Eleven kilometers north of Jaipur lies Amber, a low-key town with less the hustle of its more famous neighbor. It does have the one sight that trumps perhaps all of Jaipur’s: the Amber Fort. Nestled atop an arid hill, the fort combines Mughal and Rajasthani architecture and the golden color of its sandstone fortress make it all the more majestic.
Amber was the capital of the Kachwaha clan of the Rajputs, with the fort being constructed in 967 CE. Jai Singh II then expanded on the structure in the 17th century before moving the capital of his kingdom to Jaipur in 1727.
I take a bus near the Hawa Mahal from Jaipur and after about 15 minutes slightly crammed in with other passengers, I get dropped at the pathway by the road leading to the Amber Fort. I begin my climb and meet a plethora of local characters along the way: women selling snacks, men selling selfie sticks, and elephants trudging the paths to the main gate. I spend about an hour before going down.
I’m not quite done yet, though. Instead of taking another bus right away back to Jaipur, I head to the town proper and take a left to a narrow road near the market. Here, Amber takes on a more rustic quality, with only a couple of motorbikes and the occasional tourist taxi zipping by. My destination is a Hindu temple and a baori (step-well), which both make for a fine day-trip distraction.