Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Amazing historical Amer Fort, Rajasthan


Amer Fort, Ganesh Gate entrance to the palace. Latticed marble  windows for the women folks to watch the functions en.wikipedia.org
   
  Awesome arcitecture of Amer Fanesah Gate   historicaltimeofindia.blogspot.com
Indian rulers through out  history used to build huge, self contained and strong forts to safeguard their kingdoms and their treasures  from the invading armies;  around such forts  also developed townships in the olden days.  This stereo type pattern can be noticed  in man Indian   cities such  as  Delhi, Agra, Jaipur,  Pune, Kolkata and Mumbai. The Agra Fort and the Red Fort are UNESCO World Heritage sites.  The oldest surviving fort in India is the Qila Mubarak at Bathinda which is believed to have been built  in 100 AD during the Kushan empire. The Kangra Fort in Kangra, it is believed, was built by the Katoch dynasty whose members survive even to  after the battle of Kurukshetra.

The Northern states such as Rajasthan  and adjacent states,  several centuries ago,  were quite vulnerable to attacks from other rulers. The attacks from the Muslim rulers from North West and Delhi were quite formidable. Hence, these regions ruled by various local rulers had built strong and safe palaces within the  forts with strong, tall walls and giant sturdy gates.

Medieval Delhi had begun to grow  around Chandni Chowk, the township adjoining the Red Fort, whereas  Kolkata city came about Fort William built by the BritishEast India company  in 1828 for their mercantile trading activities in East Indian region. Many small towns ranging from Jhansi to Chandragiri  began to grow around forts. Satara was so named because of the seven forts that surround the Satara city. The famous Madras  (now  Chennai) city developed around Fort St. George built by the British  in 1644 Madras,  The construction of the fort gave a fillip to  further settlements and trading activity, in what was originally an uninhabited land on the coastal area. Thus  the modern city of Chennai city evolved around the fortress. The fort currently houses the Tamil Nadu legislative assembly and other official buildings.

Amer Fort, Rajasthan. www.mapsofindia.com
Among the forts of  Rajasthan, Amer Fort is a remarkable one and it is  not only an old fort, but also an artistically designed old fortified structure. The fort  made of  red sandstone and marble, is  located in Amer, a town on a high hill, covering  an area of 4 square kilometers (1.5 sq mi) about 11 km from Jaipur city. The famous fort is known for its opulence, artistic Hindu architecture style, with  large ramparts and series of gates, cobbled paths and beautiful intricate, artistic works in marble. In 2013, this fort  was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the group Hill Forts of Rajasthan  by The World Heritage Committee in is 37th session held in Cambodia. This tourist place attracts more than  5000 people a day. 
Amer Fort Rajasthan. pinterest.com
This fort, that overlooks Maota Lake which is the source of water for the fort, is a major tourist attraction in this town.  The town of Amer was originally built by Meenas centuries ago, and  subsequently  it came under the rule of  Raja Man Singh I ( 1550 -1614). The beautiful palace inside  the fort was the residence of the Rajput Maharajas and their families. 

The Palace has four main sections each with an independent  entry gate  and a courtyard.  The "Hall of Public Audience", - Diwan-e-Aam, Hall of Private audience - the Diwan-e-Khas, the Sheesh Mahal (mirror palace), or Jai Mandir, and the  Sukh Niwas  are some of the places in the fort worth mentioning.

The main entry is  through what is called  the Suraj Pole (Sun Gate) which takes one  to Jaleb Chowk ( Arabic words) , the first main courtyard. This place was meant for conducting victory parades after successful battle trips which were also witnessed by the Royal family's women folk through the latticed windows. This gate, facing the sunrise hence (the name "Sun Gate"). happened to to be main entry gate so it  was provided with guards. Royal cavalcades and dignitaries used to  enter  the palace through this gate. It was built during the reign of Sawai Jai Singh (1693–1743 AD).
Suhag Mandir:
Embossed double leaf silver door entry in to the Sila Devi temple near the Ganesh Gate. en.wikipedia.org
A majestic  stairway from Jaleb Chowk leads into the main palace grounds. Here, at the entrance to the right of the stairway steps is the Sila Devi (incarnation of  goddess Kali or Durga) temple where the Rajput Maharajas used to worship, right from Maharaja Mansingh in the 16th century until the present day. The animal  ritual of animal-buffalo  sacrifice  that had been in practice  was prohibited after 1980s. Raja Mansingh got the goddess' idol when he defeated the ruler of of Jessore (now in Bangala Desh) in 1604.  

