India Day 3 (12 Jun 11) – Palaces of Jaipur: From Amber Fort to Jaiarh Fort to Wind Palace of Mawa Mahal

On a Local Bus to Amber Fort

The sky is already brightly lighted at 7 am when I woke up, looking as if it is already noontime. Rather than forcing myself to get back to sleep, I left the hotel at around 8 am after breakfast. I made my first stop Amber Fort, which lies about 15 km north of Jaipur. As I was exiting the hotel, the very nice doorman asked where I was heading to, I told him my destination and he recommended me to take a public bus. The bus runs from outside the hotel to Amber Fort! He also told me to get the day ticket which costs 30 rupees and I can take the bus the whole day without paying again! He was kind enough to lead me to the road and hail the bus, which the bus stopped in front of the hotel to let me board. The doorman then told the bus driver where I was going and to give me the day ticket, which he promptly did. The bus runs through Jaipur City, Jal Mahal and then towards Amber fort. When the bus reached the fort, the conductor and bus driver reminded me that my stop has arrived and there I was standing at the base of the Fort. I would have to say the fort does not look that majestic from below, but it certainly looked like a piece of art.

Arrival at the foot of Amber Fort
There is a reservoir at the foot of Amber Fort
Amber Fort
At the foot of Amber Fort
Me at the foot of Amber Fort
The reservoir at the foot of Amber Fort

The Walled Palace – Amber Fort

To get to Amber fort, I have to cross a small garden, then climb up a flight of stairs. There is a ramp for people who opted for the elephant ride up the fort. The walk up did not take too long, I stopped by a few times to take pictures of the fort and its surroundings. Once I reach the fort, entered its door, there was a huge courtyard. There are a total of 4 courtyards within Amber fort. This is first of the 4 courtyards. After getting the tickets to the fort, instead of going into the fort, I saw an entrance to a temple. Headed towards that way, however, no photography allowed so I headed back to the courtyard and went into the fort.

To get into the fort, there is a short set of stairs to climb. At the top of the stairs is the second courtyard, with a pillared structure at one corner of the yard. This is the Diwan-i-Am or the Public Audience Hall where the emperors grant an audience with his officials. As there were groups of tourists with their tour guide explaining the purpose of this structure, I went to one inconspicuous corner of the yard. There was a small balcony that overlooks the base of the fort. However the railings were short, makes me wonder if people back then were rather short. Passing through a door looking structure, climbed a short flight of stairs to the roof of the Diwan-i-Am. There is a platform on this rooftop that overlooks the front courtyard and part of the town, as well as the garden at the base of the fort. I could see Jaigarh Fort standing mightily on top of the hills behind Amber Fort.

As I walk along this roof area, I can see a small garden further inside the fort and there was another building which overlooked this garden. This must be the third courtyard in Amber fort. Looks like a place for the royalties to relax and spend their time. I turned around (literally) and headed towards the rooms on the Ganesh Pol. From here I can look down onto the second courtyard in Amber fort, where Diwan-i-Am stands. What I like about this fort is there are no touts or volunteered guide that expects you to tip them, so I have all the time in the world to explore the numerous rooms and the corridors that linked these rooms.

As I was exploring around the fort (all I know was I kept climbing upstairs after stairs), I soon realised I was at the innermost end of the fort. 2 small balconies overlooked the innermost (fourth) courtyard. Behind these balconies seemed to be rooms for servants as they are pretty small and out of sight. I descended some stairs and made my way to the innermost courtyard. Along the way, I came across this basil plant, besides it was a tablet that explained this is one of 2 plants in India. As I was about to leave, there was a guide explaining to 2 Europeans that the Indians believed that touching the plant on Sunday brings bad luck! Damn, I just touched it awhile ago.

On my way up the Amber Fort
The garden at the foot of Amber Fort
Amber Fort
On my way up the Amber Fort
At the mid-point of Amber Fort
At the mid-point of Amber Fort
Another option of travelling up the fort
At the gate of Amber Fort
Panoramic view of the front courtyard of Amber Fort
View of the surroundings of Amber Fort
The front courtyard of Amber Fort
A selfie at Amber Fort
Surroundings of the Amber Fort
The Diwan-I-Arms in Amber Fort
Ganesh Pole, which leads to the second courtyard
Me at the Jaleb Chowk courtyard with Ganesh Pole behind
Diwan-I-Arms upclose
The architecture of the Diwan-I-Arms
The corridor linking Diwan-I-Arms to Ganesh Pole
Panoramic view of Diwan-I-Arms linking to Ganesh Pole
View of the Reservoir from the Balcony at Jaleb Chowk courtyard
View of the entrance to Amber Fort
View of the entrance to Amber Fort and Jaleb Chowk courtyard
On the roof of Ganesh Pole
Panoramic view of the surrounding from the roof of Ganesh Pole
The second courtyard in Amber Fort
The second hall of audience in Amber Fort
View of Jaleb Chowk courtyard from Ganesh Pole
Basil Plant

