Free walking tours? Many of us have heard about them during our travels. These are common in Europe and replicated across other parts of the world especially in notable tourist towns. After undertaking a couple of walking tours, I feel the term “free walking tour” is a misnomer. The guide at some point will notify 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.
I would like to mention Sandeman’s Walking Tours which emphasize that tours are free and tips are complimentary. Sandeman’s walking tours are amazingly popular and highly recommended if you are visiting Europe. In recent times, some tour operators are offering a free walking tour in Jaipur. Are they really free?
Having explored Jaipur considerably during the last few years, I have had the opportunity of leading heritage walks for the academicians and students from across the world. I would like sharing a free Heritage walking tour of Jaipur local market which is a self-guided and doesn’t require any guide. Please note that it is impossible to provide entire details in one blog post. This heritage walk only provides a framework to explore on your own without a 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 the life in the Jaipur walled city and its built heritage.
Here is a google map of the self-guided walking tour in Jaipur along with markers and pictures of the marked places. This walking tour covers the Walled City Area of Jaipur which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. You can save this Google map to your maps by clicking on star near the share button.
How much time is required to complete this free walking tour in Jaipur?
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 in this itinerary to make it longer.
What to expect in this Jaipur walking tour?
Glimpses from everyday life, beautiful heritage architecture, a busy bazaar scene, a variety of smells and sounds!
To know more about the person in the above picture, read Karamveer Chauhan
Starting Point: New Gate near Golcha Cinema
End Point: Govind Dev Ji Temple near Jaipur City Palace
New Gate is one of the 9 gates of Jaipur walled city area. This was the last gate to be built in the 1940s hence named New Gate. All other 8 gates were built in the early 1700s when the city was founded. Back then, only a narrow gate which allowed people to enter and leave the walled city area existed at the site. This gate was built to connect the new upcoming areas with the old walled city area. Some people also claim that this gate was built for the convenience of the previous Jaipur ruler – Maharajah Sawai Man Singh II. It allowed him fast access from the Jaipur City Palace to his new residence at Ram Bagh Palace. In comparison to other gates, this gate follows straight lines and draws inspiration from Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.
Read more about Jaipur Gates in Old Gates of Jaipur
From New Gate, take a right turn, walk through the Bapu Bazaar towards Sanganeri Gate.
Bapu Bazaar remains a thriving market and 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
At the end of the market towards the eastern direction is Sanganeri Gate.
Sanganeri Gate is one of the most famous gates of Jaipur because it precedes Johari Bazaar, the most desired place for shopping in Jaipur. The moment someone mentions Jaipur, the images of Johari Bazaar are first to pop up in the minds of travelers.
Read more about Sanganeri Gate in Old Gates of Jaipur
The beauty of Johari Bazaar is its appeal among the 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 and masalas, and what not? This is the most diverse market of Jaipur. Johari Bazaar is one of the most popular places for wedding shopping especially jewelry and clothes.
To have a better look of 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 North direction until you discover a temple on your left – 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. It is one of the forgotten heritage temples of Jaipur.
From 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 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!
Shops in Johri Bazaar
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 last ruling Maharajah of Jaipur- Sawai Man Singh II. Prior to this, the shop fronts had awnings made out of tarpaulins. You can refer to the vintage picture later in this post. All shops have unique numbers.
As you walk from the vegetable market, you will find a variety of shops selling food items that are a mainstay for 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. If you like to see old wooden shutters, you can still find a few in the bylanes of Johari Bazaar.
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 locals 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 on 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 rather on the walls and ceiling.
Do note that the temples religious sites and not tourist attractions. Some of them do not permit non-Jain. Seek prior permission before entering a temple from the person in charge. Like all temples in India, common dress and footwear codes need to be followed.
Take a note of the facades of old houses in this street. Traditional Rajasthani big mansions are called Havelis and are characterized by beautiful paintings and doors.
Not all houses and doors feature detailed and colorful paintings, some are simpler yet beautiful.
Take 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. Witness the hustle-bustle of a local market. There’s another important Jain temple belonging to Digamber sect of Jainism towards your right side. Jaipur has a large number of Jain population. The Jain community in Jaipur is primarily engaged in trade and are noted for business acumen.
After walking a few meters, you will come across an intersection of the fourth lane- Haldion Ka Rasta. Take a 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. A few are still present like Surana Jewellers of Jaipur.
There’s an old bullion exchange towards your right. It is nonfunctional but at some point in time, this was abuzz with activity and is linked with the history of Jaipur jewelry industry especially speculative trading.
