Tuesday, September 27, 2011

India Day 7 Sep. 12, 2011

India Day 7 Sep. 12, 2011

What a day! I had the most fun of the trip (yesterday was awesome-amazing views of the cultural attractions), but hey, how many times do you get to ride an elephant up a castle ramparts to the top of a mountain for 20 minutes?

 Got up early and took a peek out of my hotel window to see that we are in store for a bit of rain today...

I get to do a morning of sightseeing then an afternoon and evening packed with sight inspections of hotels.
 Jaipur old city...
 Jaipur old city...
 One of the several gates of Jaipur
 One of the several gates of Jaipur
Hawa Mahal: "Palace of Winds" or “Palace of the Breeze”), is a palace in Jaipur, India. It was built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh, and designed by Lal Chand Usta in the form of the crown of Krishna, the Hindu god. Its unique five-storey exterior is also akin to the honeycomb of the beehive with its 953 small windows called jharokhas that are decorated with intricate latticework. The original intention of the lattice was to allow royal ladies to observe everyday life in the street below without being seen, since they had to observe strict "purdah" (face cover).
 Built of red and pink sandstone, the palace is situated on the main thoroughfare in the heart of Jaipur’s business center. It forms part of the City Palace, and extends to the Zenana or women's chambers, the chambers of the harem. It is particularly striking when viewed early in the morning, lit with the golden light of sunrise.


The palace is a five-story pyramidal shaped monument that rises to a height of 50 feet (15 m) from its high base. The top three floors of the structure have a dimension of one room width while the first and second floors have patios in front of them, on the rear side of the structure. The front elevation, as seen from the street, is like a honeycomb web of a beehive built with small portholes. Each porthole has miniature windows and has carved sandstone grills, finials and domes. It is a veritable mass of semi-octagonal bays, which gives the monument its unique fa├žade. The inner face on the back side of the building consists of need-based chambers built with pillars and corridors with least ornamentation, and reach up to the top floor. The interior of the Mahal has been described as “having rooms of different colored marbles, relieved by inlaid panels or gilding; while fountains adorn the centre of the courtyard”.

 Near

 Amer Fort, also spelled and pronounced as Amber Fort) is located in Amer (a town with an area of 4 square kilometres (1.5 sq mi), 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) from Jaipur, Rajasthan state, India. It is one of the principal tourist attractions in the Jaipur area, located high on a hill. Amer Fort was made by Meenas king Raja Alan Singh Chanda later occupied by Kachhawa rajput . Amer Fort is known for its artistic style, blending both Hindu and Mughal elements. The fort with its large ramparts, series of gates and cobbled paths, overlooks the Maota Lake, at its forefront.

 The aesthetic ambiance of this formidable fort is seen within its walls on a four level (each with a courtyard) layout plan in well turned out opulent palace complex built with red sandstone and marble consisting of the Diwan-e-Aam or the "Hall of Public Audience", the Diwan-e-Khas or the "Hall of Private Audience", the Sheesh Mahal (mirror palace) or Jai Mandir, and the Sukh Niwas where a cool climate is artificially created by winds that blow over the water cascade within the palace. Hence, the Amer Fort is also popularly known as the Amer Palace.
  The palace was lived in by the Rajput Maharajas and their families. At the entrance to the palace near the fort’s Ganesh Gate, there is also a temple dedicated to Sila Devi, a goddess of the Chaitanya cult which was gifted to Raja Mansingh when he had defeated the Raja of Jessore in Bengal (Jessore is now in Bangladesh) in 1604.
 My driver Pankaj and my English speaking local guide Nadim.
 Brad and Panjak

This fort along with Jaigarh Fort located immediately above on the Cheel ka Teela (Hill of Eagles) of same Aravalli range of hills, is considered as one complex, as the two are well connected by subterranean passage. This passage was meant as an escape route in times of war for the royal family members and others in the Amer Fort to shift to the more redoubtable Jaigarh Fort.





Annual tourist visitation to the Amer Palace in Amer town was reported by the Superintendent of Department of Archaeology and Museums to the Amer Palace as 5000 visitors a day, and 1.4 million visitors were reported during 2007.
 OK, now the fun part!
 This is where you climb up the stairs and get on the elephant ride...woo-hoo!
 There must have been about 60 elephants below and on the large cobble stone path going up and down...
 A long line of tourists and the non-stop trinket hawkers...
 Amber for above...
 The trinket hawkers actually left me alone...must have been the movie star shades I bought in Delhi...
 Hawkers go-a-way!
 Eager elephant riders queuing up for their ride up the mountain...
 Nice garden below the fort.

