This morning I set out again with my guide and our driver. Our destination was the fort in the village of Amer called either the Amer Fort or the Amber Fort. As the official website uses the latter, so do I. On the way, we visited one of the "step wells" that were built to provide access to deep-lying ground water in the Rajasthan desert. This particular example is called Panna Meena ka Kund and dates from the 16th Century. It is in Amer, below the fort.
Tourists who arrive early at the Amber Fort and are prepared for a long, tedious haggle can take an elephant ride around the complex. It begins and ends at a platform (ele-pad?) on the entrance side of the huge parade ground.
I wondered why there were so many forts close together and asked if they were remnants of local warfare but my guide said it was simply the policy of the Maharajahs of Jaipur to build a fort on a nearby hill to protect each and every one of their palaces. They built many to accommodate their wives or simply to suit the local seasons. Temperatures range from 1 to 49 degrees between Winter and Summer and the monsoon season has its own requirements.
It rained steadily as we toured the complex, which didn't seem to relieve the intense humidity, I was as wet from perspiration as I was from large, warm raindrops. The architecture of the fort features both Hindu and Muslim motifs. The Maharajas were Hindus but married into the families of Moghul emperors. The fort contains private quarters for each of the Maharajah's wives as well as a common area (overseen by his own quarters) where they could socialise. There are also receiving halls for his public audiences visible from behind discreet screens in the ladies' quarters.
From the fort we drove to Gaitor to visit the Chattris or cenotaphs. These are elaborate marble crematorium platforms; one for each of the late maharajahs of Jaipur. The most recent one dates from the death of the present Maharajah's father in 2011. They are not where each was actually burned however. They are monuments used for commemorations on the anniversaries of their deaths. As you might expect they are magnificently carved and decorated.
We had planned to visit more forts, but the humidity was getting to me and I asked to head back for an early shower. We made one final stop on the way to view the Jal Mahal or water palace on the Man Sagur lake. This is currently in course of restoration and its future use is uncertain.
I had a restful late afternoon working on my photographs and writing this and the previous post. This evening I am returning to what is now one of my favourite restaurants in the world.