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Forts and Palaces of India

Jaipur - Forts - Palaces

Amber Fort - It is situated in Jaipur, the former capital of the Kachhwaha Rajputs on a hillside overlooking Maotha lake. Its construction was started by Raja Man Singh I, army commander of Mughal Emperor Akbar in 1592 and was completed by Mirza Raja Jai Singh and Sawai Jai Singh, over a period of about two centuries. It is a classic fusion of Mughal and Hindu architecture, built in red sandstone and white marble.

The palace or the royal apartments lies inside the massive Amber fort complex with gateways, gardens, halls, stairways, pillared pavilions, temples and palaces. Some of the noteworthy architectural marvels in the complex are the 'Diwan-E-Khas', the 'Sheesh Mahal' and the 'Jai Mandir' with exquisite mirror work, the 'Diwan-E-Aam', the 'Sukh Niwas', the Shila Mata Temple and Kali temple and the well laid out garden the 'Kesar Kyari'. The fort is entered through the 'Dil-e-Aaram' Garden, laid out in the traditional Mughal style. 

The emperors apartments lies on a higher terrace beyond a two tiered decorative gateway, 'Ganesh Pol, covered with elegant frescoes and pavilions having fascinating jali (Lattice worked) screens. The 'Jai Mandir' (hall of victory) has a glittering ceiling with mirror pieces on stucco and elegant inlaid panels. 

City Palace - In the heart of the old city of Jaipur, the City Palace occupies a large area, divided into a series of courtyards, gardens, and buildings. The outer wall was built by Maharaja Jai Singh II, but other additions are much more recent, some dating back to the beginning of this century. The palace is a wonderful blend of Rajasthani and Mughal architecture.

The centre of the palace, is the Chandra Mahal, or the Moon Palace, which provides a fine view of the gardens and the city. The ground and first floor of the Chandra Mahal, form the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh Museum. The museum has an extensive collection of art, carpets, enamelware and old weapons. The paintings include miniatures of Rajasthani, Persian and Mughal schools. The Mubarak Mahal, or the Auspicious Palace, contains the textile section of the museum. 

The palace also houses the Diwan-e-Aam, or the hall of public audience, and Diwan-e-Khas, or the hall of private audience. In the Diwan-e-Aam, ornate pillars support the high ceilings. The walls, intricately painted with touches of deep red and gold, provide perfect mounts for immense medieval Afghan and Persian carpets. Miniatures from the Mughal and Jaipur schools, and Jai Singh's translations in Arabic and Sanskrit of the astronomical treatises of ancient scientists, are displayed in glass cases.

Hawa Mahal - Built in 1799, the Hawa Mahal, or Palace of the Winds, is one of the major landmarks of Jaipur. This five storey building, which looks out over the main street of the old city, is a stunning example of Rajput artistry, with its pink semioctagonal and delicately honeycombed sandstone windows.

It was originally built to enable ladies of the royal household, to watch the everyday life and processions of the city. The palace was built by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh, and is part of the City Palace complex. There is, also, a small archaeological museum on the same site. 

Jaigarh-Nahargarh Fort - Also known as the fort of victory, Jaigarh Fort is a rugged structure built in 1726 by Sawai Jai Singh. It was the royal treasury for several years. The fort is perched on a cliff and is surrounded by huge battlements with inside walkways offering stunning views on all sides.

The World's largest cannon on wheel, Jaivan, is to be found here. Also of interest is the intricate water supply and storage system, which is considered a marvel of planning. The fort has its museum and provides some excellent view of Amber Fort. Situated in the north of Jaipur, the Jaigarh Fort has more or less same structure as of Amber Fort. The fort also houses a beautiful museum and gives breathtaking views of Jaipur below and Amber Fort.

 Looming beyond the hills of Jaigarh, is the awesome Nahargarh Fort, which provides a fabulous view of the city of Jaipur. Much of the old structures, are at present, in a rather decrepit condition, except for the fine structure, added by Sawai Ram Singh II and Sawai Madho Singh II.

Agra-Forts-Palaces

Agra Fort - The high red sandstone ramparts of this great monument stretch for almost 2.5 kilometers, dominating a bend in the river Yamuna, northwest of the Taj Mahal. The foundation of this majestic citadel was laid by the Emperor Akbar and it developed as a stronghold of the Mughal Empire under successive generations. 

The curved bastions of the huge walls are interrupted by impressive gates.The graceful Diwan-e-Aam or the Hall of Public Audiences, made of red sandstone, was constructed by Shahjahan in 1628. Three rows of white polished stucco pillars topped by peacock arches support the flat roof. Today, this Hall is bereft of brocade decorations, silk carpets and satin canopies which would have enhanced the elegance of the settings when the Emperor sat down with his subjects to hear their complaints. 

The Agra Fort houses the Royal Pavilions, which were designed to catch the cool breeze wafting across the river. Other attractions comprise the Macchi Bhawan or the Fish Palace, the Hammam-i-Shahi or the Royal Bath, the Nagina Masjid or the Gem Mosque, and the Zenana Meena Bazaar, where the ladies of the court would browse through goods like silk, jewellery and brocade. 

A doorway from the rear of the Diwan-i-Khas leads to the Mussaman Burj, a two-storeyed pavilion, where Shahjahan caught the last glimpse of the Taj Mahal before he died. Surrounded by a verandah, the elegant chamber has a lattice-screen balustrade with ornamental niches; exquisite inlay covers almost every surface and a marble chhatri (umbrella) on top adds the finishing touch. 

Fatehpur Sikri -  40 kms from Agra, the city of Fatehpur Sikri served as the capital of the Mughal empire between 1570 and 1586. But as abruptly as it had been built, it was abandoned. A popular legend is attached to the city's conception. According to it, Emperor Akbar was without a male heir, and therefore, made a pilgrimage to seek the blessings of the powerful saint Sheikh Salim Chisti. His prayer was fulfilled, and soon, a son was born to him. In honour of the saint, Akbar named the prince Salim, and decided to found a new city to celebrate his birth. And thus, the magnificent Fatehpur Sikri, the new capital, came into being. 

The finest monuments within this area are the Diwan - i - Am, Diwan - i - Khas, Panch Mahal, Jama Masjid, Panch Mahal, Buland Darwaza and the tomb of Saint Sheikh Salim Chisti.

 

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