AMER – The old capital of the Kachhwahas stands atop a range of craggy hills. The fort is remarkable as much for the majestic grandeur of its surroundings as for its sturdy battlements and beautiful palaces. Just 11 kms from Jaipur, Amber fort is a splendid fort constructed in a scenic locale. Being a perfect blend of Hindu and Muslim architecture, this fort attracts travellers from around the globe. Built in 16 the century by Raja Man Singh, It is among the best hilltop forts in India. The solemn dignity of its red sandstone and white marble pavilions, when reflected in the lake at the foot hill, is a sight to behold.
The palace complex is lavishly ornamented and displays the riches of Amer. Sheesh Mahal chamber of Mirrors. Diwan-e-Am or the Hall of Public Audience is a beautifully proportioned hall open on three sides and stands on two rows of ornamented pillars. Diwan e-Khas or the Hall of Private Audience has delicate mosaic work in glass. Sukh mandir is guarded by sandalwood doors inlaid with ivory. Throughout the massive fort finely carved lattice windows, exquisitely painted doorways, halls and finely sculptured pillars crave for attention.
The sprawling Amber Fort is a typical example of what the lives of our gallant Rajputs Kings were like – adventurous, temperamental and also self-indulgent. . Within the stern exteriors that seem to grow out of the rugged hills are mighty gates, temples, huge ornate halls, palaces, pavilions, gardens and even a ramp to take you to the hilltop palace!
And guess who climbs the ramp? Elephants. Yes, beautifully- caparisoned elephants go up and down carrying visitors to and fro. These well cladded elephants make a joyride to Amber fort and in turn makes your travel to Amber fort a fascinating experience. This some thing which you cannot afford to miss in any Rajasthan itinerary.
Palace of winds – built in 1799, by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh, is the most recognizable monument of Jaipur. The 5 storied, 15 metres high, stunning semi-octagonal monument having 152 windows with over hanging latticed balconies is a fine piece of Rajput architecture. It is a high screen wall , originally designed for the royal ladies to watch and enjoy the processions and other activities, on the street below while unseen from the outside. It is made in the form of the crown of Krishna, the Hindu god. Its unique five-storey exterior is akin to the honeycomb of a beehive with its 953 small windows called jharokhas decorated with intricate latticework. The lattice also allows cool air through the intricate pattern, air conditioning the whole area during the high temperatures in summers.
Next to the renowned Hawa Mahal, City Palace forms one of the most famous tourist attractions and a major landmark in Jaipur. Among the various forts and palaces of Jaipur, City Palace stands apart, with its outstanding art and architecture. City Palace complex covers a huge area, which is divided into a series of gardens, courtyards and buildings. The beautiful palace was built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II between 1729 to 1732 , the ruler of Amber city. Initially, he ruled from his capital at Amber, which lies at a distance of 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) from Jaipur. He shifted his capital from Amber to Jaipur in 1727 because of an increase in population and increasing water shortage.
The additional grand buildings were constructed later by the succeeding rulers. A part of the exquisite Palace still makes home for the former Maharaja/ King. The premises consists several buildings like Chandra Mahal, Mubarak Mahal, Mukut Mahal, Maharani’s Palace, Shri Govind Dev Temple and the City Palace Museum. The City Palace is a structure of historical importance and a souvenir of the regal past. The palace, with its royal grace stands as a symbol of magnificence.
Among the notable things in the palace there are two huge sterling silver vessels of 1.6 metres (5.2 feet) height and each with capacity of 4000 litres and weighing 340 kilograms (750 lb), on display here. They were made from 14000 melted silver coins without soldering. They are officially recorded by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest sterling silver vessels. These vessels were specially made by Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh II, who was a highly pious Hindu, to carry the water of the Ganges to drink on his trip to England in 1901 (for Edward VII’s coronation) as he used to drink only the water of the river Ganges in India.
The wonderful architecture of this Palace with delicate paintings, mirror work on walls and floral decorations, makes it a “must-see” for every visitor.
JANTAR MANTAR (Observatory)
The word jantar means (“instrument”), and mantar means (“formula”, or in this context “calculation”). Therefore jantar mantar means ‘calculation instrument’. The Jantar Mantar is a collection of architectural astronomical instruments, built in 18th century by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II. He had constructed a total of five such Observatory at different locations, including the ones at Delhi and Jaipur. The Jaipur observatory is the largest and best preserved of these. It has been inscribed on the World Heritage List as “an expression of the astronomical skills and cosmological concepts.
