>Travel Pictures


Current stop: Jaipur's Amber fort
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The fort at Amber just outside Jaipur is an astounding series of buildings.

There were workers and watchers wandering all around. The colors of the clothes set off the pale yellow of the walls.

It is a huge, imposing fort built in 1592 and occupied as the capital of the area until 1727 (when the Maharaja constructed Jaipur). 
The doorway called Ganesh Pol provides entrance to the residence courts. The screened off windows at the top provided sanctuary for women cloistered in purdah.

It was truly amazing. We liked the Shish Mahal, or Hall of Mirrors, a lot.

It is a room covered with tiny mirrors that give the impression - with the dancing reflection off the light of a single candle - of a flickering skyful of stars.
This is an idea that appears again and again in palaces all over India, but this is one of the more 'complete' rooms that we've seen. The inner area is roped off (and there are oh-so-serious guards watching), but we still enjoyed looking at the patterns and checking out the reflections when people's cameras flashed.

As we wandered around, we saw the restoration work taking place outside the walls (by workers balanced precariously on bamboo scaffolding), watched the arches cascade over the wandering visitors,

and gazed up at the fort walls that climb to the mountaintop above.

We had a lot of  fun getting lost in the zenana, or women's quarters.

Susan really liked the fact that the roof lintels had carved elephants in them. These animals really were used for warfare in the region (we've seen any number of iron spiked fort doors to guard against their rampages), and were thus immortalized in the decorations.

The Sila Devi temple has a stone image of Shiva inside, providing spiritual protection to the later Hindu residents of the fort.

Outside the walls, Amber itself is still a living town and there are many lovely Jain and Hindu temples dotting the downtown areas

On the way back to town we stopped for a quick look at the Water Palace (Jal Mahal)...

But the people getting rides on camels and elephants were much more interesting to watch!

We passed on taking an elephant ride ourselves, but the animals were all decked out and decorated up in the hopes of rustling up some business. As it was the first day of the new year, who could blame them?!

Of course, giving all those rides is tiring work!!
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