April 16, 2012

India : Jaipur - Amber Fort and Palace

Continuation from here ...

It's New Year 2012! Well... it's just a normal day for me. I woke up very early that day as I slept early the night before. I went down to the lobby and it was very quiet. I guessed other guests were still asleep and tired from the New Year's Eve party.

I already talked to the hotel manager yesterday night about hiring an auto-rickshaw driver for sightseeing today. My plan was to go visit the Amber Fort. Since the fort is located around 11km north of Jaipur, it is best to hire an auto-rickshaw to go there.

The hotel manager found me an auto-rickshaw driver for only Rs500 and he would drive me around Jaipur till evening. It's quite cheap so I agreed straight away. More like lazy to think actually. Hehe...

Amber Fort is sometimes called Amer Fort, also sometimes called Amber Palace or Amer Palace. Choose which one you like.

It is situated on a rocky hill overlooking a lake thus giving visitors a great view. But my view wasn't that great because of the fog. 

A flight of steps leads up to the fort.

For you lazy bummers, don't lose hope just yet! You can still reach the palace because there's always another alternative. Yeah baby... go waddle up the elephant! 

But only going up ok. You have to climb down on your own as the ride is for one way only.

But if you want to ride these elephants, come early in the morning as the queue can be very long and the service is only until noon. The fee is Rs900 for 2 person.

The elephant ride and the steps climb will lead to this Suraj Pol, and the large Jaleb Chowk courtyard. This courtyard can be crowded as the ticket office is here. It can also be crowded as there is a temple on the left side of the courtyard.

Suraj Pol

Jaleb Chowk 

Immediately next to the temple, these steep flight of steps leads into the main palace grounds.
Singh Pol

As in other palaces, there are the Diwan-i-Khas and Diwan-i-Am in here but I think they are just mediocre. Personally, I felt that the palace buildings here were less impressive than other palaces that I've visited in India but maybe because of the setting, its location on a hill makes it looks amazing.
Anyway, there were some parts that I couldn't deny was amazing. Like this Ganesh Pol.  

It is an imposing gateway beautifully painted and endorse typical Rajasthani motifs.

Ganesh Pol leads into a second courtyard where you can find the dazzling Sheesh Mahal. It means the Glass Palace, and it is called so because of its beautiful mirror glass work in it. 

mirrored ceiling

Its walls and ceilings are decorated with intricate mosaics fashioned out of shards of mirror and coloured glass.

the glass details

But over time, the glasses condition deteriorates so some process of restoration were done during my visit.

Outside this Glass Palace, there is a magic flower fresco carved at the base of one of the marble pillars. Wonder why it is called the magic flower? On normal view, you see it as a flower. But using your hand hiding parts of the flowers, you can see seven objects there! Try find a fish tail, a lotus, a hooded cobra, an elephant trunk, a lion's tail, a cob of corn and also a scorpion. Amazing creation indeed!

How did I know this magic? Eavesdropping other tourists' guide explanation of course! Hahaha... At first I thought it's just a flower fresco but then I saw groups by groups came surrounding it. There must be something special about it so I joined the groups and listened the explanations together. Would've missed it if not for my kepochi attitude. :p

the magic flower fresco

South of this courtyard lies the Palace of Man Singh I, the oldest part of the palace complex. Thus the buildings here look plain compared to other areas. In the centre of the courtyard is the pillared baradari, which was once a meeting area for the maharanis.

Baradari pavilion at Palace of Man Singh I

There is also a tunnel in the palace. Located on the western side of the palace, the tunnel connects the palace to Jaigarh Fort.


But only a small part of it were accessible. I didn't find further way up to Jaigarh.

Jaigarh Fort as seen from the palace

For you shopping freak, there are a few shops and bazaars inside the palace. This Hot Pink shop sells Indian-inspired and Indian-influenced clothes and wares.

Or you can find fridge magnets and other souvenirs at this bazaar.

Amber Palace is open daily.
Visiting hours are from 8 am to 6 pm.
Entrance fee is Rs200 for foreigners and Rs25 for Indians.

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