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Amber and Sanganer

The Amber Fort, probably the best palace we have seen on our travels! They just seem to be getting better and better. This, the old capital of Rajastan, was the political powerhouse of the kingdom and the palace is suitably lavish.




first view of the palace with the fort behind

Laid out in a series of simple squares, the courtyards rise up from the public areas, through the kings reception areas, and to the Queens quarters. The whole plan is then flanked by concubines on one side and eunuchs on the other, really simple, really elegant. Every morning the elephants ferry tourists up the steep hairpins to the Kings entrance, dropping them off in the main lower square. As we arrived via the back gate, the drums and trumpets started, probably a co-incidence, but as we watched they started waving.

In a flash, we scurried up the stairs to the balcony, and in front of the crowds on the square, we had a go at drumming and trumpeting. Luckily, I don’t think too many people realised, but it was great fun and we all had a go.

the balcony and the big drum

we had a go at the trumpets too.

We also decided to hire a guide, a pleasant chap, but with the irritating habit of constantly answering his mobile whilst trying to tell us about the palace. In the end, we were obviously too slow, so he handed us to someone else and ran off to pick up his next load of tourists. Whilst we did have him, we had an interesting half hour finding out about the king and all his many pleasures.

the elephants were great, plodding up the hairpins from the lake

After a quick photo of of the Water Palace on the outskirts of Jaipur, it was time to start scouring the streets of Sanganer for the famous block printing. Eventually with the help of Sukhdeep, we tracked down the Blue Pottery Factory, part pottery and part textile workshop, where for a small tip they showed us around and even let the kids have a go at some of the block printing. This is a dyeing art  [sic] in these areas, 5 years ago there were 10 factories in this neighbourhood, now there is only this one, kept afloat by a mention in Lonely Planet.

the stoneware pots, after all the hard work painting, about 40% explode in the kiln!

traditional block printing - not many of these old boys left now.

Nearly all textile printing is now mechanised, and often made to look like hand-printed, complete with mistakes; the way to tell is look at the back, hand printed has a variation  of ink bleed, a machine print is uniform.  A bag of fabrics later and we were back in the car to our hotel for our staple dal and roti.

spit and vomit out of the window - always the sign of a satisfied customer.


  1. Vinish
    March 25, 2012 at 9:03 am

    Indeed, It is one of the finest forts in India. One of my favourite too. The architecture is simply amazing, its courtyards, levels and jali walls ( perforated screens).
    The beauty of this fort is also its climate sensitive design w.r.t. to its local materials, ventilation and evaporative cooling strategy through landscape as well as water ponds (existed when maharajas used to live).

    • March 31, 2012 at 11:27 am

      The places are all amazing – it is one stunning sight after another. In Varanasi at the moment, a really extreme place with stunning views and hectic life in amongst a fervent religious festival. Great to see, but sort of scary at the same time. Glad we are here though – pretty unforgettable.
      Take care and regards to you all,

      Alan, Jo, Kai, Elena & Theo

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