The next place we were going to visit was the Amber Fort (also known as the Amer Fort). This decision was made by the rickshaw driver. Both of us were hungry but we knew that if we took a break now – we would miss the rest of the sight-seeing. That did not appeal to us and so, off we went. I was glad to see that the roads were not very well-maintained. Most of my north Indian friends insist that Northern India is by far well-maintained, great roads etc. Well, I was glad to see that it was not all true!
This was our first view of Amer Fort or Amber Fort – it was a warm, sunny day, a little after regular lunch time but the effect was fantastic. We asked the rickshaw wallah to stop so we could enjoy the moment. The sight of the fort overlooking the lake seemed so calm, so soothing. The rickshaw wallah quickly offered to take a snap of us against the background of the fort. Though it was not a great snap – I will forever remember that moment as we stood staring awe-struck at the beautiful fort. We were now ready to visit it.
Instead of taking the regular entrance, our rickshaw wallah took us around the fort to a side-entrance where he parked the rickshaw. He found us a guide and told us that he would wait for us here. The guide was a regular. He was not Dev Anand but he was a pleasant old man and quite serious ’bout his job. A greater contrast to our guide from Fatehpur Sikri cannot be imagined. We never got to introduce ourselves. He was off full-speed towards the zillion steps that was part of the side entrance. Fitness is a habit was all I could think of after huffing and puffing all the way. I was out of breath and so was the Arien but he pretended he was waiting for me (Isn’t that mean?) at all strategic break areas. A snap of our guide with his favorite serious expression.
As a result of entering the fort via a side-entrance, we faced the Baradari pavilion first. We had no clue at that time, though. It looked a lot like the Lotus Mahal at Hampi, here. Jes goes to show that there was abundant mughal influence, not just in North India. There was some kind of renovation work going on and so we moved on ahead. We were also asked not to step inside the bharadari. The angle frm which the Arien has taken this snap does not show you the facade on the side.
We moved towards Ganesh Pol or the main entrance. This is a rather fantastic, well-decorated entrance which provides an amazing photo-op and naturally the Arien would not let that pass. So, after taking a few shots of Ganesh pol, of ourselves in front of Ganesh Pol, various wide-angle, and close-up shots, we went inside. The guide did not show even a hint of impatience while I think I was quite impatient 😀
Anyway, we moved on. We saw the Sila Devi temple, where most folks were praying, and did not stop to take pictures. We moved to a grand garden, which had buildings on both sides. It was slightly cooler there and a nice breeze was in the air – I really wanted to spend some time here but the Arien was impatient this time. We were facing the Sheesh mahal. The Arien has taken so many pictures of the Sheesh mahal from various locations and it is quite difficult to identify that the image is of the same building. It was beautiful and we walked all around so we could actually spend some time in the Sheesh mahal. The guide pointed to a lot of coloured impressions on the wall and said that it originally contained precious stones and now what is left is only the colour – somehow that did not seem believable. After you see the picture on the left, you will probably feel the same. There was some amount of renovation taking place and we were not allowed to enter certain sections of the Sheesh Mahal. However, tourists being who they are, tried to sneak in, take pictures of themselves against the backdrop of the forbidden section of the Mahal and then were rudely pulled out by the few security guards. It was funny – watching the entire scene play out.
The Amber fort itself consisted of various entrances, exits, different routes to the same place. If we did not have the guide, I am sure we would get lost. Also, we would not know which building was important and why. I was really thankful to the rickshaw wallah because of whom we had a guide. After taking about a zillion pictures, the Arien was ready to leave. I was sure that he was hungry by now. It was almost 4 and we were nowhere near a resturant. The guide showed us the Nahargarh Fort which he had visited yesterday. I took a great picture of the Arien against the Nahargarh Fort which he was unable to replicate. That bugged him a lot 🙂 He is known as the photographer in the family and so my fluke shot put him in a grumpy mood. We walked back via a different route, which was near the main entrance. The main entrance is known as the Sing Pol or Lion Gate. Most tourists come up on elephants and made a grand entrance. I wished we had done the same 😦 The Arien told me that we could have done that if we had left earlier. (Has not forgotten our delay in leaving the hotel.. Grrr!) Anyway, I decided to take a snap of the entrance and the tourist entry just to satisfy myself.
We saw the Maota lake and garden island from the Zenana in the Amer fort. It was dirty. There was green coloured discoloration on the lake and the Arien refused to take a snap of the lake. Finally, after a lot of cajoling, he took the picture and included the green mess 😦 I am including the picture here so you can judge for yourself if I am exaggerating.
It felt like we spent an entire day here – but in actuality, we spent only a few hours at the Amber fort. But, the time was well-spent and we enjoyed every minute of it. Now, the Arien was hungry and we had to leave immediately. Anyway, we thanked the guide for his service and gave him a handsome tip. For once, he had a different expression – a smile 🙂 We walked back to the place where the rickshaw wallah had dropped us off. The Arien walked into the first restuarant we saw without signalling to our rickshaw wallah, to have a late lunch. It was ~5 pm. After a nice lunch – we felt re-energized and ready to continue with our sight-seeing.