I went to the centre of the fourth courtyard and there was another guide explaining to a group of Taiwanese tourists the purpose of the courtyard. He mentioned that this portion of the fort was the sleeping quarters of the wives and mistresses of the emperor and their children. After he was done explaining, we spoke a little about the fort and Jaigarh fort. After the chat, I bid them farewell and started to head out of the fort as I thought this was pretty much it about the fort. As I was proceeding out, there was this corner where some music can be audible. There was also a crowd surrounding where the music came from. I went over to check it out and to find that a snake charmer was playing the music to his pet cobra.

This building houses the sleeping chamber of the emperor
This is where the wives and children of the Emperor sleeps
A Pavilion at the centre of the fourth Courtyard
Looking out on the walls of Amber Fort
Exploring the fourth courtyard
Buildings in the innermost part of Amber Fort

The Palace Where Battles were Fought From – Jaigarh Fort

I headed out of Amber fort and hired an auto-rickshaw to take me to Jaigarh Fort. The ride to the Jaigarh Fort was not long, on the way we saw the lake where Jal Mahal is. The winding road took us to Jaigarh Fort. This fort has 2 sections once pass the main entrance. I took the right side as it says “Big Cannon”. I had read that the world’s largest cannon was situated at this fort. Before heading towards the cannon, I went to the side of the wall that has a watchtower overlooking the grounds below. I then proceeded towards the cannon, on the way there was this huge pit. I was wondering if this pit used to be a gladiator grounds at the time the fort was completed. Soon I found myself at the big cannon. Man, it was huge. One of the staff asked for my ticket and he volunteered some information about this cannon. He mentioned that this cannon was brought up part by part using elephants and was assembled up where it is right now. To change the direction of the cannon requires the strength of 4 elephants! Damn it is one heavy cannon. The staff member also explained that the cannon was only fired once during its test trail and was never fired again since then, as there was no need to fire it. He also explained that the huge pit that I saw behind was a water tank where the gunners jumped in after then light the cannon to mask the loud noise it produced. After which, the staff member told me to go over to the other end of the fort and visit the living quarters and let me go on my way. I was surprised that this guy did not ask for tips or anything. So off I went, past the water tank to the other side of the fort.

As I was entering the fort, the guy at the entrance demanded to see my ticket, so I showed him and he, in turn, became my guide. We walked around this side of the fort, which is mainly living, dining and entertainment quarters. The staff brought me to the towers that overlooked the whole of Amber Town and the Amber fort. From the tower, I can see the walls that protect the town, it is just like those we see in the movies. The staff jokingly said that in China they have the great wall, in Jaipur, we have a mini wall to protect the city. Other than the view up here, I also like the breeze that cools the heatwave. Too bad our stay cannot be longer. The staff brought me across the top of the wall to the other watchtower. From here I can see Amber Fort closer. The staff also shared with me about a tunnel that linked Amber Fort to Jaigarh Fort. He mentioned that this tunnel is used by the Emperor to get to this fort. At this time, it struck me that the purpose of Amber fort is for residence and that of Jaigarh fort is for warfighting. As we were walking towards the entrance, the staff pointed to a sealed doorway and said: “This is the tunnel that linked to Amber fort”. As we were reaching the entrance, the staff asked for a tip! Another opportunist! and he did it quite discreetly away from the sight of this colleague, which led me to think that this was not the usual practice!

Driving towards Jaigarh Fort
Driving towards Jaigarh Fort
Walking up towards Jaigarh Fort
Entrance to Jaigarh Fort
View of the whole of Jaigarh Fort
In Jaigarh Fort
View of the tower and the surrounding hills it overlooks
The Watch Tower in Jaigarh Fort
Me at Jaigarh Fort
Me at Jaigarh Fort
View of the hills the Jaigarh Fort guards over
Part of the reservoir in Jaigarh Fort
World largest Cannon in Jaigarh Fort
World largest Cannon in Jaigarh Fort
World largest Cannon in Jaigarh Fort
View of the inner part of Jaigarh Fort
View of the whole of the reservoir in the Jaigarh Fort
View of the watchtower up close
Around Jaigarh Fort
The surroundings of Jaigarh Fort
An ancient cannon that used to defend Jaigarh Fort
The audience hall in Jaigarh Fort
Up close of the Audience Hall
Sleeping quarters in Jaigarh Fort
Gardens in Jaigarh Fort
View of the watchtower overlooking the reservoir
View of the wall guarding the Amber Town
Watch Tower watching over the town of Amber
View of Amber Fort from Jaigarh Fort
View of the reservoir supplying water to the Amber Fort

