Jewels of Northern India Tour 2014
February 19th - March 3rd, 2014


Feb 26th Jaipur

This morning visit the Amber Palace of the Kuchchawa rulers on the back of the elephant like the Maharajas did. They are very particular about these elephants and allow them only so many hours to work before their day is done. That is why we get there early, to be sure to get a ride on them. It is an extraordinary experience to be given the time to see the landscape all around you as you ascend to the top. We will ride back down in jeeps.

Amber is the classic romantic Rajasthani fort palace. Its construction was started by Man Singh I in 1592, and completed by his descendent Jai Singh I. Its forbidding exterior belies an inner paradise where a beautiful fusion of Mughal and Hindu styles finds its ultimate expression. The ‘d’ is silent so you are really saying Amer Palace. It is a huge place but again our expert guide with let us know the important history behind it and keep us all in his eyesight. What a view. There is a wall that surrounds the palace and it reminded me of the great wall in China. What an imposing and beautiful palace this was. Inside there were many rooms to visit but I think one of the most special was the room of mirrors. They covered the walls and ceilings and at night when candles were lit must have been very romantic. So many mirrors cut into floral pieces…very pretty…wonder who decided on the patterns… The palace was lived in by the Rajput Maharajas and their families.

There are four courtyards here but the third one is where the family lived. This courtyard is entered through the Ganesh Pol or Ganesh Gate, which is embellished with mosaics and sculptures. The courtyard has two buildings, one opposite to the other, separated by a garden laid in the fashion of the Mughal Gardens. The building to the left of the entrance gate is called the Jai Mandir, which is exquisitely beautified with glass inlaid panels and multi-mirrored ceilings. The mirrors are of convex shape and designed with coloured foil and paint which would glitter bright under candle nights at the time it was in use. A particular attraction here is the “magic flower” fresco carved in marble at the base of one of the pillars around the mirror palace which is identified by two hovering butterflies depiction; the flower has seven unique designs of fish tail, a lotus, a hooded cobra, an elephant trunk, a lion’s tail, a cob of corn and a scorpion, each is viewed by a particular way of partial hiding of the panel with hands.
Hawa Mahal - The ornamental facade of this "Palace of Winds" is a prominent landmark in Jaipur. This 5 story pink building has 953 niches and windows built into it by Pratap Singh and was built for the palace. It was built so the royal ladies could look out and the plebes would not see them. Built in 1799 by Pratap Singh, the Mahal was a royal grandstand for the palace women.
We also visit the City Palace which includes the Chandra Mahal and Mubarek Mahal. The Chandra Mahal palace now houses a museum but the greatest part is still a royal residence. The palace was built between 1729 and 1732 by Sawai Jai Singh II, the ruler of Amber. A delightful blend of Mughal and traditional Rajasthani architecture, the City Palace sprawls over one-seventh of the area in the walled city.


Jantar Mantar: Science lovers will love Jantar Mantar, an observatory built by the founder of Jaipur in 1728. This is the largest and the best preserved of the five observatories built by Jai Singh II in different parts of the country. This observatory consisting of outsized astronomical instruments is still in use. It has been inscribed on the World Heritage List as “an expression of the astronomical skills and cosmological concepts of the court of a scholarly prince at the end of the Mughal period”.


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