Amer Fort or Amber Fort is a fort located in Amer, Rajasthan, India. Amer is a town with an area of 4 square kilometres (1.5sqmi) located 11 kilometres (6.8mi) from Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan. The town of Amer and the Amber Fort were originally built by the Meenas, and later it was ruled by Raja Man Singh I. Located high on a hill, it is the principal tourist attraction in Jaipur. Amer Fort is known for its artistic style elements. With its large ramparts and series of gates and cobbled paths, the fort overlooks Maota Lake, which is the main source of water for the Amer Palace.
Mughal architecture greatly influenced the architectural style of several buildings of the fort. Constructed of red sandstone and marble, the attractive, opulent palace is laid out on four levels, each with a courtyard. It consists of the Diwan-e-Aam, or 'Hall of Public Audience', the Diwan-e-Khas, or 'Hall of Private Audience', the Sheesh Mahal (mirror palace), or Jai Mandir, and the Sukh Niwas where a cool climate is artificially created by winds that blow over a water cascade within the palace. Hence, the Amer Fort is also popularly known as the Amer Palace. The palace was the residence of the Rajput Maharajas and their families. At the entrance to the palace near the fort's Ganesh Gate, there is a temple dedicated to Shila Devi, a goddess of the Chaitanya cult, which was given to Raja Man Singh when he defeated the Raja of Jessore, Bengal in 1604. (Jessore is now in Bangladesh). Raja Man Singh had 12 queens so he made 12 rooms, one for each Queen. Each room had a staircase connected to the King’s room but the Queens were not to go upstairs. Raja Jai Singh had only one queen so he built one room equal to three old queen’s rooms.
This palace, along with Jaigarh Fort, is located immediately above on the Cheel ka Teela (Hill of Eagles) of the same Aravalli range of hills. The palace and Jaigarh Fort are considered one complex, as the two are connected by a subterranean passage. This passage was meant as an escape route in times of war to enable the royal family members and others in the Amer Fort to shift to the more redoubtable Jaigarh Fort. Annual tourist visitation to the Amer Palace was reported by the Superintendent of the Department of Archaeology and Museums as 5000 visitors a day, with 1.4 million visitors during 2007. At the 37th session of the World Heritage Committee held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in 2013, Amer Fort, along with five other forts of Rajasthan, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the group Hill Forts of Rajasthan.
Amer, or Amber, derives its name from the Ambikeshwar Temple, built atop the Cheel ka Teela. Ambikashwara is a local name for the god Shiva. However, local folklore suggests that the fort derives its name from Amba, the Mother Goddess Durga.
Amer Palace is situated on a forested hill promontory that juts into Maota Lake near the town of Amer, about 11 kilometres (6.8mi) from Jaipur city, the capital of Rajasthan. The palace is near National Highway 11C to Delhi. A narrow 4WD road leads up to the entrance gate, known as the Suraj Pol (Sun Gate) of the fort. It is now considered much more ethical for tourists to take jeep rides up to the fort, instead of riding the elephants.
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 erected 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.
The first Rajput structure was started by Raja Kakil Dev when Amber became his capital in 1036 on the site of present-day Jaigarh Fort of Rajasthan. Much of Amber's current buildings were started or expanded during the reign of Raja Man Singh I in the 1600s. Among the chief building is the Diwan-i-Khas in Amber Palace of Rajasthan and the elaborately painted Ganesh Poll built by the Mirza Raja Jai Singh I.
The current Amer Palace was created in the late 16th century, as a larger palace to the already existing home of the rulers. The older palace, known as Kadimi Mahal (Persian for ancient) is known to be the oldest surviving palace in India. This ancient palace sits in the valley behind the Amer Palace.
Amer was known in the medieval period as Dhundar (meaning attributed to a sacrificial mount in the western frontiers) and ruled by the Kachwahas from the 11th century onwards – between 1037 and 1727 AD, till the capital was moved from Amer to Jaipur. The history of Amer is indelibly linked to these rulers as they founded their empire at Amer.
Many of the ancient structures of the medieval period of the Mairs have been either destroyed or replaced. However, the 16th-century impressive edifice of the Amer Fort and the palace complex within it built by the Rajput Maharajas are very well preserved.
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[clarification needed] 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. The Maharaja used to inspect the guards contingent. Adjacent to the courtyard were the horse stables, with the upper-level rooms occupied by the guards.
An impressive stairway from Jalebi Chowk leads into the main palace grounds. Here, at the entrance to the right of the stairway steps is the Sila Devi temple where the Rajput Maharajas worshipped, starting with Maharaja Mansingh in the 16th century until the 1980s, when the animal sacrifice ritual (sacrifice of a buffalo) practiced by the royalty was stopped.
Ganesh Pol, or the Ganesh Gate, named after the Hindu god Lord Ganesh, who removes all obstacles in life, is the entry into the private palaces of the Maharajas. It is a three-level structure with many frescoes that were also built at the orders of the Mirza Raja Jai Singh (1621–1627). Above this gate is the Suhag Mandir where ladies of the royal family used to watch functions held in the Diwan-i-Aam through latticed marble windows called 'jâlîs'.
On the right side of the Jalebi Chowk, there is a small but an elegant temple called the Sila Devi temple (Sila Devi was an incarnation of Kali or Durga). The entrance to the temple is through a double door covered in silver with a raised relief. The main deity inside the sanctum is flanked by two lions made of silver. The legend attributed to the installation of this deity is that Maharaja Man Singh sought blessings from Kali for victory in the battle against the Raja of Jessore in Bengal. The goddess instructed the Raja, in a dream, to retrieve her image from the sea bed and install and worship it. The Raja, after he won the battle of Bengal in 1604, retrieved the idol from the sea and installed it in the temple and called it Sila Devi as it was carved out of one single stone slab. At the entrance to the temple, there is also a carving of Lord Ganesha, which is mad...