Nahargarh Fort – The Abode of Tigers

21.10.2017:

Without wasting much time, I headed to the Nahargarh Fort, whose previous name was Sudarshangarh Fort! This fort was also a part of the defense system of the Jaipur city and the Amber fort. There are two ways to reach this fort – either by a cobblestone pathway which is about 2 kms downhill and the other is a straight road from the Amber Fort. Unlike the Jaigarh Fort, vehicles are not allowed into this fort, am a bit lucky – otherwise my driver would have definitely taken me around this also in the auto 😀 The first things first – before hitting the main fort itself, we will come across a wax museum and a Sheesh Mahal. Alas, the entry into these is not free and it costs almost around Rs. 500/- to get an entry. Anyways, am not interested in both of these – what am really looking forward is to the architecture of this fort! 🙂

Nahargarh which translates into ‘Abode of Tigers’ was built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II in 1734 and was later extended by king Sawai Ram Singh in 1868. Later, in 1883, Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh built the beautiful Madhavendra Palace for his nine queens. But why the name has been changed from Sudharshangarh to Nahargarh? The legend says that the edifice of this fort was thwarted by the spirit of a Rathore prince named Nahar Singh Bhomia and hence the name Nahargarh and he even dedicated a small fortress inside the fort to the dead prince!

The entry into the fort is through the ‘Tadigate’ and another massive doorway leads us to the main attraction of the fort – the Madhavendra Bhawan or the Madhavendra Palace. The doorway has stunning floral designs on it and is intricately carved! Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh had this palace designed by the architect Vidyadhar Bhattacharya, who also designed a Pink City of Jaipur. The two-storied palace has a long courtyard and there are three suites each on the three sides, making a total of nine identical suites. Each of this suite is uniquely named such as Suraj Prakash, Chandra Prakash etc. Each suite is a double storied building which has a lobby, bedroom, toilet, store and a kitchen. Further all these apartments are connected with each other with a narrow passage and the king’s head suite! 😉

 

The palace was built in Indo-European style of architecture with beautiful frescos and rectangular windows. Though the Amber Fort is rich in architecture, somehow I got more attracted to Nahargarh Fort than the mighty Amber Fort! Perhaps its simplicity, less crowd or its comparatively smaller size made me fall for this monument! 🙂 Moving onto the first floor of the palace, I found some beautiful wall-paintings and richly carved windows. Further onto the terrace, I got a full view of the Jaipur city and the other side of the fort! There is a luxurious restaurant on one side of the fort and if you have your own vehicle, grab a drink and settle down for the magnificent sunset here!

Alas, I don’t have a vehicle, so I have to return early! Might be next time 😦 🙂 Though there is no much grandeur here, I wanted more of this simple yet amazing place 🙂

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Amber Fort – A UNESCO World Heritage Site

21.10.2017:

09.00 hrs – I was on my way to Amber or Amer Fort. The tuk-tuk ride was not bad at all; in fact, am enjoying it! 🙂 Whenever we hear the word Rajasthan – the first thing that comes into our mind would be the courageous Rajputs! It is also simultaneously known for another thing – its hill forts which bears testimony to the power of the Rajput princely states that flourished in the region from 8th to 18th centuries. Can you just imagine that six of Rajasthan’s hill forts have made it to the UNESCO World Heritage List? I got the first glimpse of the mighty structure while I was still some 2 kms far from the magnificent Amer Fort.

Amer Fort is situated in a town called Amer, the old capital of the Kachhwahas, and is located at around 11 km from Jaipur. The fort is set amidst picturesque and rugged Aravali range hills and was constructed during the 16th century. My tuk-tuk was stopped at the pathway that leads to the fort. Just beside the path is an artificial lake called the Maota Lake, whose original name was “Mahatva” and is spread in an area covering around 80 thousand meters. And the pathway is through a beautiful Mughal style garden known as “Kesarkyari Garden” or “Mohan Bari”.

There are two options to go upto the fort from the foothill. Either you can comfortably mount onto an elephant, and the beast would do the climbing for you or simply climb up by yourself 😉 I chose to climb by my own! It’s not a tough climb, but the sultry temperature truly drained my energy out of me 🙂 Though the temperature dropped due to the onset of winter, it was still hot and humid! Lots of Indian and foreign tourists, vendors selling caps, souvenirs, food stuff, and the mighty beasts cutting through the thronging tourists – it was a hell of activity!

After 15 minutes, I was at the main entrance of the fort called the Suraj Pol or Sun Gate as it faces east. This fort was divided into four divisions and each division is called as a courtyard. The Suraj Pol leads us into the courtyard called Jaleb Chowk, which is a huge open ground and was used by the armies to hold their victory parades. The original palace was built by Raja Man Singh and the additional extensions were built by Maharaja Mirza Raja Jai Singh and Sawai Jai Singh II who shifted his capital to Amer in 1727. Here we have to buy a ticket in order to enter the other courtyard and for Indians the ticket costs about Rupees Fifty.

I moved towards another gate called the Singh Pol or the Lion Gate leading to the second courtyard called the Diwan-i-Aam or the Hall of Public Audience. This is the place where the Raja gave audience to his subjects and met his officials. This building was constructed on the orders of Mirza Raja Man Singh in red stone and marble. The striking feature of this structure is the pillars. They support the roof by two rows of columns. The outer ones, in coupled pairs which are of red sand stone and the inner ones are of cream marble.

I moved towards the Ganesh Pol or the Ganesh Gate, which provides access to the inner and private chambers of the palace. Ganesh Pol is an architectural marvel with its exquisitely painted and carved walls. Amber Fort is known world over for its artistic Hindu style architecture influenced by the Mughal architecture. Constructed of red sandstone and marble this massive fort is remarkable for majestic grandeur and is a sight to behold! Just above the Ganesh Pol, is the Suhag Mandir used by the royal ladies to witness the functions held in Diwan-i-Aam.

 

Ganesh Pol leads us to one of the main attractions of the Amber Palace called the Diwan-i-Khas or the Hall of Private Audience. It was constructed during the period of Mirza Raja Jai Singh and was also called as Jai Mandir after him. This is also called the Sheesh Mahal or Glass Palace as the ceiling of this structure was filled up with convex-shaped mirrors. The other prominent structures are the Sukh Niwas (Pleasure Palace), where the king used to retire for sleep, the hexagonal shaped Mughal style garden constructed by Raja Jai Singh I.

 

The last or the fourth courtyard is the Zenani Deorhi or Ladies’ Apartments in which the queen-mothers and the Raja’s consorts lived and it also housed their female attendants. Jas Mandir is the temple where the royal women worship. Architecture lovers, photo enthusiasts and historians – here is something which you should not definitely miss! 😉 Before moving onto the next place, I charged myself up with a glass of iced-tea from the Cafe Coffee Day located in the palace itself which also offers a beautiful view of the town behind it! 🙂