Sheesh Mahal

How we were bowled over by the Romance of the Palace of Mirrors in Jaipur

Sheesh Mahal

The King was inside the Sheesh Mahal or the Palace of Mirrors. It was an enchanting night and outside the stars twinkled in the cloudless night. The palace was lit with earthen lamps which flickered gently in the air as their feeble flames transformed into brilliant light as the intricate mirror work that adorned the roof and the walls reflected their light. The atmosphere inside the palace matched the magical night outside. The King was with his favourite queen and they were immersed in a deeply romantic and personal moment.

It was then that the beat of drums from afar broke the magical spell. The King instantly stood up alert and shouted orders to his bodyguards who stood discreetly outside his chambers. In a matter of minutes, the tranquility of the palace was shattered with the cry of soldiers ready to ward off the sudden attack from an enemy. An enemy had been spotted from one of the observation posts on the fortress wall that surrounded the Palace and ran for miles. An elaborate system of communication through a relay of drumbeats from the observation towers that interspersed the wall ensured that the Palace was forewarned of the impending enemy attack in the dead of the night.

“And down here is the Magic Flower”, the voice of the guide broke through the layers of fertile imagination that seemed to have taken over my mind.

We were in Amer Fort, one of the UNESCO world heritage sites and the most romantic Palaces of Rajasthan which has been home for 28 kings. Amer Fort is also known as Amber fort and within its folds that spans an area of 4 Square Kilometres lies the small town of Amer. The place is located about 11 Kilometres from Jaipur, the Capital city of Rajasthan, India. Sheesh Mahal at Amer Fort in Jaipur , Rajasthan is one of the most beautiful palaces in Rajasthan. It is a magnificent piece of architecture with with beautiful paintings and carvings embedded with colorful stones and mirrors.

To rewind a little bit we were in Rajasthan to revel in its forts, palaces, folklore and dance, cuisine and of course the desert sands. We hoped to cover the cities of Jaipur, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Pushkar, Ajmer and Udaipur in the course of our 10 day Rajasthan odyssey. The first leg of our rendezvous with Rajasthan had started with Jaipur, and of course, we proposed to end it with Jaipur too.

Sheesh Mahal

We moved towards Amer fort after having checked into our hotel.

So having set things straight, we joined ranks with hundreds of tourists on their way to visit Amer Fort. We had no qualms about appearing ‘touristy’, as you cannot afford to miss the chance of seeing the amazing Amer Fort and Palace, when in Jaipur.

What is the Amer Fort

Amer Fort is a  UNESCO world heritage sites and probably the most romantic Palaces of Rajasthan. Amer Fort is also known as Amber fort and within its fold that spans an area of 4 Square Kilometres lies the small town of Amer. The place is located about 11 Kilometres from Jaipur, the Capital city of Rajasthan, India. The Palace ensconced by the fort is a stunning example of the opulence and royal tastes of the Rajput kings of Rajasthan. The palace is constructed using marble and red sandstone and is a virtual poem in stone that tells a story of a glorious past. The palace consists of four levels and each one of them has a courtyard.

The main segments of the Palace are a hall for public gatherings, which is known as Diwan-i-Aam, a hall where the king used to entertain close associates and this is known as Diwan-i-Khas.

Two other structures separated by a well laid out Mughal style garden are the Sheesh Mahal, also known as Jai Mandir and the Sukh Niwas or Sukh Mahal. It is indeed fascinating to note that an ingenious system of cooling was used to keep the Sukh Niwas cool and protect the royal inmates from the scorching heat of the desert. Obviously, the royalty of Jaipur enjoyed the comforts of air-conditioning much before the world even thought about it!

The Sheesh Mahal or Palace of Mirrors

This is a beautiful building which was built by the King Man Singh during the 16th Century. It is a mosaic of dazzling glass and mirrors that are inlaid into the walls as well as the roof. Clever use of coloured foil with paint and convex lens has given shape to a dazzling structure that is truly stunning. If one were to travel back in time and be able to see the Sheesh Mahal as it must have looked in the 16th century, it would indeed be a heavenly sight as the mirror work and flickering candles create a kaleidoscopic effect.

Coming back to the present, it is really sad to note that the exquisite artwork in the Sheesh Mahal has not withstood the ravages of time and has deteriorated and must be a shadow of its past glory. However, the authorities have been working on restoration to ensure that the palace is at least partially restored to its original grandeur. Within the Sheesh Mahal, the walls are embellished with relief panels beautifully carved in marble.

Back to the Magic Flower

“And down here is the Magic Flower”, the voice of the guide broke through the layers of fertile imagination that seemed to have taken over my mind.

This was the point where we were awakened from our dreams of the Sheesh Mahal of the 16th century.

