Amer Fort is rated as one of the top things to do in Jaipur. It is a must-visit place in Jaipur. Recently, Amer Fort has been listed as one of the 17 iconic tourist sites identified by the Ministry Of Tourism of India. Amer Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a part of the “Hill Forts of Rajasthan” cluster. People call it by many names like Amber Palace, Amer Ka Kila, Amber Fort and so on. Even though it is commonly called a fort, in reality, it is a palace since it was a residential unit of the royal family.
Amer Fort History
Amer was ruled by the Meena tribe before Kachwaha Rajputs took control. The capital of Kachwaha ruler was Dausa near Jaipur. They were originally from Narwar before emigrating to this region. As per popular opinion, Kachwaha Rajputs befriended the Meenas and later massacred them to take control of Amer town.
Amer became the capital of the Dhundhad region ruled by Kacchawa Rajputs. The current building known as Amer fort was built by Raja Man Singh I in the 16th century. Many additions were made subsequently until it was abandoned in the early 18th century when the capital was shifted to Jaipur. The history of Amer Fort consists of a dark period when it was taken over by Mughals until it was recaptured by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II.
It takes 45 minutes to 90 minutes to complete a tour of Amer Fort. With so much to see and experience, this Amer Fort travel guide blog intends to help you plan your visit to the most popular fort in India. It intends to answer traveler’s common queries on the fort. I’m listing here what to see in Amer fort in the order of importance.
Things To See In Amer Fort.
Amer Fort is incredibly beautiful and there are many things to see and do. Despite this, there are many sections of the fort which are not open for the visitors. Many famous Bollywood movies have been filmed in Amer Fort like Bajirao Mastani and Manikarnika. Here are 11 things to see in Amer Fort Jaipur.
Ganesh Pol is the main entrance to the personal quarter of kings and queens. Only important people were allowed entry beyond this gate. It is incredibly beautiful and is one of the most photographed locations in Amer Fort. It’s a popular selfie point too. Pol refers to a gate in the local dialect. Ganesh Pol is the finest specimen of amalgamation of the Mughal and Rajput influences in creating a masterpiece.
Named after Hindu God Ganesha, Ganesh Pol is symbolic of the importance Lord Ganesha has in the lives of people. As per Hindu belief, Ganesha’s blessing is sought before starting any auspicious work as he can help tide over any obstacles. It is common to find an idol of Ganesha placed at the entrance in Indian homes. Therefore it not surprising if this gate is dedicated to him as it leads to the residential area of the royal family.
Tip: Do visit viewing deck above Ganesh Pol called Suhag Mandir. It has latticed windows used as a viewing deck by the royal women as they were not allowed to make a public appearance. Don’t miss the beautiful frescoes inspired by the Mughal influence on the wall. Mughal influence traces its roots to Central Asia in Bukhara, Uzbekistan.
2. Diwan e Aam
Diwan-e-Aam is a court where the king used to meet his administrative officials and appeared before important people during auspicious & important occasions. Built during the late 16th century, it features a beautiful amalgamation of two different architectural styles -Mughal and Rajput. Pillars in this hall are constructed using red sandstone as well as white marble.
Elephant head and florally patterned vines are two distinct design elements to influence the design of pillars in this hall.
Tip: You can have a panoramic view of Maota, Dilaram garden and Jaleb Chowk from Diwan-e-Aam.
3.Sheesh Mahal or Diwan-e-Khas
The Sheesh Mahal is considered as a “Jewel in the crown”. Diwan-e-Khaas means a place where the king would meet only close and important people. therefore, Sheesh Mahal refers to a section where walls and ceilings are covered with millions of small mirrors. Sheesh=mirror.
During the night these mirrors reflect the light of a torch or wick, resembling stars in the sky. This technique of mirror work on walls and ceilings was popular during the reign of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. The first specimen of Sheesh Mahal was created in the Lahore fort in Pakistan.
