Just a few kilometers outside Jaipur is the must-see (according to every guide book) Amber Fort. Being that we found an excellent driver to hire while in the city and my friend E had only a few days, we headed first thing in the morning to see the fort.
The historic fort, with parts of it as old as 11th century AD, held high hopes for me. I had read in the guide book that buses dropped you off at the bottom of the hill and you could take a jeep or elephant ride to the top if you didn’t want to walk. I was so excited for my elephant ride until I realized our driver had driven all the way to the top and parked. First disappointment. (To be fair, I’m not sure my husband would have ever been comfortable with the idea of me riding an elephant with our 3.5 month old and/or our toddler.)
|Lucky tourists who got to ride the elephant|
Entering into the fort, you can see why it’s a must see sight. Elaborately decorated, it’s often mistakenly called Amber Palace. Entering through the main gate, you explore a series of courtyards, more intricate and beautiful than the previous. The courtyards contain beautiful gardens and the buildings have elaborate decor in terms of wall paintings.
|Views, elaborate archways and gardens at every turn|
One of the most memorable is the Glass Palace where the decor on the walls is made with glass and mirrors, allowing the sunlight to bounce off and add a shimmer effect. In addition, the fort has breath-taking views of the city, the lake below, and the surrounding Aravali hills.
|The Glass Palace walls|
Unfortunately for us, a must see sight means everyone else is there as well. The fort was very crowded by the time we got there around 10 am, and everywhere we looked we saw large crowds of people and tour groups. It was often difficult to get up close, and I spent most of the time worried I would lose my son in the crowds.
|Crowds at every turn|
In addition, Jaipur is a desert, and even though October is supposed to be the start of their cool season, it was 90+ degrees Fahrenheit everyday and the day we went was no exception. The sun was blazing hot and we found ourselves often looking for shade, as did every other visitor.
Somewhere around the women’s quarters (the last courtyard before the exit) my daughter needed to nurse and my son decided he had had enough. He had a complete melt-down, and no amount of stroller walking, reasonable talking to, punishment threatening, or bribes (including his favorite videos on the iPad) could get him to calm down. When the guards repeatedly started pointing the way to the exit, we cut our visit short and headed for the door.
|My son, an introvert, was not happy most of the visit|
Amber Fort is amazing and if you are in Rajasthan, you should make an effort to see this place. But I highly suggest getting there as early as possible to beat the crowds. In addition bring plenty of water and snacks for your younger ones to stave off hunger.
- Timings: 8am – 6pm, 7 days a week
- Fees: 200 rs for foreigners, 300 rs for a combination ticket which also gives you entrance to Jantar Mantar, the Hawa Mahal, Albert Hall, and Nahargarh Fort.
* Stared photos by Atma Photography