India, being a country with a rich heritage and tradition, always attracts history enthusiasts. The long-buried history chants India’s wealthy values and morals. But to experience India’s history in close proximity, enthusiasts visit ancient monuments.
These monuments conserved optimally, provide an inside view into India’s history, rulers, and grandeur. One such monument is in the Pink City of Rajasthan, Jaipur. The Amber Fort, a massive palace in Jaipur, provides a sleek entrance into history’s best architectural designs. Let’s get some insights into this magnificent and alluring palace.
Amber Fort: An epitome of historical elegance
Amber Fort, also known as Amer Fort, is a majestic fort situated in Amber, Rajasthan. It is believed that Amber Fort got its name from the Ambikeshwar Temple, which is situated atop the Cheel ka Teela. Though Ambikashwara is a name given to the god Shiva, the local legend claims that the fort is named after Amba, the Mother Goddess Durga.
The Amber Fort was constructed by Raja Alan Singh Meena in 967 AD and was later controlled by the Kachawaha Rajputs. It is Jaipur’s main tourist attraction. Today, the Amber Fort is one of India’s most exquisite palaces, cradled on the top of the Aravali Hills. Not only this but it is also inducted into the UNESCO World Heritage Site list as part of the “Hill Forts of Rajasthan” along with five other forts.
This edifice palace is an architectural marvel with maze-like halls and serpentine staircases. The fort is beautifully built with pink and yellow sandstone. It overlooks the Maota Lake in the town of Amber, which used to be the capital of the old Jaipur princely state, with its vast ramparts, many doorways, and paved roads.
This massive fort covers a large area of land and needs two to three hours to dive deep into its grandeur. The fort receives over 5,000 visitors per day, including travel junkies, photoshoot enthusiasts, and history buffs.
How to Reach Amber Fort?
Once you reach Jaipur, it is not difficult to make it to the Amber Fort. There are various transport options available to visit the fort, too, at reasonable prices. One can board buses, taxis, and auto-rickshaws from any part of Jaipur to reach Amber Fort conveniently. The Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation also offers low-cost full and half-day city trips that include a visit to Amber Fort.
To enter the fort premises, visitors need to buy a ticket. The ticket booth is across from Suraj Pol in the Jaleb Chowk courtyard. Riding an elephant from the parking lot to Jaleb Chowk is also a popular way to reach the summit of Amber Fort. There is also the option of hiring an audio guide or an authorized tourist guide. One can also buy tickets online before visiting the fort to avoid counter hassles.
Amber Fort permits entry daily from 8 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. for visitors. You can either walk uphill, ride an elephant, take a jeep, or golf cart or drive your vehicle to the top entrance. But, during the tourist season, it is highly congested, and traffic delays become a concern for visitors.
Many visitors opt to stay for the evening sound and light show, night viewing, and meals at the fort. Depending on the season, the fort reopens and gets evocatively illuminated from 6:30 to 9:15 p.m. That makes the palace look breathtakingly beautiful and worth gazing at.
A famous sound and light display near Maota Lake, towards the bottom of the fort, showcases the history of Amber Fort to let visitors comprehend the rich heritage associated with Amber Fort. The shows are organized in English as well as in Hindi. The eatery options inside the fort are built with a magnificent regal ambiance.
The Anokhi Museum near Amber Fort is a must-see for people interested in traditional block printing. Workshops are also available to experience the art closely.
Inside the Amber Fort
The massive Amber Palace is divided into six distinct portions. Each of these six is guarded by its own entrance gates and courtyards. The Suraj Pol (Sun Gate), facing east, leads to the first central courtyard and is the primary entrance to the fort. This gate was built exclusively and is well guarded as the primary entrance to the palace. It is believed that royal cavalcades and nobles used this gate to enter the palace.
1. First Courtyard
Moving on, Jaleb Chowk is one of four courtyards built during Sawai Jai Singh’s reign (1693–1743 AD) at Amber Palace. The Maharaja’s bodyguards paraded here under the command of the army commander, or Fauj Bakshi. The Maharaja used to inspect the guard force. The guards lived in the upper-level quarters of the horse stables, which were adjacent to the courtyard.
