by new construction. Often old exists in harmony with modern architecture.
LMB Sweets & Hotel
These are modern structures that have replaced the old facade. One of the most prominent is LMB sweets. Notice how this building’s architecture & color looks out of place.
Another example of how new construction cannot replace the old building can be seen in this picture.
Is Jaipur Walkable?
The walled city of Jaipur is one of the best places to walk in Jaipur because it offers a lot to see. It is certainly walkable considering short distances. However, do watch out for bikes and other traffic hazards; people generally don’t always observe universal traffic rules. Watch where you place your foot, the narrow streets in this old part of Jaipur, are not the cleanest places that you might have seen.
Is It Safe To Walk Around in Jaipur?
It is generally safe to walk in Jaipur through the route mentioned in this blog during the daytime. I always recommend people use their judgment when it comes to safety. If you have a feeling that it is unsafe to walk alone, don’t override! In such a case, it is better to go for a guided walking tour because the walk leader understands the locality and situation. When walking in the streets of Jaipur dress conservatively. The tourist attractions are generally safe, avoid venturing into an unknown area before checking with a reliable local source like your hotel.
History of Johari Bazaar
Johari Bazaar is one of the most popular bazaars in the old part of Jaipur and certainly the most historic. It is one of the originally planned bazaars of the pink city. Even though there are a variety of shops, the name indicates it was meant for the jewelry trade. One of the distinguishing features is the residential units in this bazaar were meant for the business community. It contains two of the nine planned blocks founded in 1727 AD.
The shops have a covered walkway meant to provide shade whereas the roof served as a viewing deck for the public. Historians claim that the colonnaded walkway was built during the reign of the last ruler of Jaipur. Many religious processions used to pass through Johari Bazaar. Shopping in Jaipur is incomplete without a visit to Johari Bazaar.
Self-Guided Walking Tours Vs Free Guided Walking Tours Vs Paid Walking Tours. Which one to take?
Is a self-guided walking tour better than a guided walking tour? Like everything else, a self-guided tour has its own limitations. For one, you need to be good at navigation. Despite a good well-marked map, many people are uncomfortable using one. Also, for people visiting quiet places, a buzzing Indian bazaar is a “sensory” attack. There’s so much noise, a variety of smells, overcrowded streets, and lastly, too many things happening all at once. This can be an overwhelming experience for some.
This is a reason why some people prefer to walk with a walk leader. It allows them to relax and just soak in the atmosphere rather than worry about navigation and traffic. An added bonus-the navigator also acts as a translator. For others, exploration is an adventure. They enjoy getting lost and finding something new which was not mentioned in their guide. Read more about a Guided Heritage walk in Jaipur.
Many people miss the conversation and exchange of ideas that come with a guided tour. It is likely that travelers will have many questions and self-guided walks have no opportunity for answers. Jaipur markets are buzzing and a self-guided walk is not a complete answer for the inquisitive ones.
There are many “hidden places in Jaipur” which cannot be explored with a self-guided walk. There’s so much to see and experience like this old Haveli in the walled city. The narratives and stories are best experienced with a walk leader. Love stories from the Jaipur walled city? Check out Sunday
Self-guided walks are best for people who love exploring at their own pace. Also, guided walks often operate at a pre-decided time, self-guided walking allows one to choose the most convenient time. It works very well with photographers and artists who need more time. Guided walks tend to rush through the route and often lead unsuspecting travelers into buying overpriced local merchandise. This is a common ploy employed by guides across the world. There are some variations as well, in some cases guides make a pitstop at an overpriced cafe/eaterie. Jaipur is no exception and this is true for even well-established walking tour operators who have been in this industry for many years. This practice needs to end. Read more about a Guided Heritage walk in Jaipur
What do you think? Do you have any experience with walking tours to share? Questions or comments on A Walking Tour in Jaipur? Reach out to me Jaipurthrumylens at Gmail com.
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