Tip: Apart from the mirror work, don’t miss the fine inlay work on Makrana (white marble) in Diwan-e-Khas and the magic flower.
The magic flower is carved in the marble slabs at the base of pillars in Diwan-e-Khas. You can easily recognize it as it has flowers, leaves, & butterflies hovering around it. This design contains 7 unique & distinct design elements -a scorpion, fishtail, a hooded cobra, a lotus flower, trunk of an elephant, a lion’s tail, and lastly cob corn. Truly, it’s a masterpiece; uncommon to find one these days.
4. Sukh Mahal or Sukh Mandir
Sukh Mahal or Sukh Mandir is just across Sheesh Mahal. It was a personal chamber of the king, it features a mechanism to keep the premises cool even during peak summer. Influences of Mughal architecture from the Jahangirian period can be found in the wall niches.
Tip: The walls are covered with niches featuring Surahi/ vase pattern, a Mughal influence. Don’t miss the Char Bagh patterned Mughal garden between Sheesh Mahal and Sukh Mahal.
5. Zenana Deori
Zenana= women. Zenana section has personal chambers of the queens and royal women. Some people call it a harem. The chambers were designed in a way that the king finds his way to any of them discreetly to rule out a feeling of jealousy among the queens. Personal attendants of queens too lived in these chambers.
Man Singh Mahal is not to be missed as it was constructed during the Mughal emperor Akbar’s visit to Amer and completed in 1599 AD. A stone slab is written in Farsi (Persian) having a message of Akbar adorns one of the walls here. A pavilion or Baradari can be found in the center of Man Singh Mahal. As per a popular legend, this pavilion was a meeting place for the queens.
6. Amer Fort to Jaigarh Fort tunnel
Amer tunnel was discovered recently as no one knew about its existence for years. You can walk through the Amer Fort tunnel to Jaigarh Fort. It was an escape route in case of an emergency, especially during a siege. It connects with Diwan e Aam, Man Singh Mahal, and Janana Deori. The Amer tunnel is subterraneous only to a point, afterward, it is roofless.
Tip: You need to plan for a pick-up at Jaigarh Fort if you wish to walk through the Amer tunnel. Taxi/ Tuk-Tuk/ Auto-Rickshaw is not available on-demand at Jaigarh Fort for your return journey.
7. Shila Mata Temple
Sheela Mata temple has an interesting history. Maharajah Man Singh while fighting against the local king in Jessore, Bengal (now Bangladesh) in the 16th century could only secure the win after worshipping a local deity. He brought back the idol in a form of the stone slab and installed it in Amer Fort. A custom of offering a goat sacrifice was followed for centuries but was abandoned in the later years. The ownership and management of this temple are retained by the descendants of the royal family while the government retains & manages the Amer Fort. The temple is made from Makrana White marbles, one of the best white marble in the world. Temple follows a strict policy of not allowing leather goods, shoes, socks, wallets, cameras and mobile phones inside the temple. The sentry can be rude at times.
8. Nakkarkhana/ Naubat Khana
Naqqarkahna can be found at Chandpole or west gate close to the elephant ride de-boarding point.
The musician would play a variety of music at Nakkarkhana using an array of musical instruments during ancient times. Out of these drums and Karna were the most prominent ones. The word Naqqar means drums also called Nakkara/ Nagada. Live music is played every morning using the old instruments to recreate an experience of a bygone era during the elephant rides. It is surely a unique Amer experience.
9. Hammam/ Bath
Hamam or bath is one of the most overlooked sections of Amer Fort. It’s an astonishing experience. I was surprised to learn how techniques were used for hot and cold bath experience in the days when technology was not available. The artisans in ancient times were able to recreate what we experience today by channeling water and airflow. Hamman or bath was directly accessible from Sheesh Mahal.
