Set on a hilltop in the town of Amer (sometimes spelled Amber) is Amber Fort, one of India’s most majestic forts. Walk through lavishly decorated halls and courtyards, spot centuries-old artwork, admire temples and enjoy views of a picturesque lake and garden. The fort was commissioned by Raja Man Singh I in 1592 and has had several renovations over the centuries.
Walk up the narrow lane to the fort’s entrance and admire its imposing red sandstone and white marble facade. Alternatively, pay for a morning elephant ride which will take you to the entrance, followed by a circuit around Jaleb Chowk, the main courtyard.
Climb the stairs through Suraj Pol (Lion’s Gate), which leads to the colonnaded Diwan-i-Am (Hall of Public Audience). Here the king held meetings with members of state and listened to public complaints. Go to the Sila Devi Temple to spot intricately carved doors and a statue of the goddess Kali.
Enter Ganesh Pol (Elephant’s Gate) to see the private rooms of the maharajah and royal family. Marvel at the Sheesh Mahal (Mirror Palace), the fort’s most impressive room with walls adorned with mosaics of mirrors and colored glass. Above is the Jai Mandir (Hall of Victory), noted for its carved marble panels. Walk along the fort’s ramparts to view Maota Lake and Kesar Kyari, a picturesque garden with star-shaped flowerbeds.
Amber Fort is a 30-minute drive east from Jaipur on the road toward Delhi. Catch a public bus to the fort’s parking lot, from where it is about a 15-minute walk to the entrance.
The fort is open daily. You’ll need to pay an additional fee if you want to enter with a camera. Rent an audio guide or hire a local guide, who can provide information on the fort’s history and interesting places that might otherwise be missed. Watch for snake charmers and musicians in traditional dress.
Arrive at Amber Fort early to avoid the crowds and heat, or come in the late afternoon when softer light presents good photography opportunities. Pay an additional fee to enjoy an evening sound and light show.