unexplored-places-to-visit-amer-fort-heritage-water-walk-jaipur

How To Explore The Secrets Of Amer Fort With A Water Walk

“Hi! I have Amer Heritage Water Walk coming up next week. Do you care to join?” It was Neeraj on the other side. I instantly confirmed my presence.

I first met Neeraj in 2015 during Nahargarh Heritage Water Walk being the privileged few to undertake this walk before its launch. Neeraj is a water expert who has graduated from Tufts University & The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, USA and has worked in the US before returning to India to pursue his passion. He runs a water consultancy company and organizes heritage water walks in Jaipur and was instrumental in creating & organizing Jaigarh Fort Water Walk till a few years ago.

Read Nahargarh Heritage Water Walk: A unique experience

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Amer & Nahargarh Heritage Water Walks were launched simultaneously and I have been wanting to do the former but somehow, it didn’t happen for the last three and half years! In many ways, the Amer Fort Water Walk is special. Why? Let me answer this in the end.

Read Amer Fort: The only guide you will ever need

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A majestic view of Amer Fort

It was the last day of January and luckily, the afternoon wasn’t as cold as the last few days with the sun shining brightly. I was waiting in Jaleb Chowk for the rest of the people who had booked the walk. As soon as they arrived, Neeraj introduced everyone & started the walk. He led us all through the Udai Pol towards the Balidan Gate.

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Exploring the less explored sections of Amer Fort

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The briefing & introduction about the walk took on a terrace of the storage tank at level 3. Neeraj explained how the system of carrying water until this point from level 1 to level 3 was different in comparison to level 4 onward.

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Neeraj briefing with the help of Amer Fort map
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Level 1 to 3 of the water transport system

Apparently, Amer Fort relied on two different sources for water. Maota Lake supplied a large volume of water to the fort through a specially designed water transport system. It consisted of various levels each having intermediary storage tanks.

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Maota Lake as seen from level 5

Transporting the water relied on age-old simple machinery propelled by both human workforce and domesticated animals. Systems & mechanisms in Amer Fort were influenced by Mughals. Rulers of Amer were generals in the Mughal army and led many conquests from Afghanistan to Bangladesh. It is natural for the Mughal influence and systems to percolate in the Amer Fort.

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The building that houses the water transport system and storage tanks.

While level 1 to 3 is accessible to everyone, entry to level 4 & onward is under lock & key, accessible through this heritage water walk only.

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The hidden areas of Amer Fort

Level 4 has a room which used to house men trusted with supplying water to the residential areas of the Amer Fort.

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Level 4 chamber

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Level 5 has a mechanism to transport the water through Rehat – a Persian wheel and a heating system. It is astonishing how incredible these mechanisms were and they served well for years.

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Ancient Persian Wheel
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Water heating system

A flight of step took us to the Mansingh Mahal & Zenana area of Amer Fort, the residential quarters of the queens.

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In no time, we were led into a well through the flight of steps. This underground well under Mansingh Mahal stored a few thousand liters of fresh water collected through the rainwater harvesting system meant for drinking purpose. Surprisingly, the well had lots of water because the system is still functional.

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We were crisscrossing from tourist sections like Zenana Mahal & Sukh Mahal to some of the hidden sections of Amer Fort – a water distribution system on the terrace.

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At Man Singh Mahal & Zenana
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Sukh Niwas

Two most interesting elements that I saw was an old water pipe made from clay and a water redistribution center. Water channeled into different areas of Amer Fort through a redistribution center.

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Water redistribution system
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Ancient water pipe

Despite the lack of technology 500-600 years ago, it is spellbinding;  it was a sophisticated system that worked on simple principles of physics. If you have ever been to Amer Fort you must have seen the ingenious system of using water to cool hot desert air in Sukh Niwas. It replicates the experience of having an air conditioner.

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Towards the end of the walk, we entered a secret water chamber having a water reservoir. The large open area was a meeting place used by the royalty during the hot & dry summer months. A fountain provided mist & humidity whereas the lattices cooled the entire hall with the air flow.

