Walking through the Sun Gate to the bottom courtyard of Amber Fort, I feel like we've stepped into a set of Conan the Barbarian.

 "Can I punch a camel in the head?" Dan asks.

 No camels just here, but the crenelated walls of the yellow fort look perfect for snake-worship or simply throwing a grappling hook over.

This is the ancient capital of the Jaipur aristocracy, built before the pink city was created. It sits halfway up a scrubby mountain, lording over a village in the green valley below. Defensive barriers, not unlike China's Great Wall, line the ridges of the hills around. Another fort, Jaigarh, the last line of defense we presume, dominates the peak of the mountain. It was never taken in battle, and the Jaipur royal family's one-and-one-quarter flags continue to fly defiantly from its tallest tower.

Winded from climbing the hill, we took plenty of time to look over the forts.

Amber (say it with a silent 'b') is a fun-house of tiny, odd-shaped rooms, tilting passageways and mysterious corners, stairways and bypasses.  One courtyard, the Jai Mandir, has mirrored paintings that glitter silver in the afternoon sun. On a more practical side, I overheard a guide telling tourists that the fort has more than 100 latrines hidden throughout its four stories. The hamam, or bathing area is also interesting--certainly the oldest jacuzzi I've ever seen.

Jaigarh is built flatter, on a wider expanse. The walls have triple-holed shooter's hideouts and ramps for canons. The view reaches the 11 kilometers to modern Jaipur and over countless valleys around it.

There's a puppet theater that used to amuse royal children, a long dining hall with manikins forever enjoying tasty medieval food fashioned out of plaster (men and women separately, of course).

The best part of the fort, though, is the garden. Three forty-foot tall scalloped archways in red sandstone look east over the village of Amber and the golden walls of Amber Fort, made toy-like by the distance.

As the sun set behind Jaigarh, we kept an eye out for roving barbarians and made our way down the mountain and back to the 21st century.

**Click here to see our photos of Amber and Jaigarh!**


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