The Jaigarh Cannon Foundry
The Jaigarh cannon foundry, built by Bhagwan Das in the 16th century, is one of
the few surviving medieval foundries in the world. It has a furnace, lathe,
tools and a collection of cannons. It was Bhagwan's adopted son, Man Singh I,
who brought the secret of gunpowder from Kabul in 1584 where the latter was the
commander-in-chief of Akbar's army. Soon cannons began to be made in Jaigarh,
much to the displeasure of the Mughals who kept the secret to themselves ever
since they used it to fight the Lodis and Rajputs in 1526 (check History of
Delhi for more). There's a point called Damdama (meaning 'continuous firing'),
where there used to be a battery of ten cannons positioned to check any
approaching army. This faces the Delhi Road. This led some to believe that Man
Singh was secretly preparing for a showdown with his Mughal allies.
Seven Storeyed- Diya Burj
The highest point in Jaigarh is the seven-storeyed Diya Burj, the turret of
lamps from where you get a panoramic view of the city of Jaipur. Also
interesting is the water supply and storage system of the fort, a real marvel of
planning. Sagar Talav, with octagonal bastions and huge dams, is one of the
fort's grand reservoirs. The scarcity of water has always exercised the
ingenuity of the Rajasthanis, also accounting for the existence of the several
baoris or baolis (stepwells) in the state. There are some temples within the
fort. The 10th century Shri Ram Hari Har Temple houses images of three gods -
Rama, Vishnu and Shiva. It has an interesting doorway. Nearby is the 12th
century Kal Bhairava Temple.
The museum of artefacts tells the story of the Jaigarh Fort and its vast
well-protected treasury. There is an interesting collection of paintings,
photographs and coins, and other things like a balance for measuring explosives
and several containers including a 16th century coin container. Don't miss
the royal kitchen and dining hall; after all food and hospitality were also very
much a part of Rajput agenda.
The Palace Complex
The palace complex, built by various kings over a period of two centuries, has
the usual structure beginning with the Diwan-i-Aam (Hall of Public Audience).
But it goes a step ahead of the Amber Fort in terms of defense; it has a Khilbat
Niwas (Commanders' Meeting Hall) in place of the Diwan-i-Khas (Hall of Private
Audience). There's also the open pillared hall, Subhat Niwas. But these are
insignificant structures as compare to the ones in Amber Fort. This part of the
fort is full of secret back passages for royal escape in times of emergency. The
luxury suites are very much there - the breezy Aram Mandir (Rest House) and the
16th century Vilas Mandir (Pleasure House). The former has a lovely garden
attached to it. It was in the charming courtyard of the latter that the royal
ladies had their little parties, janani majlis. The pavilions surrounding the
courtyard, with a maze of passages, offer excellent views of Amber.
The Lakshmi Vilas Palace
The Lakshmi Vilas Palace is a beautiful experience, with some lovely frescoes in
blue and the remains of an old Mughal garden. It also has a little 'theater'
hall where the rajas had their share of entertainment - dance, music recitals
and puppet shows. Do stop by at this Puppet Theatre which has been revived by
some locals who hold charming shows. This old tradition of puppetry continues to
be a popular folk entertainment in Rajasthan today, and tourists take a huge
delight in watching such shows.