When was it built: 1799
Who built it: Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh
Where is it located: Jaipur, Rajasthan, India
Why was it built: For the royal women to enjoy the events and festivals in the street.
Architectural Style: Blend of Hindu Rajput architecture and the Islamic Mughal architecture.
Visit Timing: Daily: 9:30 am to 4:30 pm
How to Reach: The city of Jaipur is well-connected with other Indian cities by air, rail and road and also with some international cities by air. The Jaipur International Airport is situated at Sanganer, a southern suburb at a distance of 13 kilometres from Jaipur.
Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh, grandson of the great Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh who built Jaipur, constructed the Hawa Mahal in 1799. He was so impressed with the Khetri Mahal built by Maharaja Bhopal Singh in the town of Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan that he embarked on constructing the Hawa Mahal that today stands as a remarkable gem of Rajput style of architecture. It was built as an extension of the Royal City Palace and leads to the zenana or women's chambers. One of the main reasons of constructing this beautiful mahal decorated with fine lattice windows and screened balconies was to facilitate the royal Rajput women, who otherwise followed the strict Purdah system and refrained from appearing in public, in getting a glimpse of the daily events, royal processions and festivals taking place on the streets. This way they could enjoy their sense of freedom while maintaining their customs.
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.
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 architect of this unique five-storied pyramidal palace with a height of 15 m from its elevated base was Lal Chand Ustad. The design of the building showcases an excellent blend of Hindu Rajput architecture with that of the Islamic Mughal architecture. The former style is palpable from the fluted pillars, floral patterns and domed canopies while the arches and stone inlay filigree work are manifestations of the latter style.
Keeping in line with other famous landmarks of the city, which is aptly tagged as the 'Pink City', this monument was built with red and pink sandstones. Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh’s devotion towards Lord Krishna is manifested from the design of the structure of the palace that resembles the crown of the Lord. Although not exactly a palace, it looks like one from the street. The facade of the building intricately carved with beautiful motifs is cognate to that of the honeycomb of a beehive. Several potholes of the structure each having small lattice windows, chiselled sandstone grill and decorated domes give the building a look of a mass of semi-octagonal bays. There are a total of 953 elaborately carved jharokhas or windows, some of which are made of wood. These jharokhas were build in such a manner that air circulates naturally through them creating Venturi effect (doctor breeze) thus air conditioning the entire structure during the hot summers. 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 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.
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.
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, however it is best viewed early in the morning when the golden rays of the Sun fall on this royal building giving it a more elegant and gorgeous look. The ancient artefacts preserved in the museum of the mahal give one a glimpse of the rich past, the cultural heritage and the exuberant lifestyle of the Rajputs. One can avail a taxi or book a car to reach the destination. As summers in Rajasthan are too hot, the best time to visit Jaipur is from October to March when the weather of the city becoms pleasant.