The song was written while Paul and Linda McCartney were holidaying in the Maldives.
Funnily enough the melody for this was written outside of India. I had a back-packing guitar, a little Martin travel guitar that is absolutely slimmed down to nothing and weighs sort of zero ounces. I had one of those that Linda had got me as a prezzie; and I took it when she and I went to the Maldives for a holiday. My particular back-packer – and I haven’t noticed this on other people’s – seems to have a bit of a sound on certain frets like a sitar, and because I was in the middle of the Indian Ocean, the two came together in that song. I didn’t have a title for the song, but when I went to India this year I took a train to Jaipur. It was a very exotic over-night train journey and I did some words that were in the same vein as that original melody. So those two things came together.
paulmccartney.com, November 2001
Aside from ‘Auraveda’ on The Fireman’s Rushes album, ‘Riding Into Jaipur’ is McCartney’s only song written in an Indian style.
‘Riding Into Jaipur’ was recorded at Henson Studios in Los Angeles on 16 February 2001, the same day that McCartney recorded ‘Lonely Road’ and ‘About You’, on the first day of the Driving Rain sessions.
Recorded 16th February 2001 onto 8-track analogue tape then loaded into Logic Audio for overdubs. Paul played Martin “Backpacker” acoustic guitar then overdubbed Hofner bass guitar and a vocal. Abe played Roland Handsonic with African drum samples. Rusty played tampura then overdubbed Gibson electric 12-string guitar. Gabe played piano. David overdubbed a synth.
McCartney never performed ‘Riding Into Jaipur’ live in concert.