Rajasthan was a long awaited trip. There are two things to see in Rajasthan – its desert and its magnificent forts. I was on a 5 day trip to Rajasthan which included Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur and Ajmer; so basically I was covering the royal part of Rajasthan. We were four people; let’s start by introducing all through this picture:
The first city we covered was Jaipur which is the present capital of Rajasthan and has a popular epithet – “The Pink City”. Jaipur earned this sobriquet after Maharaja Ram Singh painted the entire city with pink colour as a welcome gesture for the Prince of Wales and Queen Victoria who visited Jaipur in 1876.
After reaching in Jaipur the previous evening, we started our exploration of Jaipur around 8:30 AM. The next day itself we were leaving for Jodhpur, so we had just one day to explore Jaipur.. Very less time but you can still get by with some ingenious planning.. We covered Amer Fort, Jaigarh Fort, Jal Mahal, City Palace and the Hawa Mahal before culminating our day in the Chokhi Dhani cultural resort. We hired a cab for the day and the driver was an informative guy who knew a lot about the forts and legends associated with them.
This post is dedicated to the 1st part of our Jaipur exploration in which we covered Amer Fort and Jaigarh Fort with a brief halt at the banks of Man Sagar Lake to see the Jal Mahal. Let’s begin with the Amer Fort…
Amer Fort is a hill fort built by Raja Mansingh in the 16th century.
After reaching the Amer Fort we bought the entrance tickets and hired a guide. As I suggest for all historical places, a guide is a must. Without a guide, a fort is only a ruined site with stone walls and pillars.
After entering the fort, we reached the Jalebi Chowk. Jalebi Chowk was the place where all the ceremonies of the palace took place. The army gathered here at the behest of the king when required. Here you can find elephant and horse stables (some of them are now converted to souvenir shops and administrative offices). There is raised platform which was used for alighting from the elephants. Even today, the visitors opting to take an elephant ride to the fort are alighted on the same platform.
The Jalebi Chowk area leads to the Diwan i Aam or the hall of public audience of the king. There is a staircase to the Sila Devi temple. Sila Devi is a form of Goddess Kali and the idol was presented to Raja Ram Singh after he defeated the king of Jessore (a kingdom in erstwhile Bengal)
The most discernible of all structures is the imposing Ganesh Pol. It is a three storied gateway with an image of Lord Ganesha in between. The Ganesh Pol has both Rajput and Islamic architectural features. The upper tier of the Ganesh Pol has lattice walls and windows through which the royal ladies watched the ceremonies held in the Diwan i Aam.
A close up.. You can see the image of Lord Ganesha in the centre.
We entered into the private palaces of the king through the Ganesh Pol. Here, on the ceilings, you can see paintings with gold filigree work. The golden parts shimmer when sunlight falls on them.
In the private section, there is the Sukh Mandir or Diwan i Khas, which is the hall of private audience of the king. This place was also used as a summer retreat by the royal family as the rooms were kept cool by a system of perforated walls through which cold water was passed from an overhead tank.
You can also see few rooms of the palace. However, these rooms are closed to the public and you have to peep through the glass windows to get a glimpse of the interior. There are water channels through which running water was passed to keep the interior cool and provide relief from the scorching heat of Rajasthan. The wooden doors have ivory inlay work on them though most of them are now in dilapidated state. One interesting point to note is the small size of the doors on which our guide quipped that maybe the kings wanted people to bow before getting in.
The most beautiful of all places is the Sheesh Mahal or the Mirror Palace. The walls and ceiling of this palace have mirrors intricately embellished to prove it a silver luster. The mirror mosaics and tinted glass panels are inlaid on the walls which are strikingly beautiful. This place really stupefied me.
A close up of the walls:
This place also offers a nice photo op.
Bear the narcissist in me for one more. I just love posting my own photos 😛
After satiating our curiosity with little confabulation with our guide we clicked a few photographs and then came out of the fort. On our way out, we had the privilege to hear a fine Rajasthani folk song played by a folk artist. I would like to render a small token of appreciation for that performance by sharing this photo:
There was a rendition of marionettes dancing to the tunes of famous Bollywood numbers. It’s enthralling to see such a lively performance from those comatose marionettes. Below is a video of the performance.
Next, we moved to the Jaigarh Fort. While Amer fort was a royal residence, the Jaigarh Fort was meant for army use. It was basically used by the army for protecting the Amer Fort, keeping a watch on the surroundings and as a stockyard to manufacture and store weapons. It also had an elaborate water storage system which used rainwater harvesting techniques and was used to maintain a constant water supply to the Amer fort even during summer seasons.
The only point of attraction in Jaigarh Fort is a humongous cannon known as the Jaivana Cannon. The barrel of this cannon is over 20 feet in length, weighing more than 50 tonnes making it the largest cannon in the world. The cannon barrel is mounted on a pair of wheels. It was designed to fire cannonballs weighing over 50 kilograms. The cannon has only been fired once. There is a board in front of it which gives all information about the size and history of this cannon.
Apart from the cannon, there is nothing much to see there. There is armoury which has a collection of swords, machetes, shields, body armours, guns and cannonballs. There are a few photographs of kings who served in the Indian army.
After winding up Jaigarh Fort, we headed for the City Palace. On the way, we stopped near the Jal Mahal. Jal Mahal is a small palace built on an island in the Man Sagar lake. It originally served as a summer retreat for the royal family. Now it has been taken over by the Taj group who are renovating it to built an ultra luxurious resort. Hence visitors were not allowed into it and we could only click photographs from the banks of the lake.
After clicking a few photographs, we had lunch at a nearby restaurant and then headed for the City Palace. Click on the link below to read about the City Palace:
Amer Fort is definitely one of the best forts in the country. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting the Amer Fort. As a fort, Jaigarh Fort was less captivating but still, I liked the Jivana cannon and views of Jaipur city from the fort are excellent. There is a spot from where you can see the Jal Mahal as well. I hope you liked this post. Please share your feedback and your experiences of the fort in the comments section below. Keep Travelling and Spread Love…