Through my eyes

living my life without regrets

Saturday, May 13, 2017


The Great Wall of Rajasthan
The Amber Fort

The Amber Palace

We traveled to a small town a bit (10 km) outside of Jaipur by the name of Amer. A large Fort was built here about 1000 AD that later on was leveled and then rebuilt and expanded until it was even more enlarged about 1700 and became the capital of the Rajput in Rajasthan. 

Inside the Amber Fort

A Great Wall of China kind of wall surrounded and protected this Fort and could even be seen from a distance of 3 km away. This wall, like in China sits on the peaks of the surrounding hills, part of the Aravalli range. These walls would have been the first hurdle to conquer if you chose to attack. Those walls fortify the Fort inside of which is a Palace. Built with 4 distinct levels in a grand style, the Palace housed the families of the Rajput Maharajas. Each level of the Palace had its purpose, from reception areas for the masses, to the next level being a meeting level for private audiences, to living spaces in winter and summer.
Beautifully Carved Struts on the Pavilion
Open, Breezy Pavilion
Walking up each level inside the fort, we experienced a more luxurious display than the previous level. The topmost area was sumptuous. Concave mirrors in the walls and ceilings
Amazing Art Work On Every Surface
would reflect night lights and enhance candle or ghee lights. Terraces could be converted to cozy rooms in winter, illuminated by ghee (butter) lights, by hanging heavy woolen carpets, to block the air or view. Pillows on the floors, lots of Ghee lamps, music and you would have a romantic setting that is also very exotic. Those Rajput knew how to spend their time, knew what splendor was.

 A lake, Lake Maota, supplied drinking water and its cooling effect was used in summer, when temperatures can reach 130F (50C). This is desert living, cold
Part of Lake Maota
nights, cold winters; hot days, cool nights in summer. Part of the lake was man made, lots of digging by the not so fortunate.
Jaigar Fort Is Behind Us

Many today call this the Amber Fort, but the town near it is the town of Amer.

Above the Fort, at the top of the mountain, connected by underground passageways, is a true Fort (Jaigar Fort). A safety backup for the palace and an even more safe and secure place, should anybody ever try to attack. The set up was so successful that nobody ever even tried to conquer this “Amber” Fort. It might have been built out of paranoia; with excessive defensive strategies, but it proved itself a safe
place to live.

Getting On the Elephant From a High Platform
To get to this Palace Fort we used an elephant. It is a steep climb up and every tourist gets a ride. A total of 120 elephants are available, each elephant is only, by law, allowed 5 trips up and down a day. The temperature is too hot, even for elephants. We had 90F when we visited in early March. If you miss the elephants, jeeps will be used instead. Carol and I were on one beast and we started out in the lead, but we had gotten an animal with a strange disposition. We arrived last to the top. The animal did not want to move faster than a very, very slow walk, despite the mahout’s urging. We were the comic
This Motorcyclist Has More Than Elephants to Worry About
set of the trek up the hill. It was hot, not my kind of temperature, maybe the elephant felt the heat, too. I also understand why the elephant was slow, when prodded I too go slower. Maybe the handler (Mahout) was not the usual guy, we never know, but it was comical, we were that slow. We took a jeep back down to the bus. The A/C in the bus felt good.

Walking Would Have Been Faster But Harder

The Amber Fort is outside the city of Jaipur and a defensive marvel. Ladies of the court, while safe, were bored in this ‘Nowhere’ land and wanted to see life happening around them, maybe even shop? Their complaints fell on good ears because in 1799 the Hawa Mahal was built in downtown Jaipur. It is a 5 story structure, with 593 veiled windows. Now those veiled Harem ladies could get an idea about outside life, get some peeks of city life and watch parades. This Hawa Mahal (also called the Palace of the Winds because of the many windows) looks like an apartment building, and with its reddish sandstone frontage kind of blends in today in old Jaipur.

The old town of Jaipur is a planned city. It did not develop gradually but was planned and
Hawa Mahal, Palace of the Winds

Windows Allow Women To See
and Not Be Seen
laid out by architects. One was British the other Indian, so old Jaipur has a mixed feel to it, making Jaipur very progressive. 

Courtyard Of The City Palace
Even a City Palace was planned. This City Palace contains several buildings, palaces, courtyards and gardens. The complex is so large that part of it today is a museum while another part is still the residence of a young Maharajah. Tourists can visit the museum, (we did) but the residence of the Maharajah is off limits. This Maharajah of Jaipur is 18 years old and still a bachelor. I am sure many an Indian mother would love to get him for her eligible daughter. We did not see this eligible bachelor but he was within the building. A signal flag is hoisted when this Maharajah is at “home”.
Inside the City Palace

Rajasthan is a desert province, sparse greenery, hot summers, only very little rain falls during the off monsoon times. Years ago camels were used to transport items, today trucks do this job. There are many Tata trucks but there are also still about 700,000 camels in Rajasthan. We just did not see them that much inside cities. But we did see some camels. Camels might be more useful in rural settings; I am told the city of Udaipur has more camels. The adage is: elephants in Jaipur, camels in Udaipur.
Where the Shadow Falls Determines the Time of Day
We ended our tour of Jaipur and the day with a visit to the Solar Observatory.  It was built in 1734 and uses the position of the sun, shadows and mathematical formulas on 19 complex machines to determine the time, date, latitude and longitude. It was originally built and started to compare these instruments to the times set in the Islamic calendar. Astronomers looked into the heavens and determined how earth was aligned compared to other heavenly bodies. The setup will also predict your future according to your astrological sign. I guess it is important knowledge but I would be bored doing this kind of job. It was too hot to spend much time here.
All These Instruments Determine Your Horoscope
Depending On Your Astrological Sign

More Instruments Measuring?

I was more blown away when someone told me that India has 22 official languages because each state has its own language. But Hindi is the official language of India and English is widely spoken. In Rajasthan, Hindi is the most common language, but some speak Rajasthani, a dialect.

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