Th Amber Palace, sitting at the top of the gorge with the town of Amer at the bottom is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The last past of the journey from the bottom of the hill is taken on foot (after our ride up in jeeps), as it has been since the Palace was built. The two gates, one either side, lead into the main courtyard, once the scene of returning triumphant armies and their plunder. We entered through Chand Pol (the Moon Gate).
‘Amer was once known as Dhundar and was ruled by the Kachhwahas from the 11th to the 16th century, until the capital was moved from here to Jaipur. Raja Man Singh built this fort in 1592 AD and Raja Jai Sigh I expanded and renovated it later. While many such old structures have been either destroyed or replaced by other things, this fort has stood against all the tests of time and invasions.’ Jaipur The Pink City
The very first building on this hill were thought to date to the 960s when the Chanda clan of Meenas settled there. Underground tunnels connect Amer to the Amber Fort and to the Jaigarh Fort on the summit, but we walked up past the impressive imposing ramparts and walls that kept the palace safe, and into the vast sun drenched courtyard.
On our visit, the place was very busy as it was a Sunday, but thankfully we had arrived quite early so it hadn’t yet been overrun. Elephant rides were happening whilst security looked on. Fitting perhaps as the gate and stairway into the next section features artwork representing Ganesh, the elephant god. Moving up though the gate we reach a higher courtyard, Diwan-E-Aam (The Hall of Public Audience). Looking back over the first courtyard, there are stunning views Amer, of the surrounding countryside and the Amer Wall.
‘It’s not known precisely how long the wall is since best estimates indicate that only 50% of the wall remains. However, the Amer Wall is often referred to as the third-longest wall in the world. This ranks it behind Kumbhalgarh Fort (also in Rajasthan), and of course, the Great Wall of China.’ Weseektravel
The Diwan-E-Aam consists of 40 pillars made of sandstone and was built for audiences with with the maharajahs. The hall is divided in three parts and is built in red sandstone and plastered with white shell plaster which looks like white marble.
Moving through the imposing gate Ganesh Pol, we entered another courtyard, with a beautiful mirrored building on the left hand-side. Diwan-E-Khas (The Hall of Private Audience) is also known as Sheesh Mahal (Hall of Mirrors) or the Winter Palace as when the weather got cold, heavy drapes were hung around the open archways to insulate the rooms inside. The many mirrors surfaces made the most of the candlelight, creating a warm and comfortable space away from the winter cold. On the other side of the courtyard is…
‘The Sukh Mandir palace was kept cool in the summer by covering its arched openings with screens woven with the roots of the aromatic grass called khas. The screens were moistened periodically with water, air passing through the screens was thus cooled, and carried also the fragrance of the grass into the palace-chambers.’ The Pink City
The beautiful geometric ornamental garden with the lotus-shaped pool is called Char Bagh. We left the garden when a large swarm of bees arrived!
The next section of the Palace is the Zenana Mahal, home of the Maharajah’s wives. Each apartment is separate and has balconies looking into the courtyard. There is a private corridor that is unseen from the apartments so the king could visit his favourite wife without the others knowing. In the centre is the Baradari which was known to be the meeting hall for the queens, thought to be the oldest structure in the entire Amer Fort. We exited the fort through a beautiful courtyard which I guess is the backdoor!
Text and images © Jonathan Dredge
Aerial view of the Amber Palace
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