Saturday, March 5, 2016

All The Stairs! (Or, Adventures at the Amber Fort)

Since we were already in the city we'd be visiting from, I didn't neet to meet my guide until 10:00 this morning, which left me with the odd experience of having some down time in the AM.  I took advantage of this to explore a bit more of the hotel. It has a nice garden out the back, which I enjoyed a pleasant walk in.

Our first stop for the day was the Amber Fort, which is only about 15 minutes from my hotel.  This fort is impressive.  Built by a Rajput Maharajah, the fort perches on the top of a hill, with a wall that stretches something like 23 kilometers along neighboring mountains, with other forts along the way, and watchtowers dotting the skyline.

Elephants convey visitors up the switchbacking road to the front gate.  At the last minute, after watching the guests lurch back and forth atop their elephants, I decided it was better not to risk the extra seasick inducement, and went up the back road in the car, climbing the last bit of the way.  It felt very good to hike up the hill, and in the early morning, with a strong breeze blowing through the mountains, it was the most comfortable--temperature-wise--that I've been outdoors for this entire trip.

There are two sections of the fort that are open to the public.  The more recent section, from the 17th century, is the first to see, since it was built in front of the older, original 16th century fort.  There is a wide courtyard where the elephants come in and desposit their passengers, and in an alcove above there was a very large drum, and some other musicians.  They finished just shortly after we arrived, which I was a bit sad about, but I was glad we heard some of it.

As I'm coming to expect, the fort included a hall of public audience and a hall of private audience.  There were some spectacular bits of architecture, including a room glittering with inlaid glass on all the walls.  What made me the happiest, though, was all the stairs!  Unlike most of the other places we have visited, which either didn't have stairs and back passages, or they were closed to the public, the Amber Fort has stairs everywhere.  Snaking up from the bottom floor to the second, branching here and there, leading to little crannies where you can look out into supremely three-dimensional views of rooms below, archways overlooking other hilltops . . . a smorgasbord of places to explore.

When we were done with the Fort, or at least we needed to move on to the next activity (there were still more stairs to climb!), we drove out of Jaipur to the village of Samode, where we toured the Samode Palace, once the home of a Maharajah, and had a very tasty lunch.  The palace itself was absolutely stunning, in this case not so much for the architecture, but for the spectacular decorations.  Painting or inlay on every wall.  Mirrors that reflected it all back again.  A gentleman led us through and took photographs of me in all the best places. I haven't looked at them yet, but hopefully at least one of them will be good.

After lunch it was back into the city.  By the time we got back it was nearly 3:00 and time to deposit me back at the hotel.  About an hour later, I got to experience my first weather that was not just plain hot and hazy.  A thunderstorm sprang up, and I was so excited to see it that I decided I had to go out on my tiny balcony.  Now, the doors to the balcony are closed, with a nice sign saying to please keep them that way to keep out mosquitoes. Seems reasonable to me, but I figured I could just sneak out there and the close the doors behind me.

It's a good thing, I didn't quite succeed.  The door way almost completely closed when I realized that there is no handle on the outside.  I had to dig my fingers into the small gap in the door and yank, and if I'd gotten the thing all the way closed, I would have gotten to see how long it takes for the hotel staff to check their email, since I had my Kindle with me and nothing else.  I like the balcony.  I like the thunderstorm. I don't like the idea of being stuck out there for a non-end-specified amount of time.  Still, bullet dodged!

Tomorrow will be spent here in the city.  I'll be seing the Hawa Mahal, the City Palace, and the Jantar Mantar, which includes a giant sundial.  It will be my last real tour day, as the one after is the drive back to Delhi and then hang out at the airport for a long time before flying home.

This has all been a whirlwind.  It's hard to believe it's almost over.

Wow.  I've been to India.

1 comment:

  1. It seems like you just got there. Too bad you didn't get to ride an elephant, but I understand about the seasickness.