The main palace grounds can be reached via a spectacular stairway from Jaleb Chowk. The Sila Devi temple is built to the right of the steps and is considered the place where the Rajput Maharajas worshiped. This ritual began with Maharaja Mansingh in the 16th century and ended in the 1980s when the animal sacrifice ritual was abolished.
The Ganesh Pol, or Ganesh Gate of the fort, is the entrance to the Maharajas’ private palaces. It is named after the Hindu deity Lord Ganesh. It’s a three-story edifice with rich frescoes built under Mirza Raja Jai Singh’s (1621–1627) directions.
Above this Ganesh gate is the Suhag Mandir. Royal women used to watch ceremonies in the Diwan-e-Aam through latticed marble windows known as “Jaalis” from here.
2. Temple of Sila Devi
The Sila Devi temple, located on the right side of the Jaleb Chowk, is a modest yet magnificent shrine. The temple has a double door entrance with raised relief covered in silver. Two silver lions inside the temple flank the primary deity.
Temple Sila Devi also chants an ancient story. According to mythology, Maharaja Man Singh sought Kali’s blessings for success in a fight against the Raja of Jessore in Bengal, which led to the establishment of this shrine.
The goddess told the Raja to retrieve her picture from the seabed and install and adore it in a dream. The Raja salvaged the idol from the sea after winning the Battle of Bengal in 1604 and put it in the temple, naming it Sila Devi because it was sculpted out of a single stone slab. A carving of Lord Ganesha made of a single piece of coral is also placed at the temple’s entrance.
3. Second Courtyard
The Diwan-i-Aam, or Public Audience Hall, is the magnificence of the second courtyard. This can be reached by ascending the main stairwell from the first-floor courtyard.
The Diwan-i-Aam is an elevated platform with 27 colonnades, each with an elephant-shaped capital and galleries above it, built with a double row of columns. As the name suggests, the Raja (king) held an audience here to hear and receive pleas from the populace.
4. Third courtyard
This third courtyard is yet another breathtakingly beautiful and historically significant area of the Amber fort. The third courtyard houses the Maharaja’s private rooms, as well as those of his family and attendants. The Ganesh Pol, or Ganesh Gate, leads to this courtyard, which is adorned with mosaics and sculptures.
The yard is divided by a garden styled after Mughal gardens, with two structures facing each other. The Jai Mandir, located to the left of the entrance gate, is a lavishly decorated structure with glass inlay panels and multi-mirrored ceilings. The mirrors are convex in shape and decorated with coloured foil and paint that shimmers brightly in candlelight.
Mirza Raja Jai Singh designed the garden that is maintained between the Jai Mandir on the east and the Sukh Niwas on the west. The Chahar Bagh, or Mughal Garden, is the inspiration for this astonishing and intricate design.
It is located in a hexagonal-shaped sunken bed. It is designed with marble-lined, tiny pathways that lead to a star-shaped pool with a fountain in the center.
6. Gate of Tripolia
The term “Tripoli gate” refers to three gates. It is the western entrance to the palace. It has three entrances: one to the Jaleb Chowk, one to the Man Singh Palace, and one to the Janana Deorhi to the south.
7. The Lion’s Gate
The Lion Entrance, the most crucial gate, was previously a guarded gate; it leads to the Palace’s private rooms and is named “Lion Gate” to imply strength. It was constructed during the reign of Sawai Jai Singh (1699–1743) and is painted with frescoes. Its zigzag alignment was most likely done for security reasons to fight invaders.
8. Fourth Courtyard
The Janana (Royal family women, including concubines or mistresses) dwelt in the fourth courtyard of this enormous fort. This courtyard has several dwelling rooms where the queens lived and were visited by the king at his leisure.
9. Man Singh I’s Palace
The Royal Residence of Man Singh I, the oldest corner of the Amber Palace, is located south of the fourth courtyard. The Palace was finished in 1599, under Raja Man Singh I (1589–1614), after a 25-year construction period, and is the most significant quarter of the entire fort.
Experience the royal history in Amber Fort
Amber Fort is a prime example of an Indian historical residence. Beautiful entrances, structures, sculptures, and other features illuminate the fort. The royal design exudes historical and traditional importance.
Being at Amber Fort and witnessing the regalness of the palace is like experiencing it firsthand. This place is worth a visit if you want to experience royalty, regalness, and the reign of a rich Indian history with maharajas and massive palaces.
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