The Water Palace – Jal Mahal

As I departed Jaigarh Fort, I told the driver to drop me off Jal Mahal, which I figured is closer to where we were then Amber Fort. The driver obliged. Well, Jal Mahal is a palace that is built in the middle of the lake, which was used as a summer palace to cool the royalties from the heatwave in summer. There is no access to this palace so all I can do is to take pictures of it. I went to the bus stop next to catch a bus back to the hotel. The weather was getting hotter as it approached noon.

View of Jal Mahal
One of the pavilions near the Jal Mahal
Jal Mahal
View of Jal Mahal
Me with Jal Mahal

The Wind Palace – Mawa Mahal

On the way back to the hotel, I stopped by Mawa Mahal – the wind palace as it was commonly known. Alighting the bus, I crossed the road like the locals trying to fight space with the forever flowing of vehicles. Getting to the palace was easy, the way to the palace was marked by signs. After getting the ticket, I went into the palace. This palace, compared to the others I have seen so far this palace is much smaller. Its main purpose is to allow women in the royal family to see the happenings in the city, as well as to watch the possession as they match by the Mawa Mahal. The Mawa Mahal was built in the way that it looked as though the upper levels of the structure stacked onto the ones below. The viewing “rooms” are open on one side and can only accommodate 1 people in each room.

The way up to the highest point of this building was quite an easy walk. There wasn’t any staircase up and a ramp was used instead.  The best view out of the little windows onto the street would have to be those on the uppermost floor, as it is the windiest. The only stairs in this palace were the one that led to the uppermost portion of this palace. There is only 1 flight of stairs and it was so narrow that only 1 person can use the stairs at any given point of time. I took some pictures from the tallest point and went to the only wind tower that was open to the public next to the main structure of Mawa Mahal. From the wind tower, I truly believe why this palace was known as the Wind Palace as it is the windiest on one of the 2 wind towers in the palace grounds. From the tower, I can not only see the street below, but I can also see the other attractions close by. The main thing to do in Mawa Mahal is climbing the main structure that overlooks the streets. I did not spend too much time at Mawa Mahal and decided to head towards Jantar Mantar, which looked very close to Mawa Mahal.

The facade of  Mawa Mahal
The facade of Mawa Mahal
The market behind the facade of Mawa Mahal
Entrance to Mawa Mahal
View from the courtyard of Mawa Mahal
The backside of the Mawa Mahal
Rooms in Mawa Mahal
View of the inner part of Mawa Mahal
One of the rooms in Mawa Mahal
Courtyard on top of Mawa Mahal
At the top of Mawa Mahal
View of the top part of Mawa Mahal
View of the inner part of Mawa Mahal
Looking down at the courtyard of Mawa Mahal
View from one of the windows on the facade of Mawa Mahal
Watch tower in Mawa Mahal
Watch Tower in Mawa Mahal
The roof of the highest point of Mawa Mahal
Inner Mawa Mahal
Inside Mawa Mahal
Mawa Mahal overlooking the city of Jaipur
Inside one of the rooms in Mawa Mahal

Visiting Triton Mall in the Evening

As I was walking to where I thought Jantar Mantar is, a local stopped me and said the way I intended to go is out of bounds and told me to go outside onto the main street to get to Jantar Mantar. That was what I did, but I gave up halfway as the heat was getting to me. I headed back to the bus stop and caught a bus back to the hotel. I originally intended to spend the rest of the day at the hotel as it was really hot outside. However in the evening, as the weather cools down, I took a bus to Triton Mall, one of the newer shopping malls in Jaipur. The ride to Triton Mall was a short one. This mall is rather disappointing, as not many shop spaces are leased, making the whole mall feel like it is still undergoing construction. The visit to this mall was quite uneventful. I headed to the top floor, where the food court is to grab my dinner, after which I took the same bus back to the hotel to rest for the night.

A typical water point in Jaipur
Another water point to help the locals fend off the heat in the summer
Streets of Jaipur
Streets of Jaipur
Streets of Jaipur
Streets of Jaipur
Streets of Jaipur
The bus stop near the hotel
Triton Mall
Inside the Triton Mall
Dinner at Triton Mall


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