After our volunteer with Saksham during our third day at India and second day at Jaipur, Gina, Simon, Laurie and I spent most of our day at Amer Fort, also known as Amber Fort.
Jaipur, Rajasthan 302001, India
Amer Fort is located in Amer, which is 11km away from Jaipur. The town is originally named as Ambarikhanera since its name was derived from the king of Ayudhya named Ambarisha. However, it was later abridged to Amer or Amber after. Traditionally, Amer was the capital of state as ruled by the Kachwaha Rajputs and it continued to be the capital for 600 years. There are four categories usch as Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and the Shudras that Hindus are divided in their caste system, which originates from the Hindu God of Creation, Brahma. There are beliefs that Brahmins came from Brahma’s head, which is why the category comprises of intellectuals such as teachers and priests. Since the Kshatriyas were rulers and warriors, they were believed to originate from Brahma’s arms. As for Vaishyas that came from Brahma’s thighs, they were traders, farmers and merchants. Shudras were created from Brahma’s feet and did laborious job that do not require skills. Kachwaha were previously considered as peasants and stigmatized as Shudras. However, the Kachwaha eventually managed to take control of Amer in the 17th century.
When we went into Amer Fort, the first thing that caught out eye was the Ganesh Pol due to the many frescoes built on it based on the orders of Mirza Raja Jai Singh from 1621 to 1627. It is simply beautiful and we spent some time taking pictures there. The third picture shows the Hindu deity, Lord Ganesh, which is how this part of the fort obtained its name. Since the Ganesh Pol provides access to the inner and private palaces of the Maharajas, Lord Ganesh is believed to remove all obstacles in life. Thus, his symbol is always placed on the main entry of many buildings.
Above the Ganesh Pol is the Suhag Mandir, where royal ladies gather in the chamber to witness functions held in the Diwan-i-Aam through lattice screens as shown on the third and forth pictures. It was funny how when we asked the local tourists to snap shots of us using our camera, all of them started taking out their cellphones to take pictures of us. We told them that we were no celebrities but they still wanted to take pictures of us and with us.
Diwan-i-Aam was constructed and ornamented in carved patterns of elephant head and vines using red sand stone and marble masonry in 1621 to 1667 A.D on the orders of Mirza Raja Jai Singh. Since this was constructed during the Mughal empire by the Kachwaha Rajputs rulers, there is a confluence of both Mughal and Rajput styles of architecture for this courtyard. The roof is supported by two rows of columns. One of which is the outer column, which is made of red sand stone. On the other hand, the inner column is made of cream marble. For people who do not know, the function of the Diwan-i-Am is for the Raja to receive his subjects and officials, as well to celebrate special occasions such as the Raja’s birthday and victory in a battle.
Yet another gorgeous part of Amer Fort that took six years to complete is the Sheesh Mahal, also known as the Mirror Palace due to the mirror glass work done on the walls of ceilings of this area. It was mentioned that the queen loves sleeping under the stars but since women are not allowed to sleep in open air, the king’s architect solved this problem by building this so that when candles lit up, the queen will be able to mesmerize on the thousand of glittering stars on the ceiling.
The first picture depicts the Kesar Kyari Bagh, which is also known as the saffron garden because saffron flowers are planted in the garden. However, the change in climate does not allow the saffron plant to survive well in Jaipur. The Kesar Kyari is located in the middle of the Maota Lake. Maota is an abbreviation of Mahavata as the huge banyan trees grew on the edges of the lake once upon a time. Rainwater flows into the lake from nearby hills and thus, the lake is the main source of water for the people in the palace, which was drawn by domesticated animals through the water lifting system located in the south-eastern area of the palace.
The next three pictures show the inner garden called chahar bagh, which is located in front of the Sheesh Mahal. Chahar Bagh directly translates to four garden. People who researched on chahar bagh have different opinions about the meanings behind this word. On one hand in the Iranian historical and cultural context, the number four represents the four elements being air, water, fire and earth. As for garden, it is a universe whose architect is God, which seedling is planted by human. On the other hand, chahar bagh is referred as a garden split into four parts via water flow. As seen in the second picture, the dominant motif in the middle is a star, which symbolize the Hindu equivalent of the union of yin and yang.
Facing the Sheesh Mahal is the Sukh Mandir, which is used to cater to the royal families’ mid-day stay during the summer season. This is because the stripped channel connecting the cascade of the back wall to the perforated marble screen used to carry cooling water through the room. Additionally, the doors are made of sandalwood adorned with ivory inlay works. This enabled the place to be cooling during the hot summer day.
Amber Fort is huge and exploring the fort in less than five hours is not enough because one part of the fort already takes awhile to absorb the beauty of the architecture and explanation of that particular part. Therefore, I will leave the rest of the pictures for your viewing pleasure.
200 INR FOR FOREIGNERS WHO ARE STUDENTS
550 INR FOR FOREIGNERS IN GENERAL
OPENS DAILY FROM 10AM TO 5PM
I always knew that Taj Mahal is one of the wonders of the world and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site but I never knew that Amber Fort, along with five other forts of Rajasthan, was also declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013. If I never stepped foot in the Rajasthan soil, perhaps I would have missed out on the great deal of witnessing the exquisite architectures of Amber Fort. Therefore, I highly recommend this place to be visited at least once in your lifetime.
Right after our whale shark snorkeling program at Oslob, we had lunch at P&J in the Whale Shark Point.
As shown above, the lunch served consists of a type of Filipino Spicy Soup (second picture), Spring Roll (third picture), Adobo Chicken (forth picture), Sergeant Fish (fifth picture) and Roasted Pork (last picture). Since the sea water was very salty and we were in it for half an hour, we wanted to have a refreshing and light lunch but it turns out that practically ALL the food served were so salty! We could hardly finish the food! We just ate until we were more or less full because it will be another 2 hours car ride from Oslob to Kawasan Falls.
Kawasan Falls is a cascading three-layered eleven waterfalls in the mountain of Badian. It is known as the “cleanest Inland Body of Water in the Philippines.” If you noticed, the waters are turquoise blue in color and this surface river stretches from Kabukalan spring and streams towards the sea of Tanon Strait. I did not managed to take many photos at Kawasan Falls because we were having so much fun. We wanted to try canyoneering but since Jun Yuan had phobia of water previously (but he has learnt swimming and can finally swim now, weee!!!) and Oppa could not swim and always proclaims his motto of “Safety First”, we decided to try rafting instead! Since it was a long queue before our turn, Jia Ling and I decided to take a dip near the waterfall and swim first.
Then, when it was finally our turn, we had to prepare because we saw and hear how other teams screamed under the pouring waterfall. I was shocked that Oppa is not enthusiastic in trying all these activities but he was the most excited as we were approaching the waterfalls. Needless to say, we were screaming away when we were under the waterfall. The guide informed us to lie flat on our front in order to enjoy the “massage” to the maximum. We felt so victorious right after!
Rafting costs an additional 300 pesos (SGD$7.58 / USD$5.68) per pax on top of our Tumalog Falls / Whaleshark swimming / Kawasan Falls package (7350 philippine pesos for 4 pax). I think is very reasonable because if you have done this in the Western countries, it would cost a bomb! It was an enjoyable time with the double trouble sharkies and the entire day’s activities strengthen our bond even more. Thank you Island Trekker for the amazing day trip itinerary!