Amber was initially under the domain of the Susawat Meena tribe. In the 11th Century Dulahrai (Dhola), the son of Sodhadeva laid the foundation of Kachhwaha dynasty in the Dhundhar region. His son, Kakil Dev took over the reign of Amber from the Meenas. Maharaja Man Singh I built this fort in 1592 A.D. Mirza Raja Jai Singh I and Sawai Jai Singh II made modifications and changes as per the needs from time to time. They also changed the interior decoration as per their own interest.
Entering Surajpol or Chandpol gate one steps in Jaleb Chowk-Pared ground of the Amber Palace. Near Singhpol, there is the temple dedicated to goddess Durga popularly known as Shilamata, brought by Raja Man Singh in 1604 from Jessor presently in Bangladesh. This 14th century Pala period image of Durga-Mahish Mardini was placed in a room adjoining the Singh Pol.
It was, however, Sawai Man Singh II who elaborately decorated the temple with marble carvings and silver doors, which exhibit the nine forms of goddess Durga, and the ten Mahavidyas. To the left of this temple is the great wooden doorway known as Singhpol closely followed by a second wooden doorway. This provided a double defence system for the palace. The frescoes on the Singhpol gate belong to the 17th century and have a distinctive Mughal influence. Singhpol gate connects the Diwãn-i-Aãm complex – Hall or Public Audience.
This complex reveals the fusion of Islamic and Hindu architecture, beautifully put together. The roof is giving a very straight line effect whereas the ceiling inside is dome shaped. It was constructed by Mirza Raja Jaisingh I (1621-1667 AD).
Behind the main building is Majlis Vilas, a structure constructed during the rule of Sawai Ram Singh II (1835-1880 AD) for hosting entertainment programmes. This part of the building shows distinctive Indo-European architecture. Further East are open verandah used as offices. In front of it there are two storyed servants quarters which were constructed in the mid 19th century.
On the southern side lies the imposing gateway the Ganeshpol, main entrance of the palace, having godowns, toilets and hamams or baths in Persian style. On the western side more godowns, Kitchens and water tanks. This magnificent gateway has frescoes in Indo-Persian style with Lord Ganesh adorning the whole façade. Inside the inner premises there are two highly decorated buildings separated by a garden laid in the charbagh pattern (Mughal style) with beautiful fountains.
To the eastern side of the gardens, there is the most famous charming parts of the palace, which is the Jai Mandir or the Diwan-i-khas- Hall of private audience, also known as the Sheesh Mahal or the Hall of Mirrors, the walls and ceiling embedded with convex mirrors in exquisite designs. The marble pillars and walls of the building are inlaid with black stone from Bhainslana.
On the interior of Sheesh Mahal, one can witness the beautiful lattice work depicting scenes from the life of Radha & Krishna in stained glass work with metal base. Opposite to the Sheesh Mahal and across the garden the Queens stayed in the Sukh Niwas. It had water flowing through a lattice plane which kept this area cool. Towards the North side in the verandah is placed a stone pedestal from where homage was paid to the Sun God.
By the steps to the North of the Sheesh Mahal or by the ramp one reaches above the Ganeshpol, to the Suhag Mandir and from here one can view Diwãn-i-Aãm through beautiful lattice screen.
On the eastern side is a wide open space popularly known as “Chandani’’ which was used as dancing courtyard during the 17th century.
The area Chandni leads to the terrace above the Sheesh Mahal, and comes to the Jas Mandir. It is also influenced by the Mughal style of architecture decorated with flakes of glass.This was a kind of summer resort as water pipes perforated at intervals allowed for a slow flow of water on the Khus (a type of perfumed grass) curtains hanging on the doorways.
A long passage leads to the Man Singh Palace. The high walls of this passage divide the premises into two parts. The area transverse so far was constructed from the 17th century onwards whereas the remaining area was constructed in the 16th century. The palace is made of stone with beautiful archways and Jharokas.
These were the personal apartments of Raja Man Singh I. The walls & doors are adorned with beautiful paintings showing religious scenes as it was used as his personal prayer room. This area leads downwards to the chawk or courtyard of this palace area.
On all sides of this courtyard are 12 apartments of his 12 Queens. In the center of this chowk lies a Bradari. In the north east is a big underground water tank which was used for supplying water these apartments.
After Man Singh Mahal on the exit route lies Zenani Deorhi, which housed servants quarters of the royal zenana, and following this route one reaches Jaleb Chowk.