The Amber Fort
After a long absence – due to world travel – I am back. I have just spent two wonderful months travelling around North and Central India conducting field research and have visited more breathtaking places than ever before in such a short space of time. There are so many wonders in India that I had to remind myself on more than one occasion not to become complacent.
One of the most romantic and enchanting places I visited was the Amber Fort outside Jaipur. The fortress was commissioned by Raja Man Singh, the commander in chief of the great Mughal emperor Akbar’s army in 1592 but it did not reach completion for another 150 years. The striking juxtaposition between dry, rugged, barren landscape and the delicate feminine architecture, exquisite painted friezes, jail and mirror work, and creamy marble set within an imposing fortress increases the splendour of this place. Stairways, corridors, gardens, courtyards, arches, balconies, pavilions, and towers all lead on from one another in endless succession. Even on a scorching day a refreshing breeze winds its way through this delightful network of small palaces and open spaces, creating a luxurious refuge from the sometimes harsh climate of Rajasthan. I was there during the India – Pakistan cricket match, so I virtually had the place to myself! A great qawali group were singing inside one of the pavilions all afternoon, adding to the magic of the fort. The highlight for me though, was the spectacular mirrored palace where the ruler would meet his special guests. It is quite simply, gorgeous.