Inside the Palace of Winds: A Guide to Hawa Mahal in Jaipur

posted in: Asia, Heritage, India, Rajasthan | 93
First Published on June 20, 2016

The palace of winds or the Hawa Mahal is one of the most recognized landmarks of Jaipur. It was interesting to see how much appreciation and recognition I received with that one picture of Hawa Mahal shared in my post on Best Places to stay in Jaipur. What was even more surprising – I discovered not many had ventured inside Hawa Mahal Jaipur. I was flooded with questions like – “Can you go inside Hawa Mahal Jaipur?”. “How big is the Jaipur Hawa Mahal from inside?“What is there inside the Palace of Winds in Jaipur?” Well, if you are one of them, you going to be able to discover all this and much more through this guide to Hawa Mahal Jaipur.

Hawa Mahal Jaipur - One of the most Instagrammed places of the Pink City
Hawa Mahal Jaipur – One of the most Instagrammed places of the Pink City

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 is what makes the whole structure so impressive and gorgeous. I recall how at the first sight of it, a heritage buff like me just stopped walking and skipped not one – but many heartbeats. What might astonish you is that this palace of winds (the meaning of Hawa Mahal) was never a residential palace! However, it has plenty of rooms.

This fact I bet, