18th century tunnel thrown open to the public in Jaipur

It was meant to evacuate royal family in case of an attack on Amber Palace

October 01, 2012 02:44 am | Updated October 18, 2016 02:16 pm IST - JAIPUR:

A portion of the famed Amber-Palace-Jaigarh-Fort tunnel, which connects two historical landmarks in Jaipur, was inaugurated here on Sunday, offering a new adventure to tourists and history buffs. The 325-metre-long portion of the tunnel excavated so far is expected to increase the tourism potential of the two monuments.

The State’s former Tourism, Art and Culture Minister, Bina Kak, unveiled the tunnel — built in the 18th century — in the presence of Diya Kumari and Narendra Singh of the erstwhile royal family. Jaigarh Public Charitable Trust director Yunus Khimani flagged off a battery-operated golf cart which carried the Minister from Ganesh Pol in Amber to the Jaigarh Fort.

Ms. Kak praised the initiative of the former royal family for digging the tunnel as a defence mechanism. “I would request the family to explore more such tunnels which may be leading from the City Palace to structures like Nahargarh and Amber Fort,” she said.

Ms. Kak described the opening of the tunnel as a “historic occasion” and said the tourists would love walking through it. Ms. Diya Kumari said the tunnel would add value to both Amber Palace and Jaigarh Fort and stated that the existence of similar tunnels elsewhere in the Pink City would be explored.

Half of the tunnel between the two monuments has been excavated so far, while work on the other half would start shortly. The State government’s Archaeology & Museums Department and the Jaigarh Public Charitable Trust have signed an agreement under the public-private partnership mode for this.

The path along the tunnel has been made motorable and those taking the tunnel from Amber Palace will climb out at Ganesh Pol. To facilitate the trip to Jaigarh, golf carts will be operated from Ganesh Pol to Awani Gate, the fort’s entry. A resting space has also been developed at Ganesh Pol.

The tunnel is believed to have been constructed in the 18th century so that the royal family, noblemen and others could be evacuated, in case of an attack on the palace, undetected, to the fort, which was defended by the Army.

Interestingly, the tunnel’s excavation has led to a discovery that this was an underground web-formation in Amber Palace and many tributaries met the main tunnel from various parts of the palace such as the barracks, the King’s quarters, Zanana (women’s abode), etc. The tunnel surfaces, much like the modern metro trains, when it comes out of the palace.

The tunnel is a 14-foot deep pit, approximately 10 feet wide and about 800 metres long.

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