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April 9, 2020 / catherinebwrites

INDIA 13. THE AMER FORT

There it is behind us, The Amer Fort. This is the spot where all the tours stop to show you a view the Fort. Note the snake charmer to our right.

Snake charmers are the stereotypical image of India. Magical, mystical, the sweet notes of the pipe luring the snake from its basket, the creature so charmed by the music that, instead of attacking, it spreads its hood and sways to the rhythm.

Sadly it’s not like that at all. The snake is de-fanged and as soon as a tourist appears it’s owner opens the basket and flicks the unfortunate snake with his finger until it comes out. Then he plays the pipe. I know little about snakes but, to me, it looked unhappy and rather moth eaten. I had to keep reminding myself to stop making judgements. These are very poor people doing the best they can to feed their families.

The Amber Fort was built by Rajah Man Singh in the 1500s. He was the right hand man of Akbar the Great and successfully led Akbar’s armies in several battles.

Rajah Man Singh – Ashmolean Museum
Akbar and Man Singh playing “Kushti” on top of a slave.[3]

Kushti is an Indian wrestling game. But why you would play it on top of a slave? However, if you’re playing it with the Emperor you must be pretty important.

Clearly Rajah Man Singh had a few bob because this fort was by far the snazziest of all the forts we’d seen. And, at 3 km long and 1 km wide, it was by far the biggest.

The previous day, Deepak (our driver) asked if we wanted to ride an elephant at the Fort. I loved the idea of riding an elephant. Maybe if it were in the forest… but if it’s just India’s version of donkey rides on the beach… maybe not.

I was glad I’d made that choice. When we got into the Fort, the elephants were lined up in one of the courtyards. Tourists got on, the elephants followed one another in a circuit down a stone ramp, round a bit of the fort and back again. The tourists got off, more tourists got on and, off the elephants went again, and again, and again. I thought they looked depressed and unwell. Quite unlike the sprightly elephants we’d seen in the forest in Bandhavghar .

Elephants walking in circles all day

The setting of Amer Fort is spectacular and the buildings awesome.

The setting
The decoration behind us is mirror mosaic
Ganesh Gate

Ganesh Gate is the entrance to the private parts of the palace. It was built to honour the Mughal Emperors. Although the Emperors were Muslim. there is an image of Ganesh the elephant-headed Hindu god above the door. The entire fort is a mix of Mughul / Muslim and Rajput / Hindu architecture.

The lake below the fort and the garden where the ladies went to entertain themselves
Decoration detail
Decoration detail
Mirrored cieling
The Zenana or wives’ quarters

The Zenana or wives’ quarters were interesting. Apparently one of the Rajahs had twelve wives. They they each had identical quarters with a small, private patio built round a communal courtyard. The Rajah had access to his the women via a secret staircase and passageway, built so that he could visit the woman he fancied that day in secret. But he could also keep an eye on what they were all up to in their patios and the courtyard from the windows above. Big Daddy is watching you!

Prince visiting the zenana or women’s quarters

Beautiful, and all as it is I’m SO glad I didn’t live there. I don’t think I’d have coped with the life-style. But I am judging it from a European standpoint and by to-day’s standards. Perhaps, at the time, the Zenana was a great place to live.

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