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Despite visiting Amer Fort so many times, I have never seen or heard of this section. It is at a stone-throw distance from the most popular attraction points of Amer Fort – Ganesh Pol, Diwan-e-Aam, and Chhatis Kachari.

The Amer Fort Water walk culminated at this point and we walked back to the Jaleb Chowk. I looked up and saw the clouds playing hide and seek with the sun.

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Looking up at Jaleb Chowk

Amer Fort Heritage Water Walk was interesting because it is unlike the story dispensed by most tourist guides. They narrate the palatial & opulent tales that kings and queens used to live. It is difficult to verify the authenticity of such legends in the absence of written records or information.

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On the contrary, heritage water walk uncovers the elements that made this life possible and it is based on a scientific investigation. We all know how most civilizations developed and prospered in and around the water sources. The lack of water led to the downfall of many civilizations; while some fled & migrated others perished. Rajasthan being water deficient region pioneered in water conservation & harvesting systems. I have never experienced something similar as a traveler and tourist in any city or settlement, at least in India! World over many regions are headed towards water scarcity; this heritage walk unravels the mindset & outlook of our ancestors towards a scarce resource – water. It paves the way for making life possible in difficult circumstances.

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This walk allowed me to visit many sections not accessible to the tourists and it is a great way to explore the secrets of Amer Fort. It is a great offbeat thing to do in Jaipur; a hidden gem of the pink city.

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Here is a short video which explains this water walk. Kindly enable the subtitles since the voice quality is poor.

 

Here are fast facts about Amer Fort and the heritage water walk.

What is Amer Fort?

Amer Fort is the most popular tourist attraction in Jaipur. It is a palace and former capital of the Jaipur kingdom. It was replaced by Jaipur as a capital in 1727 AD by Maharajah Sawai Jai Singh II. Amer Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and clustered under “Hill Forts of Rajasthan”.

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Amer Fort Location and Distance?

Amer Fort is part of Jaipur municipal limit and is 11 km from the city center.

Amer Fort Timing?

Amer Fort is open from 8 AM to 5.30 PM  and 6.30 PM to 9.15 PM.

What are Places to visit in Amer Fort?

While the top attractions in Amer Fort are elephant ride, Sheesh Mahal, and Ganesh Pol, there are many more interesting things to see. You can read this complete guide on Amer Fort for all these details.

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Sheesh Mahal

How to undertake the Amer Fort Heritage Water Walk?

Amer Fort Heritage Water Walk can be undertaken by prior booking only. One cannot buy tickets for the same at Amer Fort ticket window. If you are interested kindly send your contact details via email jaipurthrumylens @gmail.com.

What is the duration of the Amer Fort Heritage Water Walk?

The walk takes around 1.5-2 hours. Ideally, one should club it with a visit to Amer Fort to save time.

What is the difficulty level of the Amer Fort Heritage Water Walk?

The water walk can be undertaken by any fit person. It involves walking and taking the flight of steps throughout the fort area. The walk can be modified to suit the groups’ requirement.

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Things to carry with you for  the Amer Fort Heritage Water Walk

Good walking shoes, drinking water, camera, notepad, and pen if you like taking notes. The walk is best enjoyed with uninterrupted attention.

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83 thoughts on “How To Explore The Secrets Of Amer Fort With A Water Walk

    1. It is true that all civilizations developed near water source – Mesopotamian, Chinese, Egyptian, and Indian. Water was very important element for the survival of life. I’m glad you liked this post. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s ok not brilliant. There’s still water restrictions which means people are trying to use water wisely. Luckily we got unexpected rain last year and that saved the situation. And Germany has donated a lot of money to the city to help build infrastructure needed to deliver water.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. wow! Rains surely must provided a breather. In any case, wise use of resource is good. By the way, why this problem arose in the first case? Any idea? It is not a water deficit region for sure.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Ok. I guess the city must looking forward to the reverse osmosis water conversion plant which uses sea water. Many Middle East countries rely on such plants for water.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I am thinking how cognizant people were that time compared to people today. They made such meticulous arrangements for optimal water usage. And, you are bang on when you say about what the tourist guides take you through as I have experienced it in Amer Fort. If I go to Jaipur again, this is how I’d like to see Amer Fort.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Let me book one for you Neel (in advance). I always feel that there are many differences between a tourist and a traveler. Tourist loves the usual thing and also stories. Travelers however, want to try something new/ offbeat and loves historical facts and not cooked up stories.