 Line of elephants waiting to give a ride to the top.
 Next!
 Brad sitting on top of the world...I mean a humongous elephant...the sway of the elephants gait was actually relaxing after about 10 minutes into it...
 Dude was like, hey give me your camera, I'll take your picture for you...OK buddy...Go for it!
 Say cheese!
 The I'm pretending to not be posing look...;)
 Hey, you wrap that turban well Mr...
 Watch out for the 10 lb. piles of nature!
 View below as we ascend...
 Hey, we gonna both fit going through at the same time?
 OK, that worked out well...
 Even elephants walk on the wrong side of the road here...
 View below is getting farther away as I go upward and onward...
 Gone about 500 meters now...
 Lake below...
 Hey race you?
 Eat my dust!
 We're overtaking the other riders!
 I'm on top-o-the-world ma!
 Approaching the fort...not fair I wanna ride longer...
 OK, 10 minutes more...
 Hey looking steep...

 New pose...
 Hat-less...
 Almost there...
Entering the fort...
 Well...almost there...
 OK, arrived, now we got to park this sucker...

 OK, in a few minutes...
 Last pose before I jump ship (elephant).
 PEACE!
 Smile!
 Smile again!
 Large courtyard...
 Making my way around the courtyard...
 Going to elephant parking lot...
 Pretty big sucker, eh?
 Look, no hands!
 Adventure pose...

 Ahhhh, time to jump off and tip my driver...gave him 200 Rupi (about $5 USD) of course he asked for 200 Rupi more for taking photos...
 Disembarking the ride...
 Amer or Amer Fort's name is derived from the many opulent palaces in the inner areas of the Amer Fort, which are inlaid with many jewels and gemstones.


An impressive stairway from the Jaleb Chowk leads into the main palace grounds. Here, at the entrance itself to the right of the stairway steps is the Sila Devi temple where the Rajput Maharajas offered worship, starting with Maharaja Mansingh in the 16th century till the 1980s, when the animal sacrifice ritual (sacrifice of a buffalo) practiced by the royalty was stopped .

 Amer Fort is situated on a forested hill premonitory, above the Maota Lake near Amer village, about 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) from Jaipur city, the Capital of Rajasthan. It currently sits near the National Highway, which goes to Delhi.[6] A narrow jeepable road leads up to the entrance gate, known as the Suraj Pol or the Sun Gate, of the fort. Elephant rides are also taken through narrow passage through the Sun Gate
 Amer was known in the medieval period as Dhundar (meaning attributed to a sacrificial mount in the western frontiers) and ruled by the Kachwahas from the 11th century onwards – between 1037 and 1727 AD, till the capital was moved from Amer to Jaipur. The history of Amer is indelibly linked to these rulers as they founded their empire at Amer.
 Earlier to the Kachwahas, Amer was a small place built by the Meenas in the town they consecrated to Amba, the Mother Goddess, whom they knew as `Gatta Rani' or `Queen of the Pass'. The Amer Fort, as it stands now, was built over the remnants of this earlier structure during the reign of Raja Man Singh, Commander in Chief of Akbar’s army and a member of the Emperor's inner circle of nine courtiers, in 1592. The structure was fully expanded by his descendant, Jai Singh I. Even later, Amer Fort underwent improvements and additions by successive rulers over the next 150 years, until the Kachwahas shifted their capital to Jaipur during the time of Sawai Jai Singh II, in 1727.

The fort is divided into four main sections each with its own entry gate and courtyard.


Many of the ancient structures of the medieval period of the Meenas have been either destroyed or replaced. However, the 16th century impressive edifice of the Amer Fort and the palace complex within it built by the Rajput Maharajas are very well preserved.



Main entry is through the Suraj Pole (Sun Gate) which leads to Jaleb Chowk, which is the first main courtyard. This was the place where armies would hold victory parades with their war bounty on their return from battles, which were also witnessed by the Royal family women folk through the latticed windows. This gate was built exclusively and was provided with guards as it was the main entry into the palace. It faced the eastern direction towards the rising Sun and hence the name. Royal cavalcades and dignitaries entered the palace through this gate.