10. Dilaram Bagh
Although commonly referred to as Dilaram Bagh, it is actually Dil-Aaram Bagh. This garden is at a road level and one needs to walk through it to access the stairs to Amer Fort. The garden is patterned on Char Bagh’s design influenced by the Mughal style. There are beautiful pavilions on the left side towards Maota lake built in red sandstone. These pavilions are a great place to get your pictures clicked for Instagram with a backdrop of beautiful Amer Fort.
11. Jaleb Chowk
Irrespective of how you arrive at Amer Fort, Jaleb Chowk is where you alight. It is a huge courtyard where generals & soldiers congregated on all important occasions. The word Jaleb comes from the middle east and stands for a place where the soldiers assembled. Elephant ride ends in the north-west corner of this courtyard. There are only two ways to enter Jaleb Chowk – Surajpol Gate and Chandpol Gate.
How to explore Amer Fort?
The ideal walking plan to explore Amer Fort should be in the following order:
- Jaleb Chowk
- Ganesh Pol
- Diwan E Khas/ Sheesh Mahal
- Sukha Niwas
- Suhag Mandir
- Zenana Deori
- Amer-Jaigarh Tunnel
- Sheela Mata Mandir
Dilaram Bagh can be covered either at the start of your visit or towards the end. Adds-on in Amer town should be covered later since the rush builds up after 9.30 AM in the fort. Here is a guide map for Amer Fort with the layout.
Things To Do In Amer Fort
Amer Fort Elephant ride
I have already written on Amer fort elephant ride in 5 Reason why I love Amer Fort.
Many people consider elephant ride at Amer Fort is must do things and is most sought after Amer Fort experience. Personally, I don’t advocate any animal rides as I’m opposed to using animals for this purpose. I’ll let readers decide what is best for them.
Elephant ride is available until 11 AM. Thereafter you can either use a golf cart or jeep ride to Amer Fort. Currently, the Elephant ride charge is Rs 1100 for a one-way ride & seats two adults. Many people oppose the idea of using an elephant as it’s considered cruel. There have been many online petitions for animal cruelty against Amer Fort elephant rides.
Amer Fort elephant ride is numbered and available only till 11 AM. Because it is a big draw among the tourists, often there is a big queue before you can find your turn. It’s best to reach the elephant ride boarding point by 8 AM.
Amer Fort electric vehicle golf ride costs Rs 40 one way. It is available from elephant boarding point to Jaleb Chowk -the main square in the fort.
Amer Fort Heritage Water Walk
This is a great way to explore the secrets of Amer Fort which are not accessible for the tourist. This heritage water walk needs to be booked in advance as it is conducted by a water expert and not available for the walk-ins. You still need to buy an entrance ticket for Amer Fort, therefore, it is best to club it with your Amer Fort visit. The walk takes 1.5-2 hours and takes you through the hidden areas of Amer Fort.
Travel Tips for Amer Fort
Amer Fort Timing
Amer Fort is open from 8 AM- 5.30 PM and is part of the Jaipur Night tourism program, Amer Fort by Night. Amer Fort at night can be visited from 6.30 PM to 9.15 PM under the night tourism initiative – Jaipur By Nite.
Amer Fort Distance from Jaipur
Amer Fort is 11 km from Johari Bazar; a driving distance of 20 minutes. During a heavy rush, it stretches to 45 minutes. The cheapest way to reach Amer Fort is via a bus which can be boarded at Badi Chaupar near Hawa Mahal. Other options include hiring a tuk-tuk/autorickshaw and a taxi. Finding a taxi or auto-rickshaw/tuk-tuk from Amer to Jaipur is not difficult. You can also use the UBER or Ola app for hiring a taxi.
Amer Fort Tickets And Entry Fee Charges
Amer Fort Entry ticket is priced at Rs 100 for Indian visitor, Rs 500 for a foreign visitor, Rs 100 for foreign students, and Rs 10 for Indian students ( student/ school identity card is mandatory for availing subsidized price).
