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Jaipur Heritage Monuments : Amber Fort
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Amber Fort Jaipur
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History of Amber Palace
Amber (also pronounced Amer) is situated about 10 km away from Jaipur on Jaipur-New Delhi road. It was the capital of old Dhundar state of Jaipur and was governed by Kachawaha rulers. The town was originally named Ambikeshwara and was later abridged to Amber or Aamer.
Lot of places of tourist interest and heritage importance are here in Amer, such as Maavtha, Dil-Aaram-Bag, Shila Devi Temple, Amer fort (Amber palace), Jagat Shiromani ka mandir, Jain temple, Amber masjid (mosque), and Nahar singh ji ki burj which must see by a tourist during Jaipur Tour.
Initially, the palaces at Amber were built by Raja Bharmal in 1558 and his successor Raja Man Singh. Later on some structure added by their descendents. Some of the structures get ruined with the time, some of the structures changed. But most of the structure is preserved and now maintaining by the state govt. The Amber fort as it exists today has been shaped by mainly Raja (ruler) Man Singh, Jai Singh I, and Jai Singh II.
Amber palace complex mainly comprises Jaleb Chowk, Singh Pol, Diwan-e-Aam, Diwan-e-Khaas, Ganesh Pol, Yash Mandir, Sukh Mandir, Suhag Mandir, Shila Devi temple, Baradari, Bhool Bhulaiya, and Zanana Dyodi (women's apartments). During Jaipur Tour, one can experience the practical approach of Indian Vastu, architectural excellence and beautiful stone carving work accomplished manually at Amber palace around four centuries back.
As the Amber fort is situated on a hill, previously there were two pathways to reach to Amber fort. One was for elephant riding, and another was walk-way which was in natural raw shape of hill and rock way. Now, the walk-way is in shape of cemented staircases. Recently, one road also been constructed from bottom of the hill to Amber fort for vehicles, but the walk-way or elephant riding is most preferable to enjoy the trip of Amber fort.
“Maavtha” is an abbreviated form of the word "Mahawata" from the huge "wat" or banyan trees which grew on the edges of the lake once a time.
Mainly the rain water collects in the lake flowing down from the nearby hills. The Dil-Aaram-Bag is situated on its northern end. The Kesar Kyari (Saffron Flowerbeds) garden is in its middle.
The lake was the main source of water for the palace. It was drawn up by draught animals through the water lifting system located in the south eastern portion of the palace.
Dil-Aaram-Bag (Garden to Sooth the Heart)
This well planned garden was laid on the northern side of Maavtha Lake in the 18th century.
Rectangular pillared halls on east and west corners along with fountains, the chattris on both the sides of the garden, water-courses, a central pool, flower beds in classical geometrical design, all these features make the ambience pleasure. So the name is eponymous.
The lower level garden on its northern side is called Ram bag. These gardens were laid following the Char Bag pattern of Mughal gardens.
Suraj Pol (Sun Gate)
Suraj Pol or the Sun Gate was the gate of exclusive or restricted entry into Amber Palace proper. It was called so because it directly faced the east direction from which the sun rises. Royal cavalcades and dignitaries entered the palace through this gate.
The Palace guard’s duty posts were located in the gate.
Diwan-E-Aam (Hall of Public Audience)
Patterned after similar halls in Mughal palaces, the Diwan-E-Aam was the court where the Raja gave audience to his subjects and met his officials.
Festivities on certain special occasions, like the celebrations following a victory in battle, Dussehra, the birthday of the Raja, were held here. The building was constructed on the orders of Mirza Raja Jai Singh (1621-67 A.D.) in red sand stone and marble masonry.
Beautifully ornamented in carved patterns of elephant head and vines, the details are a charming confluence of the decorative features found in the Mughal and Rajput styles of architecture. The distinctively constructed roof is supported by two rows of columns. The outer ones, in coupled pairs, are of red sand stone and the inner ones of cream marble.
Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II (1835-80 A.D.) converted the rear portion of the hall into a billiard room.
In the southern part of Diwan-E-Aam, there are "27 Kachehris" or 27 offices (Toshakhana) running in a series. These colonnaded arches housed the Government Secretariat from where the administration of Amber State was carried out.
"Ganesh Pol" or the "Ganesh Gate" provides access to the inner and private parts of the palace. Covered with frescoes, it was constructed on the orders of Mirza Raja Jai Singh (1621-67 A.D.).
Lord Ganesh is the deity who, it is believed, removes obstructions likely to come in the way of human beings in their every-day life. His likeness is therefore traditionally painted or placed over the main entry into a building.