Jaleb Chowk is an Arabic usage, which means a place for soldiers to assemble. This is one of the four courtyards of the Amer Palace, which was built during Sawai Jai Singh’s reign (1693–1743 AD). The Maharaja's personal bodyguards held parades here under the command of the army commander or Fauj Bakshi. 

The Maharaja used to inspect the Guards contingent. At this location, the horse stables were also located where its upper level rooms were occupied by the guards.

Brad in front of the inner courtyard gate

Brad in front of the inner courtyard gate










Ganesh Pol or the Ganesh Gate, named after the Hindu god Lord Ganesh who removes all obstacles in life, is the entry into the private palaces of the Maharajas. It is a three level structure which has many frescoes and was also built at the orders of the Mirza Raja Jai Singh (1621–1627) and leads to the private quarters of the royal family. Above this gate is the Suhag Mandir where ladies of the royal family used to watch through the latticed windows functions held in the Diwan-i-Am.


Brad in front of a small gate opening


The second courtyard, up the main stairway of the first level courtyard, houses the Diwan-i-Am or the Public Audience Hall. 

Built with double row of columns, the Diwan-i-Am is a raised platform with 27 colonnades, each of which is mounted with elephant shaped capital with galleries above it. As the name suggests, the Raja held audience here to hear and receive petitions from the public.



The second courtyard, up the main stairway of the first level courtyard, houses the Diwan-i-Am or the Public Audience Hall. Built with double row of columns, the Diwan-i-Am is a raised platform with 27 colonnades, each of which is mounted with elephant shaped capital with galleries above it. As the name suggests, the Raja held audience here to hear and receive petitions from the public.
The third courtyard is where the private quarters of the Maharaja, his family and attendants were built. This courtyard is entered through the Ganesh Pol or Ganesh Gate, which is embellished with mosaics and sculptures. The court yard 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. Also known as Sheesh Mahal (mirror palace), the mirror mosaics and coloured glasses were "glittering jewel box in flickering candle light".




However, most of this work was allowed to deteriorate during the period 1970–80 but has since then been subjected to a process of restoration and renovation. Carved marble relief panels are placed on walls around the hall. The other building seen in the court yard is opposite to the Jai Mandir and is known as the Sukh Niwas or Sukh Mahal (Hall of Pleasure). 





This hall is approached through a sandalwood door with marble inlay work with perforations. A piped water supply flows through an open channel that runs through this edifice keeping the environs cool, as in an air conditioned environment. 








The water from this channel was led into the garden. The hall provides enchanting vistas of the Maota Lake, which gives a reflected view of the ramparts and terraces of the fort.



View from top of Amber Fort

View from top of Amber Fort

Looking down from Amber Fort

Looking down from Amber Fort

Looking down from Amber Fort



The Amer town itself, which is an integral and inevitable entry point to the Amer Palace, is now a heritage town with its economy dependent on the large influx of tourists (4000 to 5000 a day during peak tourist season). This town is spread over an area of 4 square kilometers (1.5 sq mi) and has 18 temples, 3 Jain mandirs and three mosques. It has been listed by the World Monument Fund (WMF) as one of the 100 endangered sites in the world; funds for conservation are provided by the Roberts Willson Challenge Grant. As of 2005, some 87 elephants lived within the fort grounds, but several were said to be suffering from malnutrition.


Conservation works have been undertaken at the Amer Palace grounds at a cost of Rs 40 crores (US$8.88 million) by the Amer Development and Management Authority (ADMA). However, these renovation works have been a subject of intense debate and criticism with respect to their suitability to maintain and retain the historicity and architectural features of the ancient structures. Another issue which has been raised is the commercialization of the place.


A film unit shooting for a film at the Amer Fort damaged a 500-year-old canopy, demolished the old limestone roof of Chand Mahal, drilled holes to fix sets and spread large quantities of sand in Jaleb Chowk in utter disregard and violation of the Rajasthan Monuments, Archaeological Sites and Antique Act (1961).


The Jaipur Bench of the Rajasthan High Court intervened and stopped the film shooting with the observation that "Unfortunately, not only the public but especially the concerned (sic) authorities have become blind, deaf and dumb by the glitter of money. Such historical protected monuments have become a source of income."


The fourth courtyard is where the Zenana (Royal family women, including concubines or mistresses) lived. This courtyard has many living rooms where the queens resided and who were visited by the king at his choice without being found out as to which queen he was visiting, as all the rooms open into a common corridor.


