The fort palace of Amber was the Kachhawaha citadel until 1727, when their capital moved to Jaipur. Successive rulers continued to come here on important occasions to seek the blessings of the family deity, Shila Devi. The citadel was established in 1592 by Man Singh I on the remains of an old 11th century fort, but the various buildings added by Jain Singh I are what constitute its magnificent centerpiece.
Crowning the crest of a hill, Amber Fort offers a panoramic view of Maota Lake and the historic old town at the base of the hill, which was the early seat of the Amber kings before they made the fort their capital.
The main entrance to the historic Amber Fort is through the imposing Suraj Pol, so called because it faces the direction of the rising sun, the Kachhawaha family emblem. The gate leads into a huge courtyard, Jaleb Chowk, lined on three sides with souvenir and refreshment shops. A flight of steps leads to the Shila Devi Temple, which has silver doors; silver oil lamps, grand pillars carved to look like banana trees, and contain the Kachhawaha family deity, a stone image of the goddess Kali. The next courtyard is the Diwan-i-Aam, the space for public audience. Near it is the Sattais Katcheri, a colonnade of 27 pillars, where scribes once sat to record revenue petitions.
The magnificent Ganesh Pol is the gateway to three pleasure palaces, each with special features, built around a Mughal-style garden, Aram Bagh. Maota Lake, which provided water to the fort, is surrounded by two exquisite gardens. The Kesar Kyari Bagh has start-shaped flower beds once planted with saffron, flowers, while Dilaram Bagh, built in 1568 as a resting place for Akbar on his way to Ajmer, is a clever pun on the name of its architect, Dilaram. A small archeological Museum is located nearby. The farthest and oldest end of the fort was converted into the zenana, with screens and covered balconies for the seclusion of the royal ladies in purdah. Faint traces of frescoes are still visible on the walls. In the centre of the courtyard is a pavilion with 12 pillars, the Baradari.
Spectacularly set within surrounding rugged hills and dotted with majestic architecture, Amber Mahal is one of the best palaces to visit on your trip to Jaipur.
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