You can buy a composite ticket to save money. This composite ticket works well for these sites – Amer Fort, Albert Hall, Jantar Mantar, Nahargarh Fort, Isar Lat, Sisodia Rani Garden, and Vidhyadar Garden. Composite ticket costs Rs 300 for Indian visitor, Rs 40 for Indian students, Rs 200 for foreign students, and Rs 1000 for a foreign visitor. It can be booked at http://www.bookrajmonuments.in
Where to park your car in Amer Fort
There are two options for car parking at Amer Fort. The first one is opposite to the fort on the main road near the elephant ride boarding point. There is a small privately managed parking lot where you can park your car. It is difficult to find space here during the high season. If you choose to park here then you can hire a jeep to take you to the fort entrance.
The second option is to drive your car to the parking lot behind the Amer Fort. You need to drive through the lanes of Amer town to reach this parking lot. The advantage is that you get to reach the fort directly. Do note that during the high season finding a parking spot becomes difficult. The trick is to park furthest to avoid a traffic jam. The parking charges are reasonable as compared to the one on the main road.
How to reach Amer Fort
Amer Fort is well-connected with Jaipur through public bus service, auto-rickshaw/ tuk-tuk, and taxis. You can also hire bicycles and bikes to visit Amer Fort. Uber and Ola taxi app can be used to reach Amer Fort.
The Amer fort is located on a hill and can be reached from the main road by an elephant ride, golf cart, jeep taxi, your own vehicle or taxi. Walking to Amer Fort is another option if you are fit enough. It takes around 10-20 minutes to reach the ticket window from the main road. The best way is to walk to Amer Fort when the weather is pleasant because it allows you to enjoy the beautiful views.
Places To Visit Near Amer Fort
There are many things which can be clubbed up with your Amer visit. Here are a few places and experiences that can be added to make it a more compelling trip.
Panna Meena Kund
Panna Meena Kund is a beautifully restored ancient step-well that you can add to your Amer Fort visit. This Baori or step-well is located in Amer Town and can be easily reached with the help of google maps. It’s an active structure which is still used by the local community (not for drinking purpose though). You can find the complete details in my post on Panna Meena Kund -Hidden Jewel Of Amer
Jagat Shiromani Temple
Jagat Shiromani Temple is one of its kind. Masterpiece. The temple has beautiful carvings and is built using a variety of stones. There is an interesting story as to why this was constructed. You can find the complete details in my post on Jagat Shiromani Temple.
Ambikeshwar Mahadev Temple
Ambikeshwar Temple can easily pass off as an ordinary temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. However, the uniqueness of the temple is that it is set lower than the road level. It has a Shiva lingam which is set below the ground. During monsoon, the temple gets submerged in water. You can find the complete details in my post – Ambikeshwar Temple, A protagonist in the history of Amer
Anokhi Museum Of Hand Printing Jaipur
The Anokhi Museum is set in an old restored haveli of Amer. Anokhi is a Jaipur based brand engaged in the business of hand block printed garments. You can visit the Anokhi museum to explore the history of organic hand block printed fabric for which Jaipur is famous. One can explore many types of hand blocking printing techniques like Dabu, Ajrakh, and Bagh among others. Read The Anokhi Museum- Truly Anokhi?
Check out my previous post on 5 Reasons why I love Amer Fort.
Amer Fort Light and Sound Show
If you love exploring the history of Amer Fort, don’t miss Amer Light and Sound Show which takes place every evening near Kesar Kyari in Maota lake, Amer. This show runs in two editions – Hindi and English. The cost of Amer Fort light and sound show is around Rs 300. The narratives of this show feature famous Indian superstar Amitabh Bachchan.
It is being claimed that years ago Kesar or saffron was grown in this garden. The logic for having this garden in the middle of a lake is that water helped create a suitable climate to grow Kesar. As such Jaipur or Rajasthan doesn’t have conducive weather conditions for growing saffron. The only place where saffron is cultivated on a big scale in India is Kashmir. It is likely that the idea of growing saffron in Jaipur came into being during the conquest missions of Raja Man Singh I who fought for the Mughals till Persian borders. We really have no clue whether they were successful in growing saffron or not. All we are left with is the name – Kesar Kyari. Currently, assorted plants have been planted here.
