Amber Fort

Amber Fort is about 11 km north of Jaipur, so it's easy to rent a car with driver for the half-day trip up and back. The  construction of the fort started in 1592, after which it became the home of the maharajahs of the region, before Jai Singh II decided in 1727 to build and move to the city of Jaipur.  When you first arrive at the fort, the vast size of the whole complex is breathtaking.  In fact, the fort was built in a high bowl-shaped depression surrounded by low mountains.  A wall which recalls the Great Wall of China surrounds practically the whole area.

Access to the fort is on foot, by jeep or by elephant (if you arrive early).  When we arrived, the elephants had given up work for the day and were cooling off in what was left of a lake below the fort.  We were told later that the water table in the region has been steadily descending for years, so how long the lake will last is anyone's guess.

Elephants being carefully washed and attended to

Elephant and driver
Tourists in front of Amber Fort, just above the elephant lake Elephant and driver
Elephant in lake Elephant bathing
Painted elephant Ah, that shower feels good!

After the ride up, you enter into a first courtyard, then up some steps and through a gate into another one. Here is located the Diwan-i-Am, or Hall of Public Audience, an open structure supported by beautifully carved pillars.

Diwan-i-Am Gateway to inner courtyard

Mosaics on gateway Garden in inner courtyard

View towards the gateway from between the gorgeous columns in the courtyard

You then pass through a gateway decorated with mosaics into a higher terrace with a beautiful garden and fountains. Here is located the great marvel of the palace, the Jai Mandir, or Hall of Victory.  This incredible structure is decorated with inlaid panels of various stones and small mirrors in the walls and ceilings.  The overall effect is stunning, as is the detail.

Ceiling of the Jai Mandir Interior of Jai Mandir

Detail of wall decorations Indian tourists at Jai Mandir

Climbing upstairs, you see the upper part of the gateway to the inner terrace, or you can look down on the lake with the elephants bathing, beyond a formal garden with geometric shapes.

The upper gateway Elephant lake and geometric garden constructed in the very lake

We were fascinated by this enormous wall that was once built around the fort along the crests of the surrounding mountains, all the way to the town of Amber A close-up of one of the forts along the wall

If you walk out next to the sheer dropoff of  the palace walls, you have a wonderful view of the incredible layout of the fort, with the wall mounted around it on the hilltops - the town of Amber below and Jaipur in the background.

In this picture, the corner of the walls of the fort is visible at lower left; a corner of the elephant pond, at lower right. The town of Amber is in the center.

If you're in the area, a visit to Amber Fort is a must!

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