If there is a group of tourists who would like to witness and understand the amazing water harvesting structures at the Nahargarh Fort and Amer Palace – the same can be arranged. The Department of Archaeology and Museum has tied up with “Heritage Water Walks” for arranging them. This was informed by the Director of Archaeology & Museums, Government of Rajasthan, Mr. Hridesh Sharma today. The Director said that the 2-hour water walks both at Nahargarh and Amber are designed to understand the sacredness of water in Rajasthani culture and the wisdom of our ancestors. It uncovers the stories hidden in the majestic forts of Nahargarh and Amber Palace while enjoying a walk in jungle or witnessing the majestic grandeur of the forts. Participants go back amazed at the sophistication of water technologies of past. Such walks are being conducted since 2015. They are being conducted by Mr. Neeraj Doshi of Rain Water (Research, Advocacy & Innovation in Water) which is supported by the Department of Archaeology & Museums and Jaipur Development Authority. The timings for these walks are : Nahargarh Fort (6 am to 5 pm); Amber Palace (8am to 5 pm – winters; 10 am to 5 pm – summers).
Nahargarh Fort Water Walk
The story of Nahargarh Water harvesting structures is also the story of ingenuity of Rajasthan society to innovate for all its needs. Built In 1734 during the reign of Sawai Jai Singh (1698-1740), the extensive water systems of Nahargarh is one of the most significant features of the fort. Water catchment for Nahargarh extends to about 6 kms surrounding the fort. A network of six closed catchments connect through small canals and aqueducts and drains are laid in and outside the fort. Small canals bring rainwater from the higher reaches of the hills. The bed of these canals is designed in such a way that it is on a gradient and also at the same time has an undulating course. Nahargarh has two large step wells (Bawri) and a smaller step well known as ‘Kund’. The large step wells receive water from the catchment in the surrounding hills. The ‘Kund’ receives rainwater harvested from the fort complex alone.
Amber Palace Water Walk
The story of Amber water lifting and harvesting structures is also equally ingenuous as that of Nahargarh. Water harvesting system here shows how the provision of water for large residences was made bearing in mind the refined water conservation mechanism and superior architectural practices of 16th century Rajputana. Raja Man Singh I built Amber Palace in 1599. It was further expanded for next 150 years by Mirza Raja Jai Singh and Jai Singh II until Jai Singh II decided to move the capital to newly built Jaipur City in 1743. The extensive water system of Amber Palace is one of the most significant features of the Palace. Amber palace has two sources of water – Maota Lake and rainwater harvesting within the palace. A series of six structures (buildings) lift water from Maota Lake all the way up to the fort through a complex relay system. Unlike rainwater harvesting system of Fort Nahargarh, which collects water from surrounding hills via extensive network of drains, Amber Palace uses a much more sophisticated mechanism to lift water few hundred feet above from Maota Lake.
Ever since the water walks have started a large number of Indian and foreign tourists, students, civil service officers, designer, architects, citizens of Jaipur and even renowned authors of Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) have experienced the walk.