ANYONE looking for a little added culture on their first trip of the new year should consider the northern Indian city of Jaipur. While the cultural allure of this pink-bathed city can be tempting all year round, January sees the launch of the Jaipur Literature Festival, a literary extravaganza that draws appreciators of the written word from all four corners of the world.
Dubbed the “Greatest Literary Show on Earth,” this late-January festival sees some of the biggest names in the industry come to speak and share their wisdom. In the past, they’ve had headliners like Margaret Atwood, Steve McCurry, and Stephen Fry. And this year’s line-up doesn’t disappoint.
According to the event’s website, the festival “brings together a diverse mix of the world’s greatest writers, thinkers, humanitarians, politicians, business leaders, sports people and entertainers on one stage to champion the freedom to express and engage in thoughtful debate and dialogue.” In 2018, expect to see the likes of Amy Tan, Suki Kim, Yotam Ottolenghi, Helen Fielding, Rupi Kaur and even Hamid Karzai, the former president of Afghanistan.
The five-day program takes place against the backdrop of Rajasthan’s stunning capital of Jaipur. Also known as the Pink City, historic Jaipur is part of the Golden Triangle of India – Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur – and is known for the distinct color of its buildings. It is also the first planned city of India, dating back to 1727 when it was established by Jai Singh II, the Raja of Amber.
The city today is now a bustling metropolis but the Old City maintains some of its ancient charm and is home to some striking architecture. The most distinctive of which is the Hawa Mahal.
Literally the Palace of Winds, the Hawa Mahal was built in 1799 and is a delicately honeycombed structure that rises a dizzying five storeys. The top offers stunning views of the City Palace, located deep within the walled city.
Now a Unesco World Heritage Site, the Amber Palace is located just 11km outside of Jaipur and is well worth the trip out to the craggy hills surrounding the city. Constructed in 1592, as a strong, safe haven against attacking enemies, the palace is home to impressive décor that belies the harsh, imposing exterior.
The surrounding areas, as well as the inner city, are littered with palaces and forts leaving visitors little chance of getting bored.
Pair the greatest literary show on earth with the sights of Jaipur and you’ll be kicking off your 2018 in true style.