The huge masonry instruments were used to study the movement of constellations and stars in the sky. The observatory consists of fourteen major geometric devices, made up of local stone and marble for measuring time, predicting eclipses, tracking stars’ location as the earth orbits around the sun, ascertaining the declinations of planets, and determining the celestial altitudes and related ephemerides. Each is a fixed and ‘focused’ tool. The Samrat Yantra ( Sun Dial), the world’s largest sundials, is 27 meters/ 89 feet tall and its shadow carefully plotted to tell the time of day to an accuracy of about two seconds in Jaipur local time. Each instrument carries an astronomical scale, generally marked on the marble inner lining. Bronze tablets, all extraordinarily accurate, were also employed.
Thoroughly restored in 1901, the Jantar Mantar was declared a national monument in 1948.
Jal Mahal meaning “The Water Palace” is a palace located in the middle of the Man Sagar Lake in Jaipur city. The palace and the lake around it were renovated and enlarged in the 18th century by Maharaja Jai Singh II of Amber . The palaceis situated to the north of Jaipur city in Man Sagar Lake between Amber, the historic city and Jaipur. Jal Mahal Palace is an architectural beauty and was meant to be used for the royal duck shooting parties. Developed as an enjoyment spot, it is entered through a causeway situated in the middle of Man Sagar Lake.
Jal Mahal of Jaipur, is a five-story palace, with the first four floors being submerged under water. The Nahargarh Fort situated nearby offers a splendid view of the lake as well as the palace. The Man Sagar Lake is also a bird watcher’s paradise as it serves as the home of a variety of local as well as migratory birds. The lake was created by constructing a dam across the Darbhawati River, between Khilagarh hills and the hilly areas of Nahargarh, in the 16th century. The palace and the lake around it were renovated and enlarged in the 18th century by Maharaja Jai Singh II of Amber Opposite the palace are the cenotaphs of the royal family. It is not possible to visit the Jal Mahal Palace but you can have beautiful views from the side of the lake.
Standing on a hilltop 12 kms from Jaipur, overlooking the palaces and city of Amber, the world’s biggest cannon on wheels- The Jai Ban ( Jaivan) is positioned here, built during reign of Maharaja Sawai Jaisingh. The Big cannon ( JaiVan- 1720 ) was manufactured in the fort precincts and was then the world’s largest cannon on wheels. It has a 20 feet long barrel and is mounted on wheels and has the mechanism of two back wheels mounted on roller pin bearings, to turn it 360° and fire in any direction. The cannon had a range of 22 miles and used 50 kilograms (110 lb) balls pumped in the cannon for a single shot.
The fort offers the amazing view of the Amber city below. Jaigarh Fort and Amber Fort are connected by subterranean passages. The fort is situated on the promontory called the Cheel ka Teela (Hill of Eagles) of the Aravalli range; it overlooks the Amber Fort and the Maota Lake. The fort was built by Jai Singh II in 1726 to protect the Amber Fort and its palace complex and was named after him. There is the armory and the museum in the fort. The armory has many swords, shields, guns, muskets and even a 50 kg cannon ball. One can also see old photographs of two of Jaipur’s Maharajas, Sawai Bhawani Singh and Major General Man Singh II, both of whom were senior officers in the military (Indian Army). The Museum has many photographs, of Maharajas, royalty, buildings and processions and even a circular pack of cards besides many other relics of the past.
The Fort stands at the top of rugged point of the Aravali hills and offers a spectacular view of the City. The term “Nahargarh” refers to “the Abode of Tigers”, so it is also known as the Tiger Fort. The Fort was constructed mainly in 1734, however further additions were made to it, by the succeeding rulers in the 19th century. There are numerous buildings situated inside the Nahargarh Fort and amongst them, Madhavendra Bhawan appeals the most. It has a series of interconnected rooms with colorful corridors and hallways.
The major attraction of the Fort is that, it provides an eye catching view of the Man Sagar Lake and the suburbs including Jaipur. The geometrically designed Nahargarh Fort looks at its best in the night, when it is dazzlingly lit. Nahargarh Fort forms a remarkable backdrop of Jaipur and offers a glittering view of the city lights. Nahargarh Fort stands as a symbol of the Royal heritage and speaks of its majestic past. A visit to this fort will definitely make your trip, a memorable one.
