The palace of winds or the Hawa Mahal, is one of the most recognized landmarks of Jaipur. A couple of weeks back, I had shared a picture of the same in my post on Best Places to stay in Jaipur. The appreciation and recognition it evoked was quite interesting. What was even more surprising – I discovered not many had ventured into the palace. Well, if you are one of them, you going to be able to discover it through this post. 🙂
Smack in the center of Jaipur city, the Hawa Mahal is quite popularly described as a bee-hive structure. Its pink and rose-colored stone makes the whole structure so impressive and gorgeous. At the first sight of it, a heritage buff like me, just stopped walking and skipped not one – but many heart beats. What is amazing is that my hubby, who is the quiet types and does not really click too many snaps, actually gasped and many attempts to capture it all through his lens.
Awe-inspiring as Hawa Mahal is, it is time to start our journey with a bit of history.
History of Hawa Mahal
If you think the sole purpose with which this palace was built, was to have some wind circulation. Ha! How happy I would be to inform you that isn’t the case! 😉
Built by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh, the primary reason to build this was to give the royal ladies a space to enjoy the city processions without being seen. A screen to hide them and let them observe Purdah. This palace was not a place for them to stay, but merely, have some fun and festivals.
The palace was designed by an architect Ustad Lal Chand, who used red and pink stones to build this. I mention this fact for I found it quite amusing that the name Lal means red . Could that be a reason for the architect’s preference of red color? ;-).
Exteriors of Hawa Mahal
Now that I have cleared the first misconstrued notion of this being built for wind, let me share another astonishing fact. The 5-storied facade is just a screen with little structure behind it. The palace is shaped like the crown of Lord Krishna. The crown had a peacock feather, popularly known in India as Mor Mukut.
Behind this huge screen are open courtyards. The basic principle of cross ventilation is what allowed free air circulation and hence, made this palace windy. The 953 jharokhas or small Rajput styled windows is the main feature of this facade. By now, you would have realized that the windows were big enough to let the women see the world outside and yet small enough to shield them from the eyes outside.
The outside of Hawa Mahal itself, is so amazing that we kept trying to absorb every aspect of it – the floral motifs, the numerous windows etc. A some point, one of us nudged the other to make a move on – to shake off that reverie and step into the interiors of the palace.
Interiors of the Hawa Mahal
The entrance to the Hawa Mahal is behind the main facade and you need to walk along a few small alleys to get there. The main entrance faces the City Palace. One can imagine this scene – gorgeous queens in decorated palanquins arriving in style, from their main abode. At the entrance, is a small description of what each floor of the palace was meant for. Check it out here.
The first glimpse of palace through the entrance was just so beautiful. Thankfully, I have it captured and ready to share with you.
Cool fountains greeted us as we stepped into the palace. I could imagine the royal ladies playing holi in the shallow pool like structures, while enjoying the spray of the fountains. Around the courtyard on the walls, you can spot several sculptures like these ones.
To reach the first floor of the Hawa Mahal, you need ascend like a royalty using the ramps. If you are wondering why I called the ramp the royal approach – it is not because it was easier for them to climb The royal ladies were decked in heavy saris that weight in kgs and were not even able to walk. They were wheeled around the palace and hence, the need for the ramp.:-)
Ratan means precious stones and the reason for this floor to be named so is the intricate glass work that is present in the corridors. The entire effect was just so dreamy and colorful and even my snaps will not do justice to what you can actually see.
Besides this, Ratan Mandir also, is an open courtyard with small viewing pavilions, which we had an amazing time climbing and posing in. I must warn you though – the pavilions are quite low and narrow and your heart does skip a beat as you climb and look down from out. The kids scrambled onto it but only after we gave them a warning to pose on the side with the solid ground and not the one that overlooked the floor below.
Vichitra means unknown or weird. The floor was so named as the doors were kept closed and the floor was an escape for Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh. It is said that he was so devoted to Lord Krishna that he spent a lot of time on this floor, behind the closed doors, composing poems and singing in praise of the Lord. This floor was the”ME” corner for the Maharaja.
The floor was being restored and from where I was, I could only spot some empty rooms.
There are no outer courtyard from this floor on. And the ascend to the higher floors is through narrow staircases. I have to say that I felt like a hamster running through a labyrinth. Besides being narrow, the staircases have a low ceiling and are really dark. Some of them are quite winding too. It somehow, gave me a feeling of being Indiana Jones on a treasure hunt, going through dark mysterious tunnels. 🙂
From the closed floors to open terraces of Prakash Mandir. Prakash means light and you by now, must realize why the floor was named so. The viewing platforms here were so artistic and cute and again, we had our photo moments here.
The highest floor with wind all around. You can gaze down at the rest of the city from here – on one side the city life seen today, another angle giving you the view of the famed Jantar Mantar and a third angle where you can spot the City Palace and Nahargarh Fort.
Unfortunately, we were near the closing time, else I would have loved to explore it some more. There is a museum in the palace as well, which we missed owing to the same being closed. There were so many nuances that I kept spotting but a closer look owing to lack of time, was something I was deprived of. Would I go here again?
Definitely. I still have loads to check out.
Hawa Mahal is one of the topmost things to see in Jaipur and having done so myself, I can quite understand why. I know that the outside is mesmerizing but you must visit the insides too.You never know what you may spot.
Keen to know how you feel. Share your views with me and remember to pin this as your reminder to visit this landmark of Jaipur.
- Jaipur is a mini metro that is well-connected to most cities of India. It is a part of the Golden Triangle and reaching here by road, rail or air is not difficult.
- Hawa Mahal is right in the center of the current Jaipur city. You can use the auto rickshaws, tuk tuks, cabs or buses to reach this attraction.
- The entrance to Hawa Mahal is a part of the composite ticket that can be availed at any of the Jaipur attractions. The composite ticket can be used over a span of 2 days. The same costs INR 300 for an Indian and INR 1000 for a foreign national. Camera charges are separate.
- Should you want to visit it separately, the individual ticket prices for an adult are INR 20 for an Indian and INR 50 for a foreign national. Camera charges of INR 10 for an Indian and INR 30 for a foreign national are applicable.
- You can visit this attraction between 9:30 am to 4:30 pm.
- The Hawa Mahal is within walking distance of City Palace and Jantar Mantar. Hence, it is advisable to club your visit with these attractions. A composite ticket will definitely work out the best given this.
- There are plenty of shops around Hawa Mahal and you can shop for handicrafts, shoes and clothes here. However, remember to bargain hard.
- The best time to visit Jaipur is between September to February, when the weather is on your side.
- The beautiful Hawa Mahal is lit at night and they say it is amazing then too. It might be well worth your time to catch it then as well. I missed it, but hope to make up for it the next time.
- Remember to wear flat shoes as there is plenty of walking and climbing to be done. The staircases are quite claustrophobic and hence, a torch for those suffering from fear of dark place is advisable.
- Some of the parapets and viewing pavilions have low walls. Exercise caution when climbing these.