A small panel at the base of one of the marble pillars that grace the Sheesh Mahal is unique and a special attraction of this building. At first sight, the panel looks like a carving of two butterflies. However, it was not as simple as it looked. Our guide covered different portions of the carving with his hand, and lo and behold! the carving seemed to assume different avatars. One dexterous shift of the hands and we were staring at a fish tail, which quickly changed to a lotus flower and as quickly transformed into a sinister hooded cobra. One more swish of the hands and we looked at an elephant’s trunk which changed to a Lion’s tail in no time, the lion’s tail turned into a cob of corn which finally changed into a deadly scorpion waiting to sting an unsuspecting passer-by!

This is really magic we thought as we looked at the innocuous looking magic flower.

 

Where to stay:

Hotels are aplenty to suit every budget in Jaipur, the hotels range from palaces converted into hotels to budget and mid -range hotels. The big name hotels like Ramada and Four Points By Sheraton also have their presence in the city.

Where to eat:

There are many restaurants in and around Amer Fort. Click here to find out about some of the best places to dine.

Tips for a great experience in Amer Fort:

  • The Amer Fort is open from 8 AM to 6 PM, make sure to go there early and preferably on weekdays to avoid crowds and really enjoy the experience of seeing this beautiful fort in detail
  • The best time to visit Amer Fort is between October to March when the weather is cool
  • Enjoy the sound and light show at the Amer Fort. Click here to check out the timings

 

The treasures of the Amer fort are innumerable. As you walk on the cobbled stone paths, every turn, every nook and corner unveil a gem of artistry and innovation. Do join us as we saunter through the Amer Fort lost in time and bewitched by the beauty of the fort and its treasures on our voyage of discovery in our upcoming posts.

 

Sheesh Mahal    Sheesh Mahal

 

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Voyager - Sandy & Vyjay

We are a travel and lifestyle blogging couple, founder of Voyager site. We love to experience and enjoy this world and share these experiences with others to inspire them. We are self-confessed social media addicts.

111 thoughts on “How we were bowled over by the Romance of the Palace of Mirrors in Jaipur

  1. I’ve never been to Jaipur before and I’d love to see this palace in person. The details are simply amazing and it’s going to be quite an experience for sure!

  2. Wonderful peek into the history and the grandeur of India. Do take your time to revel in the beauty of the place which was once upon a time accessible only to the king.

  3. I think it’s great that you weren’t worried about appearing ‘touristy’ – some things are touristy for a reason! And the beautiful buildings here clearly show that! It’s a shame that the artwork has deteriorated but just imagine what it would have looked like back then!

  4. The intricate detail in the design is unreal and it’s probably even better in person! I think this will be my next to-go place in Asia. I’d love to visit India.

  5. I don’t know how I missed this when I was in Jaipur! It’s so gorgeous and I love the background story. I really want to get back to India so this is just another reason for me to return.

  6. Beautiful photos! The architecture is amazing… I feel like this is somewhere that I would want to go and spend hours looking up at the ceilings. My neck is stiff just thinking about it!

  7. Jaipur has been on my list for so long and I’m so bummed I missed it last time I was in India. Such intricate beauty everywhere!!

  8. The palace of mirrors was one of my favourite sights in India. Pictures can’t really grasp the beauty of it, but the story about the king and queen really highlights the romance of this place. I wish I had known the little details while I was there – like the shifting butterflies!

  9. a trip to india is already in the pipe for plannings for me so definitely this will be among the destinations for me when that time comes, magical experience this is. amazing.

  10. Jaipur is indeed a beautiful place. The architecture looks so intricate and cultural. When I visited Taj Mahl, I was totally impressed. I’m sure I will need to visit Jaipur too!

  11. Jaipur Palace is gorgeous. I would love to go someday. I’ve only seen a little of Jaipur through the train window; we didn’t stop. Next time we will.

  12. I totally agree. Jaipur is my favourite city and the Palace of Mirrors is simply jaw dropping. I do love the history and mystery of Rajasthan and never tire of visiting. I think I need to get back there soon.

  13. I loved Amber fort so much that I felt that I had more time to spent as I had scheduled this just before leaving Jaipur. Sheesh Mahal was my favourite part obviously! I can understand your imagination! I can happily be a tourist here!

  14. Woah this looks like a really interesting place to visit! I haven’ theard of it before but I just love the architecture already and would definitely want to check it out in person! Adding this to my bucket list!

  15. I’ve heard a lot about the Palaces of Rajasthan, and how incredible the whole region is, though hadn’t heard of Amer Fort. I would love to visit – it’s funny, I’m currently watching a TV series about Louis the 14th, King of France who commissioned the palace of Versailles, and he also commissioned a huge hall of mirrors, it’s funny how even though from different times and different cultures, side of the world, the royal mind thinks alike!