Even though most people club their visit to Jaigarh Fort with Nahargarh Fort, few adventurous people prefer to visit Jaigarh Fort from Amer Fort. Jaigarh Fort was built as a defense mechanism for Amer Fort and therefore it is perched higher than Amer Fort.
Both these forts are connected through a walkway and a tunnel. I have already featured the tunnel earlier in this blog. One of the prime attractions of Jaigarh Fort is the Jaivan cannon, considered one of the biggest cannons in the world. Technically, Jaivan makes in the list of iron balls/ shots category only for there are other huge cannons that used either stone shots or explosive shells.
How to reach Jaigarh Fort from Amer Fort
You can either use the Amer-Jaigarh tunnel to reach Jaigarh Fort or use the pathway. The pathway can be accessed from the Surajpol gate. Ask one of the guards to help you locate the walking path. The Amer Jaigarh tunnel merges into this path once it ceases to be subterraneous. Do note that this pathway is uphill; not difficult but it will require effort and time. Certainly not recommended in the summer season! Amer Fort to Jaigarh Fort walking route should be attempted only by fit and adventurous people because it requires a lot of time, energy, and efforts. Here is a picture of the walking route.
Should you Hire a Guide for Amer Fort?
It’s best to hire an approved guide or an audio guide when you visit Amer Fort. Without context and information, you probably won’t enjoy your visit to Amer Fort. Official guides charge Rs 200 to Rs 500 for a tour. Check for valid identification of a guide. Only authorized guides are permitted for tours in Amer Fort.
Tourist Scams in Jaipur
Do not fall for the tourist trap and scam popular in Jaipur in the name of a “Factory visit” or a “Museum tour”. Guides and drivers lure the tourists in tourist shops & emporiums and earn hefty commissions. Stay clear of any sweet-sounding deals. Amer road is full of such “tourist traps”.
Restaurants at Amer Fort
If you love touristy experiences you can try an upmarket restaurant in Amer Fort – 1165 AD near Shila Mata temple. Apart from this, there’s a Café Coffee Day outlet near the exit gate.
It’s a bit shabby but popular among the tourists. The best place to enjoy your coffee is the one overlooking Jaigarh Fort and Amer town from the seating area right behind the cafe.
The best place to enjoy your coffee is with this view? The outdoor seating area in Cafe Coffee Day.
Places to eat near Amer Fort
Sadly, there aren’t many good options to eat near Amer Fort. There’s a Cafe Coffee Day outlet near Elephant stand, Stag cafe, and a few local Dhabas on the main road but none of them are worth talking about.
If you are fine with eating at a local Dhaba you can try Jagdamba Dhaba on the Amer road opposite to Dilaram Bagh entrance. This Dhaba still uses old-age methods of cooking on a coal oven. The food is neither very spicy nor greasy, unlike most Dhabas. It is a pocket-friendly place. It serves North Indian food only. Jagdamba has been recommended in some of the best travel guides on Jaipur like Jaipur Love by Fiona Caulfield.
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When to avoid visiting Amer Fort?
Amer Fort is a popular attraction attracts a large number of visitors and can get extremely crowded at times. It is best not to visit for a long weekend. Also, it can be very crowded during Navratras because of the large number of devotees visiting the Sheela Mata temple. At times, tourist entry to Amer Fort is also closed because of the rush.
If you are keen to read more on Amer Fort history and Amer fort walls, you can refer to an additional resource in Why the loss of the great wall of Amer Fort is inevitable?
Here are a few pictures from this post.
The beauty of Amer Fort cannot be described in words or pictures. You’ve got to experience it in person. Many travelers find Amer Fort as the best that the Pink City can offer. While some are in awe with the architecture of Amer Fort, others love its beautiful setting with commanding views of the valley. Everyone has their own reasons. Likewise, you have to find your own.