After reaching Johari Bazar, take a right turn and continue on covered walkway. The shops on your right are primarily into 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 the ongoing metro project over the last few years.
Badi Chauper Flower Market
At Badi Chaupar you will find a flower market towards your right side. The vendors have been selling fresh flowers for many decades. This is the oldest flower market of Jaipur. Many devotees buy flowers here during their customary visit to the temple.
From Badi Chaupar it is straightforward to locate Hawa Mahal towards the north-west 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 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 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.
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 for 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.
Soon, you will come across a large public square called Jaleb Chowk. The word Jaleb is derived from Jalab, a Persian word. This place was meant to mobilize a large gathering especially army or a procession. 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 towards 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 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 any temple in India, you need to remove footwear before entering the temple; you will find a shoe stand towards 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.
This walk ends here. You can retrace the same path walking on the opposite side of the street to explore deeper.
Pro Tip: The best thing to do in Govind Dev Ji Temple is to sit back and enjoy the vibe and atmosphere. This temple is the most important temple in Jaipur attracting thousands of devotees every day!
A good idea will be to explore the Jaipur City Palace which is the same compound if you have spare time. Read more about City Palace in this guide – Jaipur City Palace Walk
Here are a few not to be missed buildings built in the vernacular architectural style in the main street of Johari Bazaar.
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 painting on the exteriors is part of the restoration process; it didn’t exist in its original form. The house is not owned by the Kothari family anymore and the building has undergone a massive change after it was sold.
This is on the right side (East) of the bazaar
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.
These are modern structures which have replaced the old facade. One of the most prominent is LMB sweets which came up post-1950s. Notice how LMB looks out of place vis a vis it’s surrounding buildings.
LMB Sweets & Hotel
This is on the left side (West) of the bazaar
Another example of how new construction cannot replace the old building can be seen in this picture.
There are many interesting buildings in the by-lanes of Johari Bazaar too especially in Ghee Walon Ka Rasta.
Important points before undertaking a self-guided heritage & cultural walk in Jaipur Bazaar.
- This walk can be undertaken at any time of the day.
- The Johari Bazaar market opens between 10-11 AM. If you arrive early you will find shopkeepers busy arranging their merchandise.
- The closing time of Johari Bazaar market is not fixed but varied from shop to shop. Generally, the shops close between 8-9 PM.
- The roadside vendors start working from 7-8.30 AM.
- Once the market activity starts the bylanes are chaotic and full of vehicular traffic.
- For those focused on buildings and architecture, a good time to take a heritage walk is around 7.30-8 AM.
- If the market buzz and chaotic streets are what you love, 11 AM or any time thereafter is a good time to start this walk.
- Watch out for scooters and motorcycles/bikes when walking in the bylanes. The narrow lanes have many contenders vying for the same space. Bikers are a big nuisance.
- Many travelers get intimidated with noise and the incessant honking of vehicle sound horns. If you prefer peace, I suggest you choose the morning hours – 8 AM.
- Expect litter on the street. These bylanes were meant for a different era, before the invention of plastic and consumerism. Unfortunately, people are not doing their bit in the cleaning process.
- Expect a variety of smell. Both good and not so good. This is a buzzing market and there are many workshops engaged in the making of food items in the by-lanes.
- There are many interesting and beautiful old Rajasthani Haveli style buildings in these by-lanes. It is easy to miss them.
History of Johari Bazaar
Johari Bazaar is one of the most popular bazaars of the old part of Jaipur. 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 was meant for the business community. It falls under Chowkri Modikhana, one 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. Many religious processions used to pass through Johari Bazaar. Travelers shopping 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 guided walking tours? Like everything else, a self-guided tour has its own limitation. For one, you need to be good at navigation. Despite a good well-marked map, many people are uncomfortable in using one. Also, for people visiting from quiet places, a buzzing Indian bazaar is a “sensory” attack. There’s so much noise, a variety of smell, over-crowded streets, and lastly, too many things happening all at once. This can be an overwhelming experience for some.
Some people prefer a guide which will allow 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.
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 walk 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 leads 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/eateries.
I personally prefer to go on a walking tour with a pre-decided fee. This takes away the dilemma of how much to tip? It saves me from the problem of paying too much or too little. Read more about a Guided Heritage walk in Jaipur
What do you think? Do you have any experience with walking tours to share? Question or comments on A Walking Tour in Jaipur? Reach out to me jaipurthrumylens at gmail com.
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