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A visit to Jaipur's Amber Fort in Rajasthan
Recently, I took my relatives to Amber Fort for sight-seeing. The fort near Jaipur is located high on a hill called Cheel ka Teela. The fort is an important tourist attraction popular for its artistic Hindu style structural elements along with a few Mughal elements.

With its huge ramparts, series of gates and cobbled paths, the fort overlooks Maota Lake which had worked as the main source of water for the Amer Palace in its earlier years.

Constructed of red sandstone and marble the fort cum palace is laid out on four levels, each with a courtyard. The entrance to the palace near the fort's Ganesh Gate, there is a temple dedicated to Shila Devi, a goddess of the Chaitanya cult, built in 1604.

Another courtyard of the fort consists of the Diwan-i-Aam, the Diwan-i-Khas and the Sheesh Mahal or Jai Mandir, and the Sukh Niwas where a cool climate is artificially created by winds that blow over a water channels and cascades within the palace. Thus, this courtyard has two buildings, one opposite to the other, separated by a garden laid in the fashion of the Mughal Gardens.

The building to the left of the entrance gate is called the Jai Mandir, also known as Sheesh Mahal or mirror palace, which is exquisitely embellished with glass inlaid panels and multi-mirrored ceilings. The mirrors are of convex shape and designed with coloured foil and paint which would glitter bright under candlelight at the time it was in use.

It is said that the Sheesh Mahal was built by king Man Singh in 16th century and completed in 1727. The walls around the hall hold carved marble relief panels. The hall provides enchanting vistas of the Maota Lake.

The third courtyard is where the private quarters of the Maharaja, his family and attendants were located.  This courtyard of the palace is the pillared pavilion with frescoes and coloured tiles decorate rooms on the ground and upper floors. This was used as the meeting venue by the maharanis that also have open balconies.

In the fourth courtyard, also called the Zenana, where in the royal family women, including concubines or mistresses lived. The rooms have been build in such a way that it facilitated the  king to visit the queen his choice without being found out as to which queen he was visiting.

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