PHOTOWALK: JAIGARH


The grandeur and richness of the architecture of Amer Palace is over whelming but have you ever thought how protection and safety of this royal enclave and the settlement of Amer was ensured?

If your eyes have seen enough of the lavish lifestyle of the Kachhawaha rulers of Amer, and your sight has yet not been completely dazzled by the shimmering mirrors of the Sheesh Mahal and the cool breeze of the Chaman bageechi inside the Diwan-i-am has not yet put you into a slumber then look up and glance around at the Aravalli ranges surrounding Amer town, all around you will find the vestiges of fortifications, bastions and a quaint little fort sitting discreetly on top of one of the ranges overlooking the palace complex watching over and guarding the royal enclave like a silent sentinel completely merging with the hills. This is Jaigarh, the symbol of the might and strength of the Kachhawaha rulers.

Jaigarh fort located on the northern hill range of the Aravalies, the oldest mountains in the country had immense military and strategic importance for the Kachhawaha rulers of Amer and housed a strong army. Apart from its military significance the fort has a unique water harvesting and management system, unparalleled, the world over. Three different systems of rainwater collection, storage and supply exist in the fort. The several hundred thousand gallons of water stored in the tanks was sufficient to last the large number of inhabitants for several years in case of a siege. The traditional systems of water harvesting, management, water purification and supply are unique and exhibit the exceptional scientific and technological levels of achievement of the medieval period. Invented hydraulic works, channels and aqueducts conducting water from several kilometres and comprehensive procedures to equip the fort with sustainable potable water are unparalleled landmarks in history.

The fort also has within its strong walls, gardens, a granary, an armoury, a well planned cannon foundry, temples, a high watch tower known as Diva Burj and a giant mounted cannon – the Jai Ban, one of the largest in the country. The cannon has a 20 feet long barrel and weighs 50 tons.

There is another very interesting aspect of Jaigarh. The fort is also said to have housed the fabled wealth of the Kachhawaha rulers of Amer. A massive treasure hunt was launched inside the premises. The ambitious search for the hidden royal treasure inside the fort by the Government of India involved large-scale manual and mechanical digging activity at various spots inside the fort that was undertaken once in 1975 and for about five months in 1976. What was found in the treasure hunt remains a closely guarded secret best known to the people who were part of the operation but the hunt has definitely left its scars on the fort . . .

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