February    2019

Amer Fort-A Symbol of Rich Culture and Historical Pride

Saturday,20 Jan 2018 02:14 PM IST

Situated 11 kilometres away from the city of Jaipur, standing tall, is the sublime Amer Fort in the city of the same name. The fort is famous and is one of the optimal tourist destinations in the state of Rajasthan as it is rich in its culture and history. The Amer Fort has also been included in the UNESCO World Heritage site list among five other forts of the state of Rajasthan.

Amer occasionally pronounced as Amber, is said to have derived its name from the Ambikeshwara Temple. Ambikashwara is another name for Lord Shiva. However, local folklore also suggests that the name of the fort originated from Amba a form of Goddess Durga, who was the presiding deity of the Meenas who are said to have developed the town of Amber. Located on top of a hill named ‘Cheel ka Teela’ (The Hill of Eagles) on Aravalli Hills, the promontory juts into Maota Lake and overlooks the city of Jaipur. Another fort called Jaigarh Fort is also situated on the same hill and overlooks the Amer Fort. Both these forts are viewed as one complex as they are connected by a subterranean passage that was believed to have been an escape route for the royal members and others at the Amer Fort during times of war.

The scenic fort was built in 1592 by Raja Man Singh I who was a trusted general of the Mughal Emperor Akbar, who included him among the Navaratnas or the nine gems of the royal court. It was however, modified by several rulers up until late 1600s. It was built using red sandstone and white marble. It is known for its beguiling style of architecture that incorporates Rajput and Mughal styles. Moreover, the fort is adorned with ancient paintings and portraits of prominent Rajput rulers.

The fort has four levels, each having a courtyard and each with a separate entrance. One enters the premises first through a gate called ‘Suraj Pol’ or the Sun Gate which derives its name from the fact that this gate faces east and witnesses the sunrise every morning. It commences the tour of the fort with the first courtyard named Jalebi Chowk that includes a stairway leading to the main palace grounds and to the right of this staircase stands the Sila Devi temple. ‘Ganesh Pol’ or the Ganesh Gate, named after the Hindu God Lord Ganesh, is a gateway to all private palaces inside the complex and is a three levelled structure with many frescoes coloured in natural colour and above this gate is the Suhag Mandir where the women of the royal family witnessed functions through latticed windows, of the Diwan-e-aam in the second courtyard or the hall that was meant for public audiences, where the king used to meet common men as well as important dignitaries. This hall is adorned with mosaic glass works.

The third courtyard encompasses two resplendent palatial buildings named Jai Mandir which is also known as the Sheesh Mahal and Sukh Niwas or Sukh Mahal. The Sheesh Mahal is one of the most exquisite attractions inside the Amer Fort as it is ornamented in concave mirrors which give it an exotic appeal and it is said that if two candles are lit in this palace, it would look like a thousand stars coruscating in the ceiling. The Sukh Mahal is located on the courtyard opposite the Sheesh Mahal is built using sandalwood and ivory where a small channel carrying cold water runs through the edifice which keeps the environment of the building cool and the water from this channel flows into the garden. The third courtyard also includes the palace of Man Singh I and a garden located between the Sheesh Mahal and Sukh Niwas. Further, the Tripolia Gate or the three gates which gives an access to the palace from the west and opens in three directions and the Lion Gate that was once a heavily guarded gate and has a zig zag alignment which was made in mind keeping considering the security of the fort so as to attack intruders, stand tall alongside this courtyard.

The fourth courtyard is where the ‘Zenana’ or the royal women lived and has many rooms that open to one common corridor so that the other queens wouldn’t know when the king visited any one of them.

The Amer Fort is a place that has a very rich history and culture to leave the all those who visit spellbound. The historic significance and the architecture make this a must visit location.

(As compiled by Prerna Mistry)

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