Amer or Amber Fort is about 11 kilometers from Jaipur, in Rajasthan, India. It is considered as one of the best hilltops fort in India which makes it a major tourist spot near Jaipur. The fort is a typical example for Rajput’s life style in Rajasthan. This magnificent fort is situated alongside the lake of Moatha. Amer was once known as Dhundar and was ruled by the Kachhwahas from the 11th to the 16th century, until the capital was moved from here to Jaipur. Raja Man Singh built this fort in 1592 AD and Raja Jai Sigh I expanded and renovated it later. While many such old structures have been either destroyed or replaced by other things, this fort has stood against all the tests of time and invasions.
The Amer Palace & Fort is in a beautiful natural setting, located on a rocky mountain gorge and overlooking an artificial lake. The craggy and rugged view from the complex from the outside betrays the beauty and culture that is on display inside with an amalgam of Hindu and Moghul architecture, a rich blend of white marble and red sandstone, and exquisite palaces, halls, pavilions, gardens and temples, which were built over two centuries by each of the then ruling Maharajas. The walls of the fort are covered with frescoes paintings, which depict the scenes of daily life. Some other walls are designed with mosaics and minute mirror works which is absolutely royal. While the exterior of the fort is rough and mighty, typical of the life of the gallant Rajputs- militant, adventurous, temperamental, and self indulgent, the interiors have a soft, comfortable and soothing ambience. Amer has a pure majestic look.
The Amber Fort is divided into 4 sections. An imposing stairway and a broad isle for elephants to walk up the ramp lead to the hilltop palace. Suraj Pol is the main gate which leads to Jaleb Chowk which is the main courtyard. Jaleb Chowk also served as an area for welcoming back the army who return home after winning a war. Here the army would then display their war earnings to the population at large. Leading to the palace is the main stairway which is situated in Jaleb Chowk.
Ganesh Pol is another imposing gateway painted with images of the elephant headed Good- Ganesh and Rajasthani Motifs. This gates leads to the inhabited apartments of the Kings.
The Amber Fort has a lot to be seen in its four sections:
Diwan I – Aam : Also known as the Hall of Public Audience this is the first huge room to come across, entered through an imposing stairway. The hall has a lattice gallery and a well proportioned 40 pillared beautiful pavilion made of a combination of marble and red sandstone. The pillars are elephant shaped columns and intricately carved suggesting the mastery of the artisans of Rajashtan.
The hall pavilion built by Raja Jai Singh I was used by the Maharajas to receive the general public and to govern over their kingdom. During proceedings and problem solving issues the King sat in the middle of the pavilion with all the important nobles and officers sitting on the northern side while the less prominent officials along with the general public sat on the western side, with the crowd spilling out in the adjoining courtyard. The southern part was kept clear for the royal ladies to watch the proceedings from their apartments.
Shila Mata (Devi) Temple:The temple is dedicated to Goddess Kali, Goddess of Victory and is located near Singh Pol. The temple has a unique black marble idol of Goddess brought from Jessore (now in Bangladesh) by Raja Man Singh in 1604. The temple gates are silver with images of nine forms of Goddess Durga (strength) and ten forms of Goddess Saraswati (knowledge). The mandap is made of white marble which is contrasting with the colour of the idol.
Legend of the idol: Before the war with the Maharaja of Bengal, Raja Man Singh prayed to the Goddess to grant him victory. Goddess Kali appeared in his dreams and instructed him to retrieve her idol hidden in the Bay of Bengal if he won the war. Raja Man Singh won the war, retrieved the idol form the spot and installed it in his temple.
Another temple dedicated to Goddess Kali, where Raja Man Singh always prayed before he left for any war. The temple is situated just before the entrance to the right side with a stairway leading to it. The temple is famous for huge silver loins and silver doors. The doorway to the temple has an image of Lord Ganesha, carved from a single piece of coral.
Diwan e Khaas: This is the Hall of Private Audience. Decorated with beautiful mirror work and carvings on walls and ceilings, the hall is also largely decorated with miniature murals made of coloured glass.
Old Amber Palace :Originally Amber fort was a place complex called Jaigarh Fort situated with in the Amber fort of today and was connected to Amber via fortified passages. The Jaigarh Fort is located above the Amber fort complex and was known to be the treasure vault of the Kachhwaha rulers.
Sheesh Mahal : This is the Hall of Mirrors located deep inside the fort and entirely filled with mirrors to lighten up the entire path. A single candle is enough to ward away the darkness of the night and the innumerable number of mirrors around light up as soon as one lit candle enters this hall.
Jai Mandir: Behind the Ganesh Pol, are a number of residential apartments of the Maharaja. Amongst them is Jai Mandir also known as Hall of Victory with inlaid panels, dazzling mirror ceilings, mosaics and sculptures. The hall has pattern made of glass that illuminate in the darkness just like twinkling stars (Convex mirrors)
Jas Mandir :Also known as Hall of Glory, this hall has pierced screen windows of alabaster that offer a beautiful view of Kesra Kyari (saffron bed) which is a garden with geometric designs.
Sukh Niwas : Opposite the Jai Mandir this is the Hall of Pleasure. It has a sandalwood door inlaid with ivory and a channel running down to the room. This helps in the natural flow of water to create an air conditioning effect to help cool the temperatures of the hall in the summer.
Zenana :This is the ladies house or royal apartments in which all rooms have a common entrance but separate chambers. The zenana surrounds a spectacular courtyard. Sitting right in their apartments the ladies could watch the proceedings in the Diwan e aam.
Gardens : Dil e aaram is the graden through which one enters the fort and the Charbagh garden is ornamented in patterns of Mughal Style.
The fort is a ten minute walk uphill and your little trek will be worth the wonders that it offers. You may also use the service of elephants to ride up to the fort from the bottom of the hill. The sound and light show should not be missed in the evening.