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Hawa Mahal Jaipur, palace of Winds

The Hawa Mahal Jaipur is the beautiful many windowed extension of the City Palace that is said to resemble the honeycomb structure of a bee’s nest. Since the construction of the Hawa Mahal Jaipur in 1799 the building has become the iconic structure of the city and the pink sandstone palace is considered as the finest example of Rajput architecture.

water palace

The Hawa Mahal, Palace of Winds

The Hawa Mahal Jaipur translated into English means the Palace of the Winds and this name is in reference to the clever cooling system which propagates a gentle breezes through the inner rooms even during the intense Rajasthan summers. This ingenious design has been completely lost after a recent renovation in which windows were installed behind each of the lattice openings, so today the palace of winds has no wind.

Hawa Mahal Jaipur Features

The Hawa Mahal Jaipur acts as an optical illusion from the street level, here it appears as a massive structure but in actual fact the building is just an elaborate facade which is only an inconsequential part of the City Palace. The Hawa Mahal Jaipur covers 5 floors and this pyramidal structure signifies both the crown of the Hindu god Krishna and the the tail of a peacock implying royalty and power.

 

The palace was constructed from pink sandstone but in 1876 the exterior walls were painted with a calcium oxide paint that gives Jaipur its distinct pink colour. The palace was designed in 1799 by architect Lalchand Usta under the guidance of Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh Marah as an extension of the zenana (woman’s chambers) part of the maharaja’s harem of the City Palace. The building's original function was to allow women to observe the daily life of the city whilst staying unseen from the street and commoner level.

The small lattice windows were angled to over look the city's main market and central boulevard. Along this boulevard royal processions or religious ceremonies would pass within sight of the women hidden behind the beautiful lattice windows. In later years the rooms of the Palace of the Wind found favour with the Royal family of Jaipur, as the rooms were always considerably cooler than the main bulk of the City Palace due to the constant air flow through the windows.

water palace

The Hawa Mahal, Palace of Winds

This forced separation of the maharaja’s many wives and concubines from the outside world is called purdah and the origins of the word mean curtain. The Hawa Mahal did not contain curtains but intricate marble grills that covered each of the small windows on the balconies called jharokhas. The stunning lattice work is best appreciated from inside the palace where it is possible to view close at hand the skilled craftsmanship of the builders.

Hawa Mahal Jaipur Tourist Information

The Hawa Mahal is best viewed from outside the City Palace’s walls on the chaotic Badi Chaupad cross roads. It is from these streets that poor city folk have looked up, wondered and marveled at the lavish and simple unimaginable life styles that were lived meters from their extreme poverty.

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