      Well, we have certain luxuries which our ancestors didn’t have. You will be surprised how sophisticated these systems are even though they date back to 16th century. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for the offer, Arvind! i will surely connect with you next time I go. And, I myself used to be a tourist until recently, so i totally understand what you mean. I used to always travel but now I travel so very differently.
        I can tell the sophistication of the water systems from your descriptions.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m glad you have made that transition. It definitely allows you to look at things from a different perspective. You start appreciating the finer details and your entire experience is different from that of a tourist.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Madhura. Having undertaken such water walks, I feel this is something that involves patience and inquisitiveness and is more suited for explorers and travelers. This walk is best enjoyed when you are willing to travel the “roads less traveled”. There already are other options which are open for tourists but only a few of them opt for it like a tunnel which connects Amer with Jaigarh Fort. Also, some of these places are not suitable for large number of people. If you like this walk, you should consider yourself a traveler and not a tourist. 🙂
      Do let me know whenever you are in town, I will connect you with the right person. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I understand! I had visited Amer a few years ago and though the guide provided us with a lot of intriguing information, as you mentioned earlier, it was fabricated to entertain majority of tourists. I just wish such detailed information was easily available for willing people. I will definitely contact you when I visit Jaipur the next time. I am a sucker for history and everything related to it! Can never get enough of Jaipur or any place in Rajasthan for that matter 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I guess these stories are universal across the world. Have you heard about Haunted tourism in UK? As a part of guided tours tourists are greeted with “ghosts” look alike to give a “haunted” experience. You are right, Rajasthan has a lot to offer for history lovers. As for the information being made available to the tourists, there isn’t much available in terms of written records; you will find information mentioned at all important places in Amer Fort. Where are you originally from, Madhura?

        Liked by 1 person

      1. I have been to Amer fort may be two times. I have not seen the water works. With regular guides and touristy crowd one does not feel the place as well. Because everyone is in a hurry to move on.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. True. I prefer to pick time when the crowd is less because as you pointed out, the entire experience with crowd all around is not too great. But at times, you have no option.

        Like

      3. True. In this kind of places of historical significance, one has to go with right mind. Hardly few hundred years before there were people, their happiness and sorrow still linger.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. well said. All these places have become “Insta-worthy” places! If you were to search Instagram for Amer you will be amazed with the kind of pictures you will see… Someone posted a particular style of picture one fine day and now every female is following the trend. “Herd-Mentality” is what one can conclude. I don’t know if this is a humans nature or people from our region were born with an overdose!

        Like

  2. Interesting read. I was aware that some portions of the fort are kept in closure and distant form the regular tourists. Would love to visit inside some time. Bookmarking this post for the future.. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. What a fascinating place and post! I’d love to experience the cooling effect of this ancient system. And, I love that you point out how special this system is, especially without modern technology. Humans are quite remarkable, and they’ve always found ways to survive. That’s why we’re here today. But, it’s special to get a glimpse into the past to see exactly what our ancestors were able to accomplish. Great post!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. What is striking is that our ancestors lived in tandem with nature. Most of these system depended on nature, simple law of physics and manual labor yet they worked with precision. You are so right! Have you ever been to any old forts, Erin?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’ve got it! I wish we, as people, were more in tune with nature. I think we’d all be better off. Yes, I’ve been to several old forts – I absolutely love history, and I am always in awe over what our ancestors accomplished with little or no technology.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. How interesting! I visited Amer Fort in December the “normal” way, and I wasn’t too impressed – too many people! This would have been cool to see, though 😀
    I will try to add a link to this article when I write about Jaipur on my own blog!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hi, Samuel. Very few people find Amer Fort unimpressive. I always suggest people to avoid rush time in my blogs. I can understand how too many people can kill the place. I tend to pick time when there is less rush. Keep me posted whenever you publish a write-up, I would love to read it. So did you find something else to your liking in Jaipur, Samuel?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, The Wind Facade was pretty, but what I really liked was Jantar Mantar. Such a feat of engineering and science, yet so gorgeous ! I loved it.
        To be fair, I would have skipped Amber Fort and spent one more day in a wilder place, like Bharatpur or the Chambal River 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Certainly, Jantar Mantar is one of its kind. Considering the period when it was built and the precision of instruments, it is mind-boggling! I can understand why you want to skip Amer Fort. There are many other places to enjoy the wilderness in Rajasthan.