The queen mothers and the Raja’s consorts lived in this part of the palace in Zanani Deorhi, which also housed their female attendants. The queen mother’s took deep interest in building temples in Amer town.

The garden, located between the Jai Mandir on the east and the Sukh Niwas on the west, both built on high platforms in the third courtyard, was built by Mriza Raja Jai Singh (1623–68). It is patterned on the lines of the Chahar Bagh or Mughal Garden. It is in sunken bed, shaped in a hexagonal design. 


The courtyard from above looking down into the 1st and 2nd courtyards...


It is laid out with narrow channels lined with marble around a star shape pool with a fountain at the centre. Water for the garden is led from the Sukh Niwas cascades of water channel and also from the cascade channels called the "chini khana niches" that originate from terrace of the Jai Mandir.

South of this courtyard lies the Palace of Man Singh I, which is the oldest part of the palace fort. The palace took 25 years to build and was completed in 1599 during the reign of Raja Man Singh I (1589–1614). It is the main palace. In the central courtyard of the palace is the pillared baradari or pavilion; frescoes and colored tiles decorate the ground and upper floor rooms in this palace. This pavilion (which used to be curtained for privacy) was used as the meeting venue by the maharanis (queens of the royal family). All sides of this pavilion are connected to several small rooms with open balconies. The exit from this palace leads to the Amer village, a heritage town with many temples, palatial houses and mosques.

Snake charmers

Yep, that's a cobra...

Pet the cobra for an extra 100 Rupies...

Say cheese Mr. Cobra.

Bye-bye Amber Fort...was good fun!
Of course it starts to rain...well at least it was after the elephant ride...:) The Jal Mahal palace has got an eye-popping makeover. Traditional boat-makers from Vrindavan have crafted the Rajput style wooden boats. A gentle splashing of oars on the clear lake waters takes you to Jal Mahal. You move past decorated hallways and chambers on the first floor to climb all the way up to the fragrant Chameli Bagh. Across the lake, you can view the Aravalli hills, dotted with temples and ancient forts, and on the other side, bustling Jaipur. The most remarkable change is in the lake itself. The drains were diverted, two million tones of toxic silt were dredged from the bottom, increasing its depth by over a meter, a water treatment system was developed, local vegetation and fish reintroduced, the surrounding wetlands regenerated and five nesting islands created to attract migratory birds.

surrounding wetlands regenerated and five nesting islands created to attract migratory birds.
The Jantar Mantar is a collection of architectural astronomical instruments, built by Maharaja (King) Jai Singh II at his then new capital of Jaipur between 1727 and 1734. It is modeled after the one that he had built for him at the Mughal capital of Delhi. He had constructed a total of five such facilities at different locations, including the ones at Delhi and Jaipur. 




The Jaipur observatory is the largest and best preserved of these. 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". Early restoration work was undertaken under the supervision of Major Arthur Garrett, a keen amateur astronomer, during his appointment as Assistant State Engineer for the Jaipur District.


An excursion through Jai Singh's Jantar is a unique experience of walking through solid geometry and encountering a collective astronomical system designed to probe the heavens.

The name is derived from jantar ("instrument"), and Mantar ("formula", or in this context "calculation"). Therefore jantar mantar means literally 'calculation instrument'.

This observatory has religious significance, since ancient Indian astronomers were also Jyotisa masters.


The observatory consists of fourteen major geometric devices for measuring time, predicting eclipses, tracking stars' location as the earth orbits around the sun, ascertaining the declinations of planets, and determining the celestial altitudes and related ephemerides. Each is a fixed and 'focused' tool. 



Built from local stone and marble, each instrument carries an astronomical scale, generally marked on the marble inner lining. Bronze tablets, all extraordinarily accurate, were also employed. Thoroughly restored in 1901, the Jantar Mantar was declared a national monument in 1948.


The instruments are in most cases huge structures. The scale to which they have been built has been alleged to increase their accuracy. However, the penumbra of the sun can be as wide as 30 mm, making the 1mm increments of the Samrat Yantra sundial devoid of any practical significance. Additionally, the masons constructing the instruments had insufficient experience with construction of this scale, and subsidence of the foundations has subsequently misaligned them. 

The samrat yantra, for instance, which is a sundial, can be used to tell the time to an accuracy of about two seconds in Jaipur local time.
The Samrat Yantra, the largest instrument, is 90 feet (27 m) high, its shadow carefully plotted to tell the time of day. Its face is angled at 27 degrees, the latitude of Jaipur.

