Amer Fort and Palace in Amer, Rajasthan (just near Jaipur). It is also known as the Amber Fort and Palace.
This is just more amazing among all sorts of other amazing. I have to say Jaipur was the best part of this week long trip for sure.
Amer Fort stands high above a beautiful lake and also above the City of Amer near Jaipur. It’s quite the hike to the top, so be prepared. I am not joking that there is an ambulance waiting in the fort entrance near the top (you can see it in one of the pictures). This location is covered by the composite ticket (as is Albert Hall Museum, Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantar and 3 other sites).
You need a good 3 hours to hike up and to see Amer Fort, the Palace and the Jaigarh Fort above it. It is really worth the hike. Bring water but if you forget, you can get some at the ticket area at the entry of Amer Fort. Also there, you can eat at a meat only restaurant (for all the complainers at my hotel at Agra), buy coffee and get some souvenirs. There are only a few hawkers who bother to come this far up.
When you first enter you’ll notice the lake at the bottom. It’s beautiful and has part of the fort complex jutting out into in, including an amazing little garden. Then you look up and get all intimidated by the idea of hiking up all that way… just kidding. You look up to see just how large a fort complex this actually is. Huge! The hill it stands on is called the Hill of Eagles.
You can take an elephant ride up to the top but I was feisty, sick of being sick and ready to tackle the hike on my own. So though Sameer tried to talk me out of it, I hiked it.
On the way up, I saw a cat using the drainage gutter to make its way up and avoid the people. Haha. Smart cat.
Once inside the Fort, you turn left to enter the Palace. Not right, like I did, that the ambulance/delivery road. The palace has little signs to guide you and tell you what you are seeing but you can also get an audio headset here that will explain things in far more detail. If you turn at the entryway, you can see the battlements and walls on the mountain directly across, impressive in their own right.
The Palace itself is four stories and has four separate courtyards with intricate gardens in each of them. There is also a Hall of Public Audience (Diwan-e-Aam), the Hall of Private Audience (Diwan-e-Khas), the Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors) and the Sukh Niwas inside. The Sukh Niwas was designed to capture wind flow during the hot summers.
Jaigarh Fort above is connected by tunnels to the Amer Fort. The tunnels were meant as a way for the royals to escape to the stronger Jaigarh Fort in the event of hostilities.
In another part of the Palace, there were beautifully painted ceilings and walls. However, this part of the Palace is also composed of very small rooms, one of which some ass (or more likely more than one given the strength of the stench) has used as a garbage/bathroom. Really? Really? You all are going to climb all this way, past the washrooms in the first courtyard just to pee in these tiny rooms? That’s what you’re going to do? I’m sure you all wouldn’t mind if someone did that in your house right?
This isn’t quite the same as the public urination you see everywhere but in many ways it’s worse. You just don’t expect, never expect, to walk in the room of a monument to hit a wall of stale urine smell and garbage.
I wish I had brought my better camera and good lenses with me from Canada (though they might have been stolen). These pictures just don’t do a good job of showing the immensity of this place. It’s a fortress that one would have to think twice about attacking given it’s placement, thick walls and the style of the battlements. Very impressive.
Like everywhere else in Jaipur, this place is also covered in macaques, who stayed on their higher vantage points and did not try to harass the visitors for food. This tells me that tourists aren’t trying to feed them. Good. Great. Good job tourist folk!
Okay, so not much of a secondary topic to talk about today. This is a serious hike up to both Forts and the Palace, so don’t take it lightly (for those friends who are maybe not in the best physical shape).
I made the hike all the way up and down, including all the stairs in the Amer Palace, without difficulty, so you don’t have to be in Olympian shape but those with heart or lung issues might want to think twice about it or … take the elephant ride! And maybe plan for a little more time. You could easily spend a whole morning or afternoon here.
On the way back down to Jaipur, Sameer tried to get me to go to a market but I didn’t buy in. He, wisely, didn’t push it. Instead, he took Jagdeep and I to a nice veg restaurant for lunch. It was really, really awesome food. I wish I could remember where it was… hmmm. Yeah, no, I’ll never be able to find that place again.
Peace and love all,