Amber Fort

Just 11 km outside Jaipur, lies the magnificent Amber Fort (Amer Fort), sitting atop a hill, and rising like a sentinel guarding the city. Commissioned in 1592 by Maharaja Man Singh I, the fort is a fine blend of Rajput and Mughal architectural styles, and boasts a grand palace, temples and several ornate gates. Built entirely of red sandstone with white marble work, the UNESCO World Heritage Site is a picture of opulence and grandeur, set against a stark desert backdrop and rolling hills.

One can either walk up the wide winding uphill road to reach the main gate of the fort or hire a cab. As you get closer to the massive gate, you realise why it was considered almost impregnable by the enemy, when the royal family used to reside here, before they shifted the capital to Jaipur. As you enter, you cross the Suraj Pol (sun gate), which leads to the main courtyard called Jaleb Chowk. Diagonally opposite is the Chand Pol (moon gate). From Jaleb Chowk, a flight of stairs leads up to the small Siladevi Temple, whose doors feature relief work in silver.

The main palace is up next. It includes the Diwan-e-Am (hall for a private audience with the king) with carved columns and latticed galleries, the king’s apartments, the gate Ganesh Pol with beautiful arches, and Jai Mandir or Sheesh Mahal. Stand at one of the many arched windows of the palace and take in the rolling shrub land stretching up to the horizon and the scenic Maota Lake at the foot of the fort. Even after centuries, it’s easy to imagine yourself as a Rajput king, who would stand here and survey his kingdom.

Sheesh Mahal or the mirrored palace is one of the most popular attractions here that draws the largest number of tourists. It is breathtaking with fine marble work and cut-glass and mirror inlaid designs on ceilings and walls. It is said that at night, as earthen lamps flickered inside the hall, the numerous mirrors reflected the light, creating the atmosphere of a start-lit sky. Hire a guide or an audio guide to know more about the legends of the fort. In the evening, watch history come alive in a spectacular sound and light show.

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