        Like

  5. First, let me confess, I was a bit confused at the beginning of this post. I quite stupidly thought that water walk would mean circumferencing the fort on a boat on something like that. I don’t know why I thought so because how can one walk on a boat ride also. My bad!!
    This is an extremely interesting post because this shows the intricate engineering involved in building the post. It shows how advanced thinking they had in those days. I have been to Amer fort but never knew about this walk. Next time would add this to my list. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You are not wrong in thinking this way. Water walk is not common and I guess that leads to this confusion. You are right that a lot of planning was involved in developing the water systems. Water walk in Amer is a hidden gem, so visitors are not likely to know about it. I’m sure you will enjoy taking one. Did you visit Amer recently?

      Like

    1. I’m delighted to know that you loved this post, Nurul. I agree there is an intriguing angle to the old stuff. There are many things that we haven’t been able to solve or understand. But it is amazing to know how our old generations used to live in tandem with nature. Have you also found many such amazing things during your travel, Nurul?

      Like

  6. There are many things that beguiles me about your jaipur adventures. You’ve given tribute to this traditional eden of jaipur a jewel into her renowned glory, your every pictures is in harmony with your descriptions,not monotonous but interesting to read.You should be the brand ambassador of Jaipur,literally Aarav.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for considering me worthy enough for being the brand ambassador for the city. Unfortunately, they don’t have any such option.
      Do you imply that writing follows picture or it is other way around. Although, from a cursory glance it might mean the same thing but there’s a difference.

      Thanks, for being so kind, Neha 🙂

      Like

    1. Kavitha, Amer water walk is not for everyone. It is for explorers who are looking beyond the usual. Given the nature os the walk and the engagement required, it cannot be extended to hundreds of people. I’m sure you will revisit Jaipur someday and undertake this one, Kavitha 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow! Amer Fort looks stunning with so many hidden spots. I think it’s pretty ingenious how they figured how to store water and circulate it through the undulating terrain on which the fort is built. It’s ironic how they had it figured out and we’re struggling to cope with water shortage — despite having so many devices.
    Jaipur looks so different from a local’s (your) perspective. It’s also changed a lot I think. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. As a tourist, our perspective is different when we are visiting such a place. If we visit these places as explorers, we will notice many small details. The water collection system in Nahargarh Fort is spread over larger space and uses aqueducts through valleys. It looks like this technique came from Europe where aqueducts were very common.

      As a tourists, one visit a place with a tight schedule; as a local even though I’m pressed for time, I get to visit the same place may be 2-3 times a year. That allows me to see things differently.

      Yes, the city has changed a lot over the last few years, as you have rightly pointed out, Cheryl.

      Definitely, we have moved to western lifestyle where aesthetics and adhering to standards requires a lot of wasteful use. Water is no different. We have moved away from a lifestyle where we were in tandem with nature. I don’t think we are even thinking about this issue. True? I’m sure you will have many more things to share having traveled and experienced a lot!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I never fail to be amazed at how you are able to write so much on one city and give each post a fresh angle without coming across as repetitive in your content! Kudos to your blogging skills, Arvind. 🙂 I truly admire them.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Rama for being so kind. It is all because the city offers quite a bit. Frankly, I’m not able to write as much as I experience. And there are many things that I choose not to write due to the paucity of time. Well, while I can’t travel out of town, I certainly can travel around. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

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