The Giant Sundial, known as the Samrat Yantra (The Supreme Instrument) is the world's largest sundial, standing 27 meters tall. Its shadow moves visibly at 1 mm per second, or roughly a hand's breadth (6 cm) every minute, which can be a profound experience.
The Hindu chhatri (small cupola) on top is used as a platform for announcing eclipses and the arrival of monsoons.

City Palace, Jaipur, which includes the Chandra Mahal and Mubarak Mahal palaces and other buildings, is a palace complex in Jaipur city, the capital of the Rajasthan state, India. It was the seat of the Maharaja of Jaipur, the head of the Kachwaha Rajput clan. 


The Chandra Mahal palace now houses a museum but the greatest part of it is still a royal residence. The palace complex, which is located northeast of the centre of the grid patterned Jaipur city, incorporates an impressive and vast array of courtyards, gardens and buildings. The palace was built between 1729 and 1732, initially by Sawai Jai Singh II, the ruler of Amber. He planned and built the outer walls, and later additions were made by successive rulers right up to the 20th century. 



The credit for the urban layout of the city and its structures is attributed to two architects namely, Vidyadar Bhattacharya, the chief architect in the royal court and Sir Samuel Swinton Jacob, apart from the Sawai himself who was a keen architectural enthusiast. 


The architects achieved a fusion of the Shilpa shastra of Indian architecture with Rajput, Mughal and European styles of architecture.


The palace complex lies in the heart of Jaipur city, to the northeast of the very centre, located at 26.9255°N 75.8236°E. The site for the palace was located on the site of a royal hunting lodge on a plain land encircled by a rocky hill range, five miles south of Amber (city). The history of the city palace is closely linked with the history of Jaipur city and its rulers, starting with Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II who ruled from 1699-1744. 


He is credited with initiating construction of the city complex by building the outer wall of the complex spreading over many acres. Initially, he ruled from his capital at Amber, which lies at a distance of 11 kilometers (6.8 mi) from Jaipur. He shifted his capital from Amber to Jaipur in 1727 because of an increase in population and increasing water shortage. 

He planned Jaipur city in six blocks separated by broad avenues, on the classical basis of principals of Vastushastra and other similar classical treatise under the architectural guidance of Vidyadar Bhattacharya, a man who was initially an accounts-clerk in the Amber treasury and later promoted to the office of Chief Architect by the King. 

Gate to the City Palace

Driving to Jai Mahal Palace Hotel-Jaipur

Driving to Jai Mahal Palace Hotel-Jaipur

Driving to Jai Mahal Palace Hotel-Jaipur

Driving to Jai Mahal Palace Hotel-Jaipur

Driving to Jai Mahal Palace Hotel-Jaipur

Driving to Jai Mahal Palace Hotel-Jaipur

Driving to Jai Mahal Palace Hotel-Jaipur


Set amidst 18 acres of beautifully landscaped Moghul gardens, this incomparable Palace dates back to 1745 A.D. A masterpiece in the Indo Saracenic style of architecture, it blends spotlight-grabbing opulence with tantalizing comforts that transport guests to a world of Rajasthan magnificence.
 It is located downtown, close to the main shopping center and historical monuments.

·         100 rooms including 6 suites. Colonial style furniture, miniature paintings, gold-hued silks, sheet curtains and stylish bathrooms offer contemporary comfort with a regal touch. 

All the rooms have a tea/coffee maker, mini bar, safe, color TV, direct dial telephone with satellite programs and hair dryer. Wi-Fi connectivity is available.
10 Deluxe Rooms, 67 Luxury Rooms, 17 Luxury rooms with private sit-out and 6 Luxury suites.





      Hosted Lunch-Excellent-

had curry with goat and Nan bread with papadoms and locally made chutney

Jai Mahal Palace entrance


 Site inspection of the 4 star Ramada Hotel (business hotel)...good location, but needs updating, but good for a business hotel.

 Best part was their pool on the roof.

 Nice bathroom, but modest
 Pool and spa areas were good

Entrance













 Marriott Jaipur-NICE, great new hotel with good convention space.










Nice lobby area with great coffee shop
 Nice pool
Very new clean rooms...

Very spacious
Nice decor


4 Points Sheratan Hotel Lobby
Front door staff
Front Door Staff

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