Ganesh Pol, or the Ganesh Gate, named after  Lord Ganesha), is the main entrance into the private palaces of the Maharajas.  It is a three-level structure with many frescoes that was also built on the orders of the Mirza Raja Jai Singh (1621–1627).  The Suhag Mandir lies above the gate from  where women folks of the royal family used to watch functions held in the Diwan-i-Am through latticed windows
Amer Fort, Amer, Rajasthan .Latticed marble  windows-inner view above Ganesh gate. en.wikipedia.org
The second courtyard, up the main stairway of the first level courtyard, houses the Diwan-i-Am or the Public Audience Hall. The Diwan-i-Am  is built with a double row of columns and a raised platform. There are 27 colonnades and here the ruler used to listen to the grievances of his subjects and receive petitions from them for his prompt action.
27 offices within the Amer Fort. Diego Delso - Own work, en,wikipedia.org
The third courtyard has  the private quarters of the Maharaja, his family and attendants . This courtyard is entered through the Ganesh Pol or Ganesh Gate, which is embellished with stunning mosaics and amazing sculptures. The courtyard has two buildings facing each , separated by a beautiful garden  laid on  the model of the Mogul gardens. The building  on the left side of  the entrance gate is called the Jai Mandir, which is artistically  embellished with glass inlaid panels and multi-mirrored ceilings. The  convex shaped mirrors with colored foil   enhance the glittering  candle lights  when they are lit. Also known as Sheesh Mahal (mirror palace, it was built by king Man Singh in 16th century and completed in 1727. In Sheesh Mahal,  some places show deterioration and the government is serious about restoration work to be carried out in places that need immediate attention.
Panoramic view of Amer fort from the highway including the Maota Lake. en.wikipedia,org
One can get a panoramic view of  the Maota Lake whose waters supply the cool, soothing wind across the palace. The Sukh Niwas or Sukh Mahal or Hall of Pleasure is yet another place that can not miss our attention . The entrance to the hall has beautifully carved  sandalwood door with marble inlay work with perforations.  To keep the building in cool condition a  piped water supply system is in place. The cool water  flows through an open channel that runs through this building,  keeping the environs cool and comfortable, as if  in an air-conditioned  building. The water from this channel flows ultimately  into the garden.
Amer Fort, Rajasthan , Fine Mirrored ceiling in the Mirror Palace. Right: Sheesh Mahal Interior.en.wikipedia.org/

  Amer Fort, Rajasthan,Sheesh Mahal- Mirror palace.en.wikipedia.org

Tit Bits:
01. Amer Fort is built in such a way that cool temperature prevails over it artificially created by winds that blow over a water cascade within the palace.  There is a a subterranean passage which is supposedly an escape route in times of emergency for the ruler and his family members,  connecting  Amer  palace, with Jaigarh Fort which  is located immediately above on the Cheel ka Teela (Hill of Eagles) of the  Aravalli range of hills.These two are part of the fort complex.
Amer Fort, Rajasthan. Secret  escape underground tunnel connecting Amer Fort and Jaigarh Fort. en.wikipedia.org/
02. Amber, or Amer, it is believed, derives its name from the Ambikeshwar Temple, built atop the Cheel ka Teela hill. According to other  version the the name refers to Amba, the Mother Goddess, the protector of the world.

03. On the day of India's independence,  the flag of independent India was first unfurled from the ramparts of the Red Fort by Jawahar Lal Nehru, first Prime Minister of India on the morning of 15 August, 1947. Like wise on the Independence day the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu will unfurl the national flag at  Ft. St George in Chennai built by the British East India company in 1844. This tradition has been in vogue since India won the freedom from the British in 1947.
Ref:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amer_Fort
Michell, George, Martinelli, Antonio (2005). The Palaces of Rajasthan. London: Frances Lincoln. p. 271 pages. ISBN 978-0-7112-2505-3.