Suhag Mandir is situated over the Ganesh Pol. It was used as a chamber by the royal ladies to witness, through lattice screens, the state functions held below in the Diwan-E-Aam.
Rasoda (The Royal Kitchen)
The palace has two sets of kitchens, the first adjacent to the Bhojanshala (dining hall) and the other near the Tripolia Gate, in its outer western part.
The Bhojanshala kitchen prepared meals for the ruler and his guests dining in the Bhojanshala. The other kitchen was meant for the palace staff.
Proficient bawarchis (cooks) prepared both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food. Ovens with multiple mouths were used in the cooking.
One of the attractions of the Amber Palace is the Diwan-E-Khas or the Hall of Private Audience. It was constructed in 1623 A.D. during the reign period of Mirza Raja Jai Singh (1621-67 A.D.) and took six years in completion. It is for this reason also called Jai Mandir and because of the beautiful mirror glass work in it, Sheesh Mahal or the Glass Palace. The Raja met his special guests, like envoys from other rulers, here.
The upper part of Diwan-E-Khas is known as Jas Mandir (Yash Mandir) and is spell-binding in the intricate floral designs with glass in them. Glass used in Sheesh Mahal was imported from Belgium in 1623 A.D. The Hamams or the baths are located north of Jas Mandir.
The palace was kept cool in the summer by covering its arched openings with screens woven with the roots of the aromatic grass called Khas. The screens were moistened periodically with water. Air passing through the screens was thus cooled, and carried also the fragrance of the grass into the palace-chambers.
In front of the Sheesh Mahal is a pattered little garden in the classic Mughal pattern called Char-Bag or Four gardens. Facing the Sheesh Mahal is Sukh-Niwas (Pleasure Palace), the Raja's private apartments where he retired to rest.
Latrines, as designed and used till within our living memory are to be found in different parts of the palace. Those are situated between the Sheesh Mahal (Mirror Palace) and the Man Singh Palace and were probably used by the ruler and the royal family. They were supplied with both hot and cold water. Lit torches provided light at night.
The palace has about a hundred such latrines.
Zenani Deohri (Ladies Apartments)
The queen-mothers and the Raja's consorts lived in this part of the palace which also housed their female attendants.
The royal ladies often had estates assigned to them, the management of which was also carried out from here. Some of the ranis (queens) recorded in history were Rani Shringarde Kankawat and Rani Mahadevi Katoch of Kangra, married to Raja Man Singh; and Rani Chandrawat who was married to Mirza Raja Jai Singh.
It was Rani Shringarde Kankawat who had the well-known Jagat Shriromani temple built in Amber in the memory of her son Jagt Singh. Rani Mahadevi Katochh founded the addition of toran gates to the Jagannath temple in Puri, Orissa.
Tunnels are to be found quite commonly in the palaces and forts of the medieval period. They were used to conceal movement or to allow of escape when during a siege the defenders were being pushed hard.
Lying on the western side of the palace, the Amber Palace tunnel connects it to the Jaigarh fort. It is subterraneous till a point near the Rang Mahal. Thereafter, it runs, roofless, on the surface, up to Jaigarh.
The tunnel is accessible from the Man Singh Palace, Zenani Deorhi (Ladies Apartments) and Diwan-E-Khas. Traditional torches (mashaal) provided light in it.
Water Storage Tank of Diwan-E-Aam
Rainwater was collected and stored in the storage tanks in palaces and forts to subsequently meet their daily requirement for it.
There are three such underground storage tanks in the palace located under the Jaleb Chowk, Diwan-E-Aam and the Man Singh Palace. Being stored underground, the water would remain potable for a period longer than usual and evaporation losses were lower.
Tripolia (Three Gates) Gateway
The Tripolia Gate mainly controls access from the west into the palace. It opens in three different directions, hence the name. a passage leads towards the north to Jaleb Chowk and another to the Man Singh Palace and the Zenani Deorhi in the south. The western passage leads out of the palace.
Such gateways were usually constructed at important crossways in palaces in those days.
Chand Pol (Moon Gate)
Chand Pol or the moon gate was the main gate of entry for the commoners.
The upper storey of the gate is called the Naubatkhana. It housed the kettle drums and other musical instruments. Naubat was a type of music which had its own specific protocol that had to be strictly followed when it was played with. The listeners were expected to remain silent. It is believed that the tradition of playing the naubat dates back to the time of Alexander the Great.
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