An Ode To The Palace Of Winds
- Text & Photos by Angadveer Singh
Hawa Mahal, or the ‘Palace of Winds’ is an iconic landmark of Jaipur, the Pink City of India. It is one of the most famous tourist attractions that see at least 700 tourists visiting it every day. This was told to me by the lady that was manning the tickets counter when I visited this place recently.
Jaipur in general and Rajasthan, in particular, is in any case world famous for its rich cultural and architectural history. The Hawa Mahal is the pride of the capital city of Rajasthan.
Although not exactly a palace, it looks like one from the street. Hawa Mahal is a five storey building in the heart of Jaipur. It is made of red and pink sandstone (like most buildings of Jaipur) lined with white color to make it vibrant. The structure resembles a beehive. The palace has carved and arched small chhatris or dome-shaped pavilions showing the richness of vivid Rajput architecture.
The walls of the palace have 953 jharokha or overhanging balconies from where cool and fresh air can pass. The most unique aspect about the palace is the fact that at all times a light breeze passes through it. That is how the palace got its name. A tourist guide also informed us that the Hawa Mahal also denotes Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh’s devotion towards Lord Krishna – the design of the palace resembles the crown of the Lord.
Several parts of the structure also have small lattice windows, chiseled sandstone grill, and decorated domes. Some of the windows are made of wood.
Each jharokha has a small chamber where one can sit and view the street. Fountains at the middle of each chamber complimented well with the light wind flowing through the jharokhas thus enhancing the cooling effect of the chambers.
The palace is like a pyramid and has a height of 15m from its base. There are no stairs in the building and top stories can be reached only by ramps. This was done to accommodate the palanquins of the royal ladies.
Not many people talk about the archaeological museum within the courtyard of the palace. It has many artifacts that give an idea of the rich past, the cultural heritage and the lifestyle of the Rajputs.
The Hawa Mahal was built in 1799 under the instruction of Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh (grandson of the great Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh who built Jaipur) of the Kachhwaha Rajput dynasty. The main purpose of this building at that time was to help royal women get a good view of the street festivals and busy city life while remaining out of the view of the public.
Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh was so impressed with the Khetri Mahal built by Maharaja Bhopal Singh in the town of Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan that he embarked on constructing a structure inspired by the Khetri Mahal. The architect of this building was Lal Chand Ustad.
The Hawa Mahal that attracts national and international tourists visiting Jaipur is located in the southern part of the city on Hawa Mahal Rd, Badi Choupad. It can be visited on all days from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm. But I think the best time to visit Hawa Mahal is in the early morning when the sun enters the rooms from the windows and the golden sunrays give it an even more magical look. As summers in Rajasthan are too hot, the best time to visit Jaipur is from October to March when the weather is pleasant.