Albert Hall Museum
One of the oldest and the most famous Museum is the Government Central Museum or Albert museum. The graceful building is named after King Edward VII (Albert Edward), during whose visit to the foundation stone was laid on 6 February 1876. It was designed and constructed under the supervision of a British Army officer, Lt. Swinton Jacob. It was opened as public museum in 1887. It is also called the Government Central Museum. Maharaja Ram Singh initially wanted this building to be a town hall, but his successor, Madho Singh II, decided it should be a museum for the art of Jaipur and included as part of the new Ram Nivas Garden and is the oldest museum in Rajasthan.
The Central Museum has a huge collection of portraits of royalty and Jaipur Maharajas, an extensive collection of jewelry, metalwork and sculpture, miniature paintings from the area, fine specimens of woodwork, metal objects and other arts & crafts, which display the skills of the expert hands that have hammered and chiseled them to perfection. One can also see the old traditional ceremonial dresses of the Kings and the royal families.
Laxmi Narayan Temple
Birla Temple forms one of the major attractions of Jaipur. Birla Temple of Jaipur looks stunning, when it is brightly lit in the night. Birla Mandir, in pure white marble, dominates the skyline of southern part of Jaipur. The enormous temple was built during the year 1988. The Laxmi Narayan Mandir (Birla temple) is a modern architectural marvel, surrounded by lush green gardens. The fascinating exteriors of the temple are carved splendidly with beautiful sculptures based of mythological themes, while the interiors have a large marble panel portraying mythological events.
Ranthambore National Park
Ranthambore National Park ( Game Sanctuary) is one of the largest and most famous Tiger parks in North India. It is situated in between the Vindhya and Aravali range of hills in Sawai Madhopur district of southeastern Rajasthan, about 145 km south east from Jaipur and 400 kms south of Delhi.
Ranthambore wildlife sanctuary is famous for its tigers and is one of the best places in India to see these majestic predators in the jungle. Tigers can be easily spotted even during the day Time.
Ranthambore national park was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1957 and in 1974 it gained the protection of “Project Tiger”. It got it’s status of a National Park in 1981. The park has been divided in four different zones and there are several lakes in the park. It is named after the historic Ranthambhore fortress, which lies within the national park. The park covers an area of 392 km. The major wild animals include the tiger,leopard, nilgai ( blue bull) , wild boar , sambar , hyena, sloth bear , black buck and crocodiels. It is also the home to wide variety of trees, plants, birds and reptiles. Ranthambore is also the site for one of the largest banyan trees in India.
Major Attractions of the Park
Tigers: The Park is one of the best national parks in the country to spot a tiger. This majestic predator can be spotted ambling or basking under the sun here. According to non-government sources the number of tigers in the Ranthambhore National Park were 34 in the year 2008. In 2008, more than 14 tiger cubs were also recorded.
Ranthambore Fort: The majestic fort, built in 10th-century, towers over the entire park area. It stands at a height of 700 feet above the surrounding plain. Inside the fort, there are three red Karauli stone temples devoted to Ganesh,Shiva and Ramlalaji. The temples were constructed in 12th and 13th centuries.
Padam Talao: This is the largest of the all the lakes located inside the park, and the beautiful red sandstone Jogi Mahal is located at the very edge of this lake. A gigantic banyan tree, considered to be India’s second largest, is near the lake.
Best time to visit The Park
Visitor can visit the park using small jeeps or mini trucks ( depends on the availability) accompanied by a natulaist guide provided by the park Authority. The Best Time to Visit Ranthambore National park will be from 1st October to 30 June. Rest of the in the monsoon months park is closed for the visitors. Park opens only in the early morning hours ( 6:00 A.M to 10:00 A.M ) and late afternoon hours( 2:30 P.M to 06:30 P.M) for the visitors.
The Ranthambore National park remain close from 01st July to 30th September, every year.
How to reach Rantambore National Park
By Road : A good network of buses connect Sawai Madhopur, the nearest town from Ranthambore national park- to all the major cities within the state of Rajasthan. Jaipur 145 kms- the capital of Rajasthan, Agra is 240 kms, Delhi is 400 kms from the Ranthambore National park.
By Rail : Ranthambore National Park is around 11 km away from Sawai Madhopur which is the nearest town and railway station to the park.
By Air : Jaipur at 145 km is the nearest airport from Ranthambore wildlife sanctuary.