  16. Such grandeur! The palace is jaw dropping in its beauty. It is sad though that there are places in it that needs restoration. Hopefully, it gets to be brought back to its old world splendor!

  17. I remember visiting Jaipur in 2011. It was such a fairy tale town. I loved the Amber fort. Thanks for reminding me of a great vacation.

  18. Such a beautiful post Sandy! Personally I can never have enough of Rajasthan, especially Jaipur and the Sheesh Mahal there. I really enjoy visiting the city over and over again 🙂

  19. Wow, this is gorgeous! It’s awesome that they are working on restoring it – it must have really been a site back in the 16th century if it’s this beautiful now!

  20. Sandy, I have always wanted to see Seesh Mahal but always missed due to some word plans in Rajasthan. You have described the story so beautiful that this time for sure I will visit. 😍Beautiful pictures BTW..

  21. What a beautiful and intricate palace. I love all the details on the ceiling too! I don’t blame you for falling in love!

  22. Made me want to go to India! All these small details&decorations of the Palace of Mirrors look so magical! And if you wouldn´t mention the Magic Flower´s secret – I´d never realize it could be more than it looks! #feetdotravel

  23. Beautiful is not enough to describe this place! The walls and the ceiling are stunning. I wish to visit the palace of mirrors too!

  24. All of these suggestions sound wonderful. I love how beautiful all the architecture is. Palace of Mirrors sounds so unique and I agree that it probably was even more amazing when it was new. I can only imagine the kaleidoscope effect it must have emulated.

  25. Yes, been there, done that! 🙂

    You have described it so well that I want to go there again! Yet to write about it though it’s more than 3 months now.
    We liked the intricate detail in design. Loved the mirror work. It’s interesting to see how people try to capture themselves in those mirrors. 🙂

  26. Wow, it sounds amazing there! I’m so intrigued by the panel that you mentioned at the base of the pillar which changes forms. Definitely have to see this!

  27. I’ve never been to Jaipur though a very close friend traveled there a few weeks back. She gave me a lot of glowing recommendations about it. I haven’t seen her photographs but yours definitely talk about the charm that the city has.

  28. Wow, Amer Fort is stunning! I really can’t imagine how much time this must have taken to design and build. I can imagine how amazing it must have been when it was first built!

  29. Wow! If the palace is this stunning now, I can’t imagine its grandeur when it was first being used. I loved the storytelling at the beginning. It really set the mood!

  30. The details in the forts in Rajasthan are just incredible! I’m disappointed now that we didn’t make it to Amer Fort when we were there. It looks amazing! Great to hear that restoration and preservation is a priority there.

  31. Nicely described and stunning images mate! Amer fort is best architectural site i have ever seen, especially sheesh mahal. It is most beautiful and incredible piece of art. Gone were the days when people can see sheesh mahal from inside. Now it is restricted.

  32. I went here years ago and loved it. Your post took me right back there and to the experience. The only regret I had was not being able to stay there longer to explore. I love the detail and you are so right, wouldn’t it be great to travel back in time and be able to see it in its full glory.

  33. I can’t even edit express as how much I am in love with Rajasthan. Amer Fort was one of those early monuments that I experienced years back. I simply loved the way you have started this article. Can’t Wait to go back.

  34. Wow this does look like an interesting spot to explore, especially the Palace of Mirrors. I would love tons see that! Those intricate details in your photos look incredible too!

  35. There is so much history in this place. I like the intricate details of Amer Fort like the flowers. This place looks prestigious and beautiful. The entrance fee might be expensive but I’d still want to visit this someday.

  36. See, this is why I have reluctantly decided to park Rajasthan for a different trip rather than include it in my upcoming Nepal/India trip. I’ve decided to be realistic and think that Rajasthan alone needs enough time to appreciate! I can’t just tack it onto the back of Uttar Pradesh… And when I go, I will probably go as a tourist – rather than a traveller. Not something I say often, but for some places, that’s quite appropriate. 🙂

  37. I’m not usually much for palace tours, but this one sounds like it was really interesting. A talented guide can really make a big difference.

  38. I am always a big fan of yours. How you channel your thoughts towards your photos are really deep and how you write is very detailed that it makes me wanted to pack my stuff and wanted to join you when you amble around. Anyway, the place is really romantic and I like how you included all the necessary information about the past history of the place which makes it more interesting. I’ll surely bear this in mind and Hopefully, I could visit here as well if I get the chance. Thank you so much for sharing!

  39. What great timing! I’m heading to Jaipur in 10 days time and have been looking for things to do. I’ve seen a fair bit about Amer fort, but the palace of mirrors looks stunning. Hopefully, I get the chance to check it out.

  40. I can only imagine what the Palace of Mirrors must have looked like back in its glory days. It’s nice to know that the palace is being restored. It’s so beautiful and I would love to visit.

