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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Inside the Walls of Amer Fort in Jaipur, Rajasthan


During the height of the Mughal Empire, the invasion of kingdoms are so commonplace, that the Maharaja rulers and their followers defended their own domains madly and as hard as the fortified walls of Forts all over Rajasthan. Amer Fort is one of them. Rising over a scenic lake overlooking a town inhabited many centuries ago by the Meenas before it was taken over by the Kachwahas - in an act termed "as most coward and shameful in history of Rajasthan", The Fort now stands as mightily as ever. Magnificent at its best and architecturally mind-blowing. 

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Listening to the 500 Rupee audio guide offered me some tidbits about the rich history of Amer Fort. I figured I could Google everything anyway, so I took off the earphone and concentrated visually on the imposing structures of Amer Fort. Standing across the Maota lake earlier, and staring at the mammoth walls of the Fort, I could have conceded that only an act of rabid aggression buoyed by thousands of courageous warriors or a Trojan Horse-que method could penetrate the seemingly impenetrable walls of Amer Fort.

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All existing parts of the Fort was built in 1592 with additional temples and pockets of palaces being added in the intervening decades. Leading up to the entrance of the Fort, I walked a few hundred meters to an elevated path surrounded by five to six feet walls that stretches out to the neighboring hills making it appear as a shortened version of the Great Wall of China. 


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Inside, a large Courtyard greets you with only the surrounding hillside peaks reminding you of the outside world. Not soon after I directed my eyes at the Ganesh Pol entrance where a group of photographers were taking pictures of a female Indian model dressed up as a Maharani (term for the wife of the Maharaja)

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After entering the Ganesh Pol, I went into a dizzying giant maze-like route consisting of stairways and narrow alleyways leading to ancient private baths, small rooms, temples, and palaces. It was here that I and Aileen got separated as she ventured to follow a group of elephants being paraded inside. 

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The Fort was so huge I ended up on some parts by my lonesome. Driven by curiosity I entered small rooms leading to other small passageways until I reached a dead-end portion. I got worried a bit when I missed the stairway where I came from - all of a sudden the 'Twilight Zone' soundtrack played in my head. Not wanting to be caught up in a worm hole taking me back to the days when Amer Fort is bloodily repulsing enemies, I managed to crawl out of a small hole and into another small hallway and unto finally, the open space.

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Imagine my relief upon seeing other tourists and getting away from that maze. At the upper portion of the Fort, I rested briefly by just immersing at the wonderful view of the adjacent town. It seems so close that I could clearly see people hanging laundry on their rooftops. The patches of circle shaped plants complete the picturesque desert backdrop.  

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Beside the Fort at the side of Maota Lake, I saw a square Mughal garden in a floating like appearance patterned by color coordinated plants. Some of the highlights of the Fort also includes the Mirror Palace decorated by its mirrored ceilings and countless other temples such as the Sheesh Mahal.

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Declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013, Amer and along with five other Forts are referred to as the "Hill Forts of Rajasthan". Today, Amer Fort attracts thousands of tourists every day. 

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On a beautiful day under the hot but breezy Jaipur weather, I was glad to be among the many visitors that day. Walking along these storied grounds and walls gave me a new part of history to marvel at, be fascinated with - enough for me to do more readings and learning about the Mughal Empire that once ruled mightily over the land of Rajasthan. Like one of the old guards of Amer Fort, I stand behind the wall and went looking for the figure of Aileen. Using my camera's 200 mm lens, I saw her by the first entrance gate. A stark contrast from the time the defenders could only see haunting figures of enemies, that time I see my friend and off I go down hurriedly, visually satisfied but starving and in need of my Indian Thali fix




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