Jaipur Offbeat-memorable walk with Virasat Experiences

During one of our days at JW Marriott Jaipur resort and spa, we had some buffer time in the morning. Anurag Mallick was keen to experience a walk offered by Virasat Experiences- a curated travel experience company in Jaipur that organizes walks and other unique activities. All we had to do was tag along. 
The walk we did was near the popular Amer fort-behind it to be particular. The walk covered an old palace, known as Narsingh Haveli where royal family lived (while Amer Fort was being constructed) and a few other places of interest. This post tries to give you a snapshot of what we experienced.
The Narsingh Haveli or former royal residence
This old palace, also known as "Palace below the hill" was where the Royal family lived while the Amer fort was being constructed. Today the dissidents of royal priest’s family live here. We were told ASI is trying to evict them without compensation and take possession of the building- but the priest’s family was given ownership of this place by the king and hence see no reason to move out- that too without a suitable replacement house and compensation, they find it naturally unfair.
The palace had two entrances- one for army and elephants, another for members of the royal family, who will be carried in palanquins
As we step inside, there’s a small hall- from where king could address the crowd below, or simply relax.
Above: Durbar hall
Below: View of entrance from Durbar hall
Walls had provision for lamp posts. The building has a complicated network of doors, passages, steps and rooms- this is for multiple reasons- to confuse introducing enemy soldiers as well as  to give separate access to staff. An escape path also is believed to exist somewhere deep inside.

We were shown the inside rooms, where members of royal family could take refuge during severe weather- Rajasthan gets extremely hot in summer plus strong winds and storms make outdoor living difficult- the walls of the palace were built so thick, it could successfully maintain a cooler temperate inside and offer protection from both elements and enemy attacks.
We saw a mini temple inside- of the Narsimha (or Lord Shiva)-the legend is that as long as the temple and the idol is maintained intact, the rule of the area will be with the royal family. Only men are allowed to go closer to the temple, women need to view from a distance.




We could see an arch, said to be made from a single piece of marble, showcasing all avatars of Vishnu and several hundred gods of Hinduism.

We saw the inner court yard used mostly by female members of the family and the room used by senior most lady of the house.
Above: Window in the wall- notice the thickness of the wall.

The whole building, though still physically very strong, has its exteriors deteriorating over time. There is no king to patron and government has no intention to renovate it unless they get to own it. So the interiors are maintained with bare minimum money the priest’s family can afford.

The building was constructed using limestone, which reportedly took 60 days of preparation effort. The quality of materials and level of engineering available on those days still astonish us, as the wall has stood strong over centuries, battling weather, wars and more.

Next we visited Meera Krishna temple
This temple houses a Krishna statue, said to be the one cared for by Meera, who used to carry Krishna idols with her all the time. The temple wall is all red stones. Near the entrance there’s a beautiful mantap with a Garuda statue inside.


We were told about the significance of having elephant statues near temple entrances- there were private havelies and havelies with temples accessible to public. The presence of elephant near the temple entrance signifies the temple portion is open to public to come in and pray
.
Next stop was Ambikeshwar Mahadev temple
This temple is the reason when the area is known as Amer. The temple is located below ground level so it gets flooded if there’s lots of rains.


The banyan tree in front of the temple served as a meeting place and a large well next to it served water to the community.


The next stop was step wells, known as Panna Miah Kund
Very scenic and reminded me of the ones I had seen in Hampi. These step wells have gradually reducing surface- the purpose was to reduce evaporation of water- as water level goes down, the exposed surface area also goes down, due to steps closing in. Thus less water is evaporated. The wells were also used for diving and swimming practice. A security guard has been deployed to ensure no one gets on the steps. Tourists can only walk around and click pictures- not allowed to go to bottom of the well.
The final stop was a dam or Sagar Lake. Meant for water storage, the negligible quantity of water that was remaining indicates the scarcity of water in Rajasthan. At the centre of the dam was a platform, which was reportedly used by kings to relax after a boat ride in the dam under moonlight.

Our walk lasted for about 2 hours. Duration depends on how much time guests can afford to spend- if you have more time they can include more attractions, trekking trails and spend more time at each place. As you can see in the map, there’re dozens of temples and places of interest around. If you have more time, I think you can spend an entire day exploring these lesser known spots around Amer fort. We were told most guests typically take this train after exploring Amer fort

Here's a route map of our walk- not too long [Map link]
Besides the one we experienced, Virasat Experiences offer various other activities in Jaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and other cities in Rajasthan. Treks, cycle tours etc are few other activities one can try. The walk we did cost about INR 1700 or around 25 USD per person Do check their website for details. The fee only includes services of  trained guide who will take you around and explain the historical significance. It does not include local transport, refreshments or anything else you may need during your walk.

You can check Virasat's website for more details

8 comments:

  1. I'm sure you must have enjoyed this heritage trail, Srinidhi. There is a lot more to Amer town than just these places; given the fact that you had limited time these are indeed great places to explore

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    1. Thanks. Yes, we had limited time. May be more next time

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  2. These are some interesting and offbeat places. Will keep in mind for our next trip.

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  3. Amazing place. Nice to read.
    Beautiful photos.

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  4. Wonderful post. Hope you had a great time in Jaipur :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, had good time. Couldn't meet your friends..

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