Friday, August 06, 2010

Rajasthan by road - day 2 - Jaipur - Pink City

Today, after breakfast, we left for Amer, about 11 km from Jaipur to visit the Amber Fort.  Towering over the waters of the Maota lake, the fort is one of the major tourist attractions of Rajasthan.  This was the former capital of the ruling clan of Amber, before shifting to present-day Jaipur.

Amber fort is known for its unique artistic style and for the blend of both Hindu and Mughal elements in its architecture.   Just at the palace entrance, there is a narrow staircase leading to the Kali Temple, also known as the Shila Devi Temple.  There is an image of Lord Ganesha on the temple entrance carved entirely from a single piece of coral.  There is also a 50-kg silver drum which is still being used during pujas.
The Palace Complex consists of various sections such as the Sheesh Mahal, Summer apartments, Diwan-e-aam, Diwan-e-Khas, zenana apartments etc.
The Sheesh Mahal has various mirrors of different shapes and sizes encrusted in the walls, pillars, and the ceiling of the complex. It is said that during ancient days, when the royal family resided within this complex, a single candle would be enough to light up the entire complex because of the numerous mirrors present. Also, as the guide explained to us, this complex was used as the winter complex, because the numerous mirrors helped to trap light and heat up the complex.
The summer complex has unique cooling system. The windows are covered with numerous latices.  The  lower section of the windows have larger openings which allow air to come in.  There is a water system which sent the water into the upper part of the windows and as the water dropped from the upper part of the windows, the air coming in from the lower section cooled the water and blew it, cooling the entire complex, thereby acting as an air conditioner!!

The dark panel running along the center of the above photo is the water system.

After spending a couple of hours at the Amber Fort, we went to Jaigarh Fort which is situated on a hill above the Amber Fort. Jaigarh Fort has the world's largest cannon, Jaivana, which required 100 kg of gun powder for a single shot!! There is a moat present in front of the canon, which is filled with water. Legend has it that when the cannon was lit, the sentry had to jump into the moat of water to save himself from becoming deaf due to the booming sound of the cannon.  

Later we visited the City Palace, Jantar Mantar, and the Hawa Mahal.
Hawa Mahal

Jantar Mantar, one of the finest observatories in the world, still in tip-top working condition, was truly  amazing.  It is home to the world's largest sun dial.  Using these instruments, one can determine the time of the day,  the zodiac signs, the rotation of the earth, the location of the north star, the position of the constellations, etc.  A must-visit!!

World's Largest Sun Dial

Birla Laxmi Narayan Mandir and Ganesh Mandir at Moti Dongri are the other places of interest. Moti Doongri, which is said to be a replica of a Scottish castle, lies perched on top of a hillock behind the Birla Temple.  It was home to Maharani Gayathri Devi.

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