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 ๐Ÿ˜€ 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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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! ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

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! ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ˜ฆ ๐Ÿ™‚ Though there is no much grandeur here, I wanted more of this simple yet amazing place ๐Ÿ™‚

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The military fort of Jaipur – Jaigarh fort

21.10.2017:

Completing the tour of Amber Fort, I headed to complete this circuit by visiting the other two magnificent forts nearby – the Jaigharh Fort and Nahargarh Fort! It was almost 11.30 hrs, but I felt as if I was burning down under the mid-day summer sun! Climbing down the pathway, I headed to hire a auto-rickshaw to Nahargarh Fort and after a hard bargain, the auto-wallah fixed up the cost at Rs. 450/- to take me to Jaigarh Fort and then to Nahargarh and drop me down at the Jal Mahal. Jaigarh Fort and Nahargarh Fort which are situated in the Aravali hills were built in order to protect the Amber Fort.

It was a straight circuitous road to Jaigarh Fort from the Amber Fort and is situated on a hill called Cheel ka Teela or the Hill of Eagles, which is 400 feet above the Amber Fort. The route offers a spectacular view of the Jaipur city and importantly the Jal Mahal! I was lucky enough as I could see good number of peacocks and peahens running around the shrubs and bushes on the side of the road. My driver showed me few well constructed canals all along the road and explained me that these were used to route the rain water to Jaigarh Fort where it would be harvested for further use! Brilliant!!

The Jaigarh Fort was built by Sawai Jai Singh II and has a length of 3 km and width of 1 km.ย  The fort faces Amber Fort and Maota Lake. There is an option of taking our vehicles straight into the fort through the Doongar Darwaza by paying an extra parking fee for the vehicle or one can simply buy a ticket for oneself and go walking around the fort. There is also an entrance to this fort through the Awani Darwaza in the east. But I opted the Doongar Darwaza ๐Ÿ™‚ It was packed with a lot of vehicles today and it took us almost 20 minutes to reach the parking lot which is just 500 mts from the Doongar Darwaza. On the way I saw those huge underground tanks where the rainwater through the canals used to get stored!

The fort is not as artistic as the Amber Fort, yet it has it’s own charm. The walls of the fort are massive and are made up of red sandstone. Once to the parking lot, I started walking towards the centre of attraction of this fort – that’s the world’s largest cannon on wheels in the world – Jaivan! With Jaivan, I had no doubt why Jaigarh Fort served as the protective wall of Jaipur and Amber Fort! Jaigarh Fort served as the centre of artillery production for the Rajputs and it is here in this very fort the Jaivan was made in 1720! It was here – right infront of me; perhaps the largest cannon I have seen so far!

Jaivan was developed during the reign of Sawai Jai Singh II. It’s a massive cannon with a weight of about 50 tonnes and a barrel of about 6.15 m! It is said that this had been fired only once to test it’s range with ammunition of around 100 kg and it’s impact was such that the person who fired this succumbed to death before jumping into the water tank itself! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Any guesses about the range? ๐Ÿ˜‰ It’s around 38 kms! Would any enemy ever dare to attack this strong defence system? I doubt! :-p . From here we can see the Indian flag fluttering on top of the Diva Burj – the highest point in Jaigarh Fort and also the Jal Mahal in middle of the Man Sagar Lake.

Next is another interesting part of this fort called the Vijay Garh – the fort’s armory where there were a lot of cannon balls, small and medium canons, various kinds of guns, arrows and bows were on display for the tourists. There are also pictures of Maharajas and other Generals from Indian Army. Perhaps, Jaigarh Fort is one of the few military structures of medieval India preserved almost intact! Further walking would lead us into the Shubat Niwas (Assembly hall for Warriors). We can also see the royal halls and court rooms which include the Aram Mandir and Vilas Mandir.

Though the fort is relatively a smaller one in comparison to the Amber Fort, it gives us an insight of the military strategies and weapons of the ferocious Rajputs! There are also two temples in the fort complex – the Ram Harihar temple built in the 10th century and the Kal Bhairav temple constructed in the 12th century. Don’t forget to seek their blessings before stepping out of this spectacular fort ๐Ÿ™‚

Amber Fort – A UNESCO World Heritage Site

21.10.2017:

09.00 hrs โ€“ I was on my way to Amber or Amer Fort. The tuk-tuk ride was not bad at all; in fact, am enjoying it! ๐Ÿ™‚ Whenever we hear the word Rajasthan โ€“ the first thing that comes into our mind would be the courageous Rajputs! It is also simultaneously known for another thing โ€“ 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 Rajasthanโ€™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 โ€œMahatvaโ€ and is spread in an area covering around 80 thousand meters. And the pathway is through a beautiful Mughal style garden known as โ€œKesarkyari Gardenโ€ or โ€œMohan Bariโ€.

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰ I chose to climb by my own! Itโ€™s not a tough climb, but the sultry temperature truly drained my energy out of me ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 Ladiesโ€™ Apartments in which the queen-mothers and the Rajaโ€™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 โ€“ here is something which you should not definitely miss! ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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! ๐Ÿ™‚