|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
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
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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
winters; hot days, cool nights in summer. Part of the lake was man made, lots of
digging by the not so fortunate.
|Part of Lake Maota|
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
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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
|Courtyard Of 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.
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