August, 2005: In my last job, I attended so many
press conferences that ultimately, I got fed up. But one
such I remember, for I had to go to Jaipur - a fashion
show for the World Gold Council. I stayed at Raj Mahal.
I had a great time and we were treated like celebs.
The best thing I remember was the sightseeing tour we
went on the following morning after landing at 9.30 the
previous night. We went around Jaipur, seeing historical
monuments and went shopping (buying jewellery to be
The best of all was the trip to Amer Fort. We went
right up close to the fort in our luxury bus, but from
below the fort, we went up in a jeep. I had once before
come here and gone up to the fort on the elephant's
back; I did not want to experience that ride again.
by the Aravali range covered in scrub and trees, this
massive fort has been built over many years across the
15th and 16th century, a bastion complete with pavilions
and palaces looking down on the city of Jaipur. It gives
a bird's eye view of the entire city.
It was the capital of the Kachhwaha rulers for 700
years, till Jaipur was built. Constructed by three
successive rulers Raja Man Singh, Mirza Raja Jai Singh
and Sawai Jai Singh, it took full two centuries to
build, much of it in the 1500s. The fort rises above the
waters of the Maotha Lake. The Kesar Kyari (saffron
garden) lies in the centre of this lake. This fort was a
pleasure-palace, a centre of administration and a
You enter the premises and see the elephants, the
Rajasthan Tourism office and the ticket counter close to
a Charbagh called the Dil-e-Aaram Garden, laid out in
traditional Mughal style. Buy your tickets from a
counter on the right and climb the stairs you will pass
the elegant temple of Shila Mata is situated inside the
palace complex on the first flight with its silver doors
and marble carvings. The image is of Kali Mata, brought
in from Jessore, Lower Bengal (now in Bangladesh) by
Raja Man Singh. It draws thousands of devotee’s
everyday and on religious occasions for the Goddess’
the second flight you will enter the first courtyard,
which is a wide expanse and is dominated by two
buildings. The pillared red sandstone Diwan-e-Aam (the
Hall of Public Audience) sitting besides it you can look
down at a sheer drop of over a 200 ft. And on the right
rising gracefully is the intricately painted
double-storied Ganesh Pol (gate). On the outside massive
painted scenes of hunting and war adorn the walls with
precious stones and mirrors set into the plaster. The
Jai Mandir - Temple of victory is perched on the upper
floor of the Ganesh pol.
Entering the pol you will find a series of pillared
corridors, centring around a typical Mughal Charbagh
garden with Sukh Niwas on one side and Jas Mandir on the
other. Sukh Niwas (hall of pleasure) has a door made of
sandalwood, inlaid with ivory. It also has a channel
running through, which formerly carried water that acted
as an air cooler.
A lovely piece of architecture combining Rajput and
Mughal features such as delicate mirror work, stucco,
paint and carving and exquisitely carved jaalis
(screens). The most beautiful building is the exquisite
Sheesh Mahal- the Mirror Palace- covered liberally in
mirrors, patterned mosaics, coloured glass from floor to
ceiling. The room’s lights up with even a small
matchstick, that reflects of the mirrors giving a feel
of a thousand stars glittering in the room.
the entire fort there are fountains, waterways, gardens
and courtyards. The ramparts actually go through the
mountains for miles. The fort has narrow passages,
staircases, ramps and high walls that cannot be easily
scaled and windows at the highest levels. The interiors
also have small corridors just two feet wide at a slant,
leading from one room to the next – kitchen, puja
room, weapons room, queen’s chambers covered in jails
from where they could watch the proceedings of the court
The guide gave us quite a spool as to how the raja
built the chambers of his concubines in such a way that
the queen would never know which one he was visiting. So
the queen could never be jealous.
There is use of alabaster pillars and panels with fine
inlay work -- the kind of craftsmanship for which Jaipur
is famous. Typical of the Mughul period, the rooms are
small and intimate, whereas the palace's successive
courtyards and narrow passages are characteristically
From the Charbagh garden look at the breathtaking view
of the valley, the palace courtyards, the formal gardens
adjacent to the octagonal pool next to the lake. The
vast Jaigarh Fort, the ancient fortress on the crest of
the hill above you with the cannons lying silent today.
Exit the palace by the gate near the temple, and just a
few minutes down the road is the 450-year-old Jagat
Shiromani temple. Dedicated to Krishna, this exquisitely
carved marble-and-sandstone temple was built by Raja Man
Singh I in memory of his son.
How to get there
Amber fort and palace is a 10-minute steep climb through
Jai pol (Gate of Victory), 11 km from Jaipur on the
Delhi-Jaipur road. Facilities available for an elephant
back ride or a jeep ride up to Amber fort.
Air: Jaipur is well connected to Delhi, Mumbai, Udaipur,
Jodhpur, Aurangabad, Calcutta and Varanasi.
Rail: The train service to Jaipur is available from all
the major parts of the country.
Road: Jaipur can be accessed from all the major places
in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Delhi and Mumbai by bus.
Where to stay
Visitors to Jaipur can chose from luxurious palace
hotels and deluxe modern hotels to modest three-star
ones, economical lodges, guest houses and tourist
hostels run by government agencies. The Rajasthan
Tourism Development Corporation can also arrange for
home stays for those visitors who would like to stay
with local families.
When to visit: The best time to visit Jaipur is between
September and March.
BY HARPREET KAUR