Monday, March 14, 2011

Jaipur (Rajasthan) Part 1 - Amber

Amber lies 250 kilometres South West of Delhi and sits in a mountain pass just north of Jaipur with extensive town walls lining the pass around the small town.
There has been a fort here since the 11th Century with the current complex dating from the end of the 16th Century when it was constructed by Raja Man Singh. The fort-palace sits on the mountain side painted a honey yellow making it stand out against the red sandstone rock face and adding to it’s “dominating” effect in the narrow pass.

Visitors can save themselves from the long climb up to the palace by taking an elephant from the main road.
While it is highly recommended the gait of the elephant is such that on alternate strides it does feel like you may be about ro be thrown off the top – this is particularly disconcerting when you are overlooking the drop back down the mountain side!
In 2001 visitors were dropped off outside the palace grounds at the elephant gate amid a sea of hawkers, but in 2004 this had thankfully been changed and you are taken on into the outer courtyard of the palace which is relatively hawker free.

It was exceptionally busy when I was there in 2001 as the complex includes a Kali temple and there was a festival in progress that meant massive queues to enter the temple.
The palace is excellent with many of the buildings in good condition and with a number of magnificent views available.
The main access to the palace buildings from the courtyard is via the Ganesh Pole that leads into a large outer courtyard.

The “Glass Palace” has its roof inset with an intricate pattern of small mirrors which is reputedly spectacular in candlelight and many of the palace buildings still retain a very high standard of decoration. In 2001 it was possible to get all the doors and shutters closed to view the effect by torchlight but they weren’t doing this anymore in 2004.
The most spectacular building is the Rang Mahal which also acts as the main entrance from the courtyard to the palace complex.

The decoration around the doorway is particularly impressive.

The interior of the Diwan I Am is also excellent.

Your elephant will wait while you tour the palace but on both occasions I chose to walk back down, leaving by the “rear” route in 2001 and the front route to visit the gardens in 2004.

Jaigarh fort sits atop the mountain overlooking the Amber fort-palace.
This fort sprawls across the mountain top and on my visit there was a camel ride “option” to get around the grounds – I can’t say it is really worth the discomfort but getting on and off a camel is quite an experience!

The fort is home to the massive Jaivana cannon, cast in 1720 it weighs 50 tons.

The fort houses a small museum and a number of diorama illustrating life at the fort in the past. The residential part of the Jaigarh houses puppet theatre in addition to the “usual” buildings.

The position of the Fort naturally provides some great views of Amber sitting in the pass below it and of Jaipur in the plain beyond.

Especially for those in the UK more of the Amber Fort Palace and Jaigarh Fort can be seen in the Sharpe television series in “Sharpe’s Challenge”.

More on Jaigarh Fort:

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