  41. That Palace of Mirrors sounds AMAZING. Oh how I would love to get there to see it myself someday 🙂

  42. I was really taken with the story of the magic flower and how every time your guide moved his hands, it became something different. When you were telling the story about the kings in the beginning I was also entranced and imagining a peaceful palace turning into a war zone. I hope the government restores the paintings and carvings soon!

  43. I’m bowled over myself! I’m a photographer and I live to take cool mirror shots. I’d be in seventh heaven there! I’ve never left North America and lately I’ve been dreaming about India, because that’s where my BF is from.

  44. This sounds like such an amazing trip and I would so love to visit the Palace of Mirrors some day. I love your descriptions of the sights you seen and the history you told. You did a great job on this post. Thanks for sharing your wonderful experiences visiting these places.
    .

  45. Oh my gosh! Everything looks so beautiful! I would love to visit this place and see that old architecture. I am loving it. What an experience to have.

  46. I always get swept away by the beauty of historical places like this. I want to see the magic flower in person one day.

  47. Wow the architecture is crazy in the Palace of Mirrors!!! The place is absolutely gorgeous. I really wish to see this place in person myself sometimes!

  48. That looks like such an amazing place to visit! I love all the little architectural details – even the little things are so beautiful!

  49. I am absolutely stunned! It’s beautiful out there and it would be nice to see the Palaces in person. Jaipur is definitely a destination worth going to.

  50. I haven’t been to Sheesh Mahal yet, but I’ve read so much about it! Yeah, its mind blowing how their constructions were innately cool without any air conditioning. The intricacy and detailing is just wow!

  51. I have learned so much about India through your blog. These places are stunningly beautiful! I hope to see them all in person someday.

  52. Looks like such an incredible place – Amer Fort looks magical and like a great place to spend a few hours. Love your photo with the birds in the air – really brings out something special in the scene!

  53. As stunning as this Palace of Mirrors is now, it must have been breathtaking during its glory days. I wish I could see it in person!

  54. The architecture and design and color combination and just everything about this place is impeccable! Such incredible work and I am sure it is a thousand times better in person especially Amer Fort.

  55. You’ve practically teleported me from Nairobi To Jaipur. You have a special way with words and how you’ve decorated the post with words is enviable. Another destination added to the bucket list thanks to you!

  56. Oh my goodness what an absolutely stunning place! I love everything about the architecture and design–the details are so intricate! Definitely adding this to my bucket list.

  57. Truly a magical and unique place. Surrounded by beauty in and outside. I always learn so much from your posts about this big country! I love that they pointed out to you the different takes on the panel from the marbled pillar, how cool is that? This would be one place I would love to explore.

  58. Amer Fort looks like a must visit when in Jaipur. It looks just stunning. I haven’t been in this part of the world yet, so it’s something to add my future travel plans. Thanks for sharing.

  59. I have read a few posts on Amer Fort by now. It seems like a must see while in Jaipur. The Palace of Mirrors would for sure be a place of interest for myself. Great post!

  60. The window screen made of ornate flower reliefs took my breath away. Stunning architecture! And so true that some civilizations thought of many things we think of as innovations of today, the central cooling system is a unique fact!

  61. I’m loving the architectural design, the intricate carvings, the grand pillars of the Palace of Mirrors. Though we can only imagine how it looks like in its glory days, I’m glad that at least the local authorities are doing something to help restore and preserve this building. I would definitely love to go to Amer and walk through the halls of the palace myself.

  62. I love the way that you explain the history of this place. It’s like I can really feel what it’s like to be there, and what it must have been like at the height of its important as a home for kings. Thanks for sharing!

  63. Have been there twice but still can’t get tired of the fort. The views around, the magnificent built up, and of course the one of it’s kind sheesh mahal – there is so much to see and admire in Amer fort. One could easily spend a whole day here.

  64. Wow! You describe it all so beautifully that I almost didn’t need the pictures! (Which are beautiful too!) I would love to go back to India and Jaipur is high up on my list of places I want to go!

  65. Can’t believe we haven’t been to Amer fort yet. Definitely will visit soon. Love the way you have captured the details. We have had bad experiences with forts in Rajasthan on the weekends due to the crowds. Thanks for the tips. Will keep them in mind.

  66. That magic flower is fascinating alright. I remember it being a major point of argument between my hubby and me where he being practical said that it was not by design and I being the romantic said, of course it was. We would never know right? Fact remains – it is fascinating!

  67. I have been to Jaipur several times but my thirst for this place has still not been quenched. I feel still there is so much left to be explored. Amer Fort is awesome and the detailings, carvings here are so intricate.

  68. What an amazing place – I’m not surprised the stunning surroundings brought on a fantasy of times gone by! And you can’t help wondering – if this is what it looks like now, how much more spectacular would it have looked in its heyday?!

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