I was speechless at the sheer opulence of the place! The huge courtyard, the majestic gates and the Sheesh Mahal, all made me moon-eyed about the place. But you may say, that I have always loved these ancient structures made of stones, marbles and sandstones! Yes, I was in the Amer Fort or Amber Fort in Jaipur. We were there for a day only and the first place that came to my mind was Amer Fort. You cannot really leave Jaipur without seeing it!
It was a bright and chirpy winter morning when we visited the fort. We wanted to see the fort first, so did not stop on our way to see the beautiful Jal Mahal. Anyways, I was more excited to see the fort. As we crossed the Aravalli hillocks, the first glimpse of the fort was just before me. And I knew that I would definitely fall in love with this place just as I did at Chittaurgarh. And we have very less time to explore the entire fort. The Amer Fort is a UNESCO Heritage Site and even in the morning, the place was quite full of tourists. You usually need a guide to explore the place, but I had a friend with me who, I think served a better guide to me.
- 1 A Brief History of the Amer Fort
- 2 Things to see at Amer Fort
- 3 How to Reach Amer Fort?
- 4 Visiting Hours of Amer Fort:
- 5 Amer Fort Travel Tips
- 6 A few more pictures of the majestic Amer Fort
A Brief History of the Amer Fort
Amer is located at a distance of 11 km from Jaipur city. The place was the settlement of the Meenas, a tribal community of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh since 967 CE. Later Raja Man Singh I became the ruler of Amer and started rebuilding the fort. Raja Man Singh was one of the Navratnas in the Mughal emperor Akbar’s court. The work was carried on by his descendants and completed by Sawai Jai Singh, who later built the Jaipur city. The Amer Fort has been an opulent residence for the Rajput Maharajas and their families for long. The fort is known for its exquisite Hindu style elements but also has an amalgamation of Hindu and Muslim styles.
Things to see at Amer Fort
The stunning fort consists of an exquisite royal palace, bastions, huge courtyards, multiple gates and cobbled pathways. Known for its architecture, intricate carvings, mirror and stone work on the walls and ceilings, the place is actually a visual delight. The fort is divided into four main parts each having its own gate and courtyard.
Suraj Pol is the first gate and the main entrance to the fort. The gate faces the east and thus witnesses the first rays of sun every day. Hence the gate was aptly named Sural Pol or Sun Gate. The gate leads to the courtyard called Jaleb Chowk. In the earlier times, this courtyard was the place where the victorious returning armies would display their war spoils. The courtyard bears the testimony of so many war outcomes – of joys and sorrows!
The front courtyard of the fort complex is adorned with the splendid, pillared hall of the Diwan-i-Am, and the two-tiered painted gateway, Ganesh Pol.
Ganesh Pol is the main gate to the palace and is indeed a sight to behold. A majestic and well-adorned gate, it has beautiful carvings and paintings done in natural colour. The natural colours extracted from vegetables, flowers, spices and stones. Most of the Rajasthani paintings are made using natural colours.
The gate has a painting of Lord Ganesh as well. Lord Ganesh is the Hindu God who is known to bless new starts. And so the gate was named such. The King, along with his royal forces, entered the palace from this gate, when they returned from a battle celebrating their victory. There are small windows right above the gate. They are known as Suhag Mandir. The royal ladies would watch the heroics of the menfolk from these windows as they were not allowed to appear in public.
The Temple of Sila Devi
From the Jaleb Chowk, there is a flight of stairs that took us to the entrance of the Sila Devi temple. Shila Devi temple is dedicated to the worship of Shakti. It is said that the King always used to offer his prayers to the Devi before moving out for a battle or any other business. Human sacrifices were also offered at the temple. The door of the temple is made of intricately designed silver.
This is the common Assembly place of the palace. It is a raised platform in the center of the courtyard; a place where the king would meet this subjects and listen to their problems. The galleries have a double row of columns, each having a capital in the shape of elephants on the top.
This is one of the magnificent structures in the third courtyard. The beautiful structure consists of the Diwan-i-Khas or Hall of Private Audience and the Sheesh Mahal. The upper part of Diwan-i-Khas is known as the Jas Mandir and is full of intricate floral designs with glasses in them. It was built by Raja Jai Singh and so is also called the Jai Mandir. It served as the private chamber of the king where he would hold his private meetings. The king met his special guests like envoys from other rulers here. The interiors are full of mirror and glass work and this hall is connected with the Sheesh Mahal. Surely, the king knew how to impress his visitors!
