Rajasthan! The land of kings and palaces. The state’s capital—the pink city of Jaipur is no exception. The stories of powerful kings, beautiful queens, huge palaces, great warriors, fierce battles all filled in this beautiful city of Jaipur. 

Like the crown on the emperor’s head, the Amer fort stands majestically on the Cheel ka Teela or the hill of eagles. With the Maota Lake at the foot of the hill reflecting its majestic scale and grandeur, Amer fort never fails to impress even the stout hater of history! 

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Amer fort with Maota lake ©www.wikipedia.org

Planning and Layout

The fort is an outstanding example of Rajputana architecture, with beautiful integration of Hindu and Islamic styles. It is constructed using red, cream, and white sandstone. The obvious reason for choosing the top of the hill as the strategic location for the Amer fort would be security from invaders and enemies constantly trying to attack and lay siege on the empire. 

Perched atop the hill, its inhabitants can easily spot suspicious activities around the fort and be prepared for attacks or intrusions from the enemy’s armies. The palace complex is built in sections, with four courtyards—each of them distinct from the other and serving different purposes. The palace is accessed by a long flight of steps laid out in stone—with numerous dog-legged turns.

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Up the hill ©Sahana M Swamy

The public spaces

The entry to the palace happens through the Suraj Pol, the main gate, which opens out into the first courtyard—the Jaleb Chowk. It is a magnanimous courtyard where the army would be heralded with great pomp and show, after their victorious return from the battlefield. 

The women could also witness this grandeur through the latticework screened, four centered arched windows on the first floor of the buildings surrounding the courtyard. It also houses the elephant and horse stables and the mahout quarters towards its northern side.

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Suraj Pol ©www.commons.wikimedia.org
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Jaleb chowk Panoramic view ©Sahana M Swamy

Again, a short flight of steps leads to a higher level and the second courtyard of the Amer fort. This courtyard houses the Diwan-i-Aam-the hall of the public audience and the famous Ganesh Pol. The Ganesh Pol, a three-storeyed structure, is extensively ornamented with precious stones and beautiful inlay work. It houses the Suhag Mandir on the third floor, for the womenfolk of the fort to watch the proceedings in the hall of the public audience.

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Ganesh Pol ©www.wikipedia.org
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Hall of the Public Audience ©Sahana M Swamy

The transition

The third courtyard of the Amer fort is accessed through the Ganesh Pol. This courtyard is particularly calmer than the previous two. The transition from public to semi-private space is beautifully executed by the skillful architects and planners of that era. The journey is smooth and flawless. This courtyard includes the Sheesh Mahal, Diwan-i-Khas, and the Sukh Niwas. 

The Sheesh Mahal or the palace of mirrors is elaborately inlaid with mirrors, various precious and semi-precious stones. The walls and ceiling are adorned with carvings of beautiful paintings and flowers. If a couple of candles are lit in the mahal, the light gets reflected multiple times and is converted into numerous stars. 

Also, The ceiling mirror glass reflection of the candles kept the room warm during the chilly winters of Rajasthan. In the 18th century, this was definitely one of the many milestones in the architectural history of India.

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Sheesh Mahal ©www.pinterest.com
Amer Fort, Jaipur Crown of Jaipur - Sheet
Sheesh Mahal Ceiling ©Sahana M Swamy

Opposite the palace of mirrors is the Jas Mandir, the hall of private audience. The two buildings are separated by a beautiful garden, involving Mughal landscaping principles and concepts.

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Jas mahal ©www.flickr.com

The Sukh Niwas is the hall of pleasure, accessed by a sandalwood door. It has low height openings so that hot air, which is generally at a higher level than the cool air, does not enter the inner chambers, thus keeping it cool during the scorching summers. It also has a water pipe system flowing through an open channel, to reduce the interior temperature. 

The architecture system of every structure involves a meticulous understanding of the requirements of the local climate and offers effective solutions for the same.

The private quarters

The fourth and the final courtyard houses the Zenana—the women’s quarters, and the palace of Raja Man Singh I. This courtyard was the least visited and most private of all the fours in Amer fort. The zenana was a community in itself with all amenities and requirements of the womenfolk (Royal consorts, queen mothers, mistresses, and servants) fulfilled with utmost care. It had several rooms with many balconies. 

The small pavilion at the center of the courtyard was used by the royal women of high ranking to hold meetings. It would be covered with curtains hung using huge iron rings to maintain privacy.

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The Fourth Courtyard ©www.tripoto.com

Amalgamation with the city fabric

Amer fort stands as a prototype for the entire city of Jaipur. Its high altitude helps it act as the major landmark of the city. The bazaars, markets, houses, public spaces—every single aspect of Jaipur has the same fabric and showcases a sense of unity. The urban fabric maintains the old-school charm and the rich history of the land of kings. 

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 The Fourth Courtyard ©www.tripoto.com

The city has maintained the same charm and uniqueness despite the regular heavy flow of tourists from all over the world. Amer fort stands, proudly exhibiting the sneak-peak of the grandness and royalty of the bygone era to the tourists and the locals alike.

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A bird’s eye view ©www.detectview.com

 

Author

Sahana M Swamy is a third year architecture student at BMS College of Architecture, Bangalore. Besides art and architecture, Sahana loves history, movies, acting and photography. She believes that writing helps to de-stress and re-discover oneself.

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