Surrounded by ramparts, this marvelous fortress is perched on a hill near Maota Lake. Raja Man Singh began building it in 1592; Mirza Raja Jai Singh and Sawai Jai Singh continued the construction over a period of 125 years. For centuries the fortress was the capital of the Kachhawah Rajputs, but when the capital shifted to Jaipur in the early 18th century, the site was abandoned. Although the fort is in ruins, the interior palaces, gardens, and temples retain much of their
pristine beauty. Both the art and the architecture combine Rajput and Mughal influences in felicitous ways. Recently the old rain-water harvesting and lifting systems have been renovated.
You approach the palace complex by walking or, if you arrive early, by riding an elephant (available until 11 am only, and there is more demand than supply) up a sloping incline to the Singh Pole gate and Jaleb Chowk, the preliminary courtyard—or you can drive up from the rear end into Jaleb Chowk. To get the most from your visit, pick up an audio guide at the ticket window.
Two flights of stairs lead up from Jaleb Chowk; to start, skip the one leading to the Shiladevi Temple and take the one leading directly to the palace. In the next courtyard, the pillared Diwan-i-Am (Hall of Public Audience) contains alabaster panels with fine inlay work—the kind of craftsmanship for which Jaipur is famous. Typical of the Mughal period, the rooms are small and intimate, whereas the palace's successive courtyards and narrow passages are characteristically Rajput.
One of the elaborately carved and painted gates is known as Ganesh Pol, after the elephant god Ganesh. From a latticed corridor above it, the queen—always in purdah, or hiding—would await the king's return from battle and sprinkle scented water and flowers down upon him. Each room shows some vestige of its former glory, especially the Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors), with glittering mirror work on the ceiling. Narrow flights of stairs lead up to the lavish royal apartments, and beyond the corridors and galleries there you'll find the small, elegant Char Bagh garden. Take in the views of the valley, the palace courtyards, the formal gardens abutting the octagonal pool next to the lake, and the vast Jaigarh Fort, the ancient fortress on the crest of the hill above you. Also on the upper floor is Jas Mandir, a hall with filigreed marble jalis (screens) and delicate mirror and stuccowork.
On your way out, peek into the 16th-century Shiladevi Temple to the goddess Kali, with its silver doors and marble carvings. Raja Man Singh installed the image of the goddess after bringing it here from lower Bengal (now Bangladesh). Exit the palace by the gate near the temple, and just a few minutes down the road is the 16th-century Jagat Shiromani temple. Dedicated to Krishna, this exquisitely carved marble-and-sandstone temple was built by Raja Man Singh I in memory of his son.
Delhi Rd., 11 km (7 miles) north of Jaipur, Jaipur, Rajasthan, 302002, India
Dec 26, 2013
The fort was splendid. The walls that surround the fort WOW, the size and intricate work of the columns and the artistry is amazing. The shopping area and the snake charmers and the puppet show was great. This also needs appreciation from Country Travel Mart for including in the Rajasthan Tour Package. It is pretty hard to give importance to watchable monuments in minimum days.
Nov 2, 2003
Beautiful stone inlays. It is a 10 - 20 minute walk up the hill. Others have told me the elephant ride is nice.