This imposing fortress-palace was built as part of the ancient capital of Jaipur state. Situated on a rocky mountainside, Amber Fort is stunning sand gold in the morning light. A quick 9-rupee (12 cents) local bus ride gets us to the base in record time, just in time to see 300 tourists queued up in the sun to ride an elephant to the top of the hill, about half a kilometer up. The fortress/palace is imposing, but empty. All things of value were taken to the new palace in Jaipur. The bonus was that there was another fort, Jaigarh Fort, at the very top of the mountain another kilometer uphill. This fortress makes no pretence of being a palace—build purely for defence it is imposing and worth the climb. The biggest cannon in the world can be found on the ramparts. Made in 1720 it is 18 feet long and weighs 50 tomes. It took 220 pounds of gunpowder to fire the projectile a distance of 30 kilomters. Given the obvious inaccuracy of such a cannon, it seem a waste of gunpowder. Then, to the Maharajah size matters.
In a rather plain Jaigarh Restaurant, next to the old walls we took a chance on lunch. Some of the best food in India was eaten here. The cook (owner’s father) was the chef of the previous Maharaja and was given this choice spot for a restaurant as his retirement. His claim to fame, that he has cooked for Queen Elizabeth. Oh India—each day is a surprise—some good, some bad, some incredible.
By mid-afternoon, we made our way to the high mountain ridge above Jaipur to Nalagarh Fort. Here again the purpose of this palace was to offer the women of the ruler’s household a view of the world. Built a few hundred years ago it has remained original, and through its many suites of rooms. The wives were royally treated and equal as all the room were the same. By dusk, we walked down the steep switchback road to the old city below. Three forts in one day, a memorable day!