The journey to Amber

In a very real sense the story of Amber Palace (or is it a fort?) is a story of journeying. Ours started with a call from what we can only surmise was our Uber driver who only said “Yes” when asked who was calling. He called four more times just saying “yes” each time. Our Hindi is a little rusty, but then again they speak dozens of different dialects here on the subcontinent, so who knows? You have to admire his persistence if not his complete lack of any functional English.

His name was Mohan. He wasn’t unusual looking in any way, short, slight, 120 to 130 lbs. But the car, have mercy, the car lacked even one single panel that wasn’t smashed, dented, scratched, gouged, punched in, hanging down or taped up.

They say that beauty’s only skin deep but ugly is through to the bone. No matter what Mohan tried he could only force the transmission into 1st gear maybe 5 percent of the time, which left us trying to start out in second or even third, slowly bucking down the road, horns blaring while his horn barely made a wheezing, worn out anemic meeeep. Still, he drove down the road like everybody in India, with one hand permanently beeping the horn and the other one on the steering wheel when it wasn’t knuckle deep up his nose that is, or when he leaned over to spit out the window. It was a lot to ignore.

Not far from our guesthouse we passed these guys which reminded me that I frequently saw a huge camel in town rigged to a large wheeled flatbed trailer with two dudes aboard, one with something you’d have to call a camel prod, traveling at a high rate of speed through traffic. The camel towered over the cars and tuktuks, which basically got out of the way as fast as possible.

Now where was I? Oh yes. We finally arrived at the Amber Palace gate where we attempted to determine where we’d meet Mohan after we were finished exploring the Palace since he couldn’t park anywhere near the entrance. I really thought we’d never see him again.

There was nothing left but to hit the steps.

The stairs were not a real test for your temple-tested Escapees but the sun always takes its toll.

Nearing the top elephants joined our path leaving more obstacles to avoid.

Ducking through the gate we entered a huge expanse of open courtyard.

Up one last staircase and you could see the palace take shape.

My favorite was the Hall of Private Audience where the envoys of other rulers would be received. Private grievance could also be adjudicated with the powers that be. Nice touch. The glasswork is amazing for 1621.

We only booked Mohan for 7 hours so it was back down the hill for your intrepid Escapees.

At the gate there was no Mohan but we could see the car’s location on the Uber app a short walk away. Marce texted him and he came up to meet us.

Every high point in the area had some sort of fortification perched on top.

We’d been looking forward to this next stepwell, but it was a really a harrowing narrow circuitous alley down into this remarkable valley.

It’s hard to imagine that during the monsoon season these wells were filled to overflowing. Not anymore, sadly, for a variety of environmental and maintenance reasons.


Back up another mountain to Fort Narhargarh and a more organic flowing stepwell.

Well that’s a wrap for a rather ambitious day and if I’m any judge Mohan has had more than enough, too.


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2 Responses to The journey to Amber

  1. Jason S Spitz

    Well maybe we now know where MC Escher got his stairway inspiration!

  2. Suzy O'Hanlon Capenos

    More steps!!! He should know stick, maybe just blown out. My dad showed me with 1 pass on our street inPeter’s. I stalled at Boyce and 19.How many hundreds of years to build Amber Temple. Is it very hot? Do you hear other languages. Have you Griffen a camel or elephant? Not for me. My sister in law broke her wrist in India. Doc told her to go to next place on trip. But in wrap and sling. Singapore. No pain med. Surgery. Credit card. Back to PGH. No pain med. Ouch. Fortunately, 20 yrs ago. I could go for a bowl of fruit and rice.

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