The most interesting thing here is the Magic Flower. The flower is so carved that you can see 7 different pictures by covering various parts of the flowers. A fishtail, lotus, hooded cobra, elephant trunk, lion’s tail, a cob of corn, and scorpion, each one of which is visible only from a special angle.
There is a garden in front of the Diwan-i-khas led in the Mughal architectural style. It was called the Aram Bagh or Chahar Bagh. Like many of the Mughal architectures, the water that flowed in the garden was used to cool the surroundings.
This is the most interesting and majestic part of the Amer Fort. The room is made entirely of small bits and pieces of glass forming beautiful designs. It is said, that only 2 candles are enough to illuminate the whole room even in the darkest of the night through the infinite reflections created in the glass pieces. The reflection converts that small light into thousands of stars.
The epic movie Mughal-e-Azam definitely took inspiration from the Sheesh Mahal.
Just opposite Dewan-e-Khas is the Sukh Niwas or the Palace of Pleasure. This place was the King’s private apartments where he retired to rest.
Kesar Kyari is a unique Saffron garden on the Maota Lake, the lake that we saw while entering the Amer Fort. It is the royal garden where saffron cultivation was done.
Baradari at Man Singh Palace
Towards the southern region of this courtyard, lies the famous palace built by Raja Man Singh I. This is the oldest structure in the entire fort as it stands today. There is a pavilion in the middle of the courtyard surrounded by living quarters.
There is a saying that the king had 12 wives, each from different zodiac signs. And so there are 12 rooms on all sides of Baradari. Whether this is true or not is left to speculation!
This is the ladies’ quarters and it is a world of its own. Men from outside the family had no access to these parts of the palace. Even, the men from the palace had limited access here. It is said that rooms of the queens were connected through a private passage to the room of the king. The private passage could be used only by the King. So when the king visited one Queen, the others would probably not know.
From here, there is an exit route that brought us back to the main courtyard. Just before the exit, we saw a huge vessel. This is supposedly that vessel that was used in the film Jodha Akbar.
How to Reach Amer Fort?
The magnificent pink and yellow sandstone fort is located at the top of a hillock at Amer, 11 km from Jaipur city in front of the serene façade of the Maota Lake. Jaipur is the capital city of Rajasthan and is well connected from all the major cities of India by flight, trains and road. Amer fort is situated 12 km from Jaipur main city. You can get taxis, several buses and government buses to visit Amer Fort.
Visiting Hours of Amer Fort:
8 AM to 6 PM
Indian: INR 25, For students: INR 10
Foreigner: INR 200, For students: INR 100
Light and Sound Show Timings & Fees:
In English: 7:30 PM, Entry Fee: INR 200
In Hindi: 8:00 PM, Entry Fee: INR 100
Amer Fort Travel Tips
The Amer Fort is a huge complex. The meager time we had in hand was not at all sufficient to explore the whole place. I personally feel that this is one place where one should come back again and again. Nevertheless, here are a few tips that can make your trip to Amer Fort easy.
- You need at least 2 – 3 hours to see Amer Fort.
- Wear comfortable clothes and flat shoes as a lot of walking is involved. Also, I recommend carrying sunglasses and hats, as there is a lot of walking is involved under the sun in open courtyards.
- Carry water with you, as there is hardly any provision of water inside the fort. Water is however found in the refreshment area.
- Try to visit in the morning, as soon as the fort opens. The Siladevi Temple closes after 12 PM. Also, the place tends to get crowded as the day goes by.
- There is an option to ride an elephant from the foothills till the fort entrance, though I personally do not endorse this option to enter the fort. It is available till 12 PM. Cost for elephant ride for 2 persons is INR 900.
- There is a light and sound show in the evening. If interested, plan your visit in the afternoon.
- There is Anokhi Hand printing Museum near the fort. The Museum remains closed on Mondays.
- Take the help of a guide to see the places and listen to the stories. Audio Guide is also available.
- You can also take an Amer Fort Heritage Water Walks and get to know about the water system during those days.
A few more pictures of the majestic Amer Fort
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