Amber Fort lies in the town of Amer, 11 kms from Jaipur. Located on the hillock facing the Maoti Lake, the architectural splendor dates back to 16th Century. The fort was built by Raja Man Singh of the Kachwaha clan. The king was the trusted army general of Mughal Empire and one of the Navratans of Emperor Akbar. Built of red sandstone and marble, Amber Fort is inspired from Rajput and Mughal architectures.

The spectacular attractions of the Fort are the beautiful Sheesh Mahal made purely of glass and the Diwan-I-Am and Diwan-I-Khas, ornate halls with impressive artwork. The Sukh Niwas, the Sheela Mata Temple and Kyaris are other delights. To make the experience cherished, do not miss the Light and Sound Show at sunset.

Early History = The settlement at Amer was founded by Raja Alan Singh, a ruler from the Chanda clan of Meenas in 967 CE.The Amer Fort, as it stands now, was built over the remnants of this earlier structure during the reign of Raja Man Singh, the Kachwaha King of Amer.The structure was fully expanded by his descendant, Jai Singh I. Even later, Amer Fort underwent improvements and additions by successive rulers over the next 150 years, until the Kachwahas shifted their capital to Jaipur during the time of Sawai Jai Singh II, in 1727.

Layout = The Palace is divided into six separate but main sections each with its own entry gate and courtyard. The main entry is through the Suraj Pol (Sun Gate) which leads to the first main courtyard. This was the place where armies would hold victory parades with their war bounty on their return from battles, which were also witnessed by the Royal family's womenfolk through the latticed windows.

This gate was built exclusively and was provided with guards as it was the main entry into the palace. It faced east towards the rising sun, hence the name “Royal cavalcades” and dignitaries entered the palace through this gate.

Jaleb Chowk is an Arabic phrase meaning a place for soldiers to assemble. This is one of the four courtyards of Amer Palace, which was built during Sawai Jai Singh's reign (1693–1743 AD). Maharaja's personal bodyguards held parades here under the command of the army commander or Fauj Bakshi. Adjacent to the courtyard were the horse stables, with the upper- level rooms occupied by the guards.

Garden = The garden, located between the Jai Mandir on the east and the Sukh Niwas on the west, both built on high platforms in the third courtyard, was built by Mirza Raja Jai Singh (1623–68). It is patterned on the lines of the Chahar Bagh or Mughal Garden. It is in a sunken bed, shaped in a hexagonal design. It is laid out with narrow channels lined with marble around a star- shaped pool with a fountain at the center. Water for the garden flows in cascades through channels from the Sukh Niwas and also from the cascade channels called the "chini khana niches" that originate on the terrace of the Jai Mandir.

[Author is Akash Sharma, DAA 3 RD year student at Lovely School of Architecture and Design, Lovely Professional University, PUNJAB]

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