Amer (or Amber) was once the capital of the Kachhwaha rulers of the state of Dundhar, all of seven hundred years before the city of Jaipur came into existence.
The Amer Fort itself owes its construction to three rulers: Raja Man Singh, Mirza Raja Jai Singh and Sawai Jai Singh- and took a full two centuries to build, much of it having been made in the 1500s. Looking at the splendour of the fortress, one can well imagine why it took so long to complete: it is, to put it simply, exquisite. The citadel rises above the waters of the Maotha Lake, and although a motorable road leads to the main gate of Amer, the touristier alternative is to ride an elephant up to the gate. Once inside, you’ll get the chance to see one of India’s best-preserved medieval citadels, a stunning complex of gardens, temples, pavilions and courtyards. The Amer Fort is, in roughly equal proportions, a pleasure-palace, a former centre of administration and a military stronghold- all worth seeing.
The fort’s first courtyard is a wide expanse, dominated by two buildings- the pillared red sandstone Diwan-e-Aam (the Hall of Public Audience) and the intricately painted double-storeyed Ganesh Pol gate. Beyond these lies a series of pillared corridors, centring around a typical Mughal `charbagh’ garden, bounded on one side by Sukh Niwas and on the other by Jas Mandir, a lovely piece of architecture which combines Rajput and Mughal features: delicate mirror work, stucco, paint and carving (look out, especially, for the exquisitely carved jaalis or screens). The Amer Fort’s pièce de resistance, though, is the exquisite Sheesh Mahal- the Mirror Palace- which is, as you’d imagine, liberally mirrored. Patterned mosaics, coloured glass and mirror decorate the Sheesh Mahal from floor to ceiling, creating a palace of almost unbelievable beauty. Fountains and waterways, gardens and courtyards spread out across the rest of the fort, the ramparts of which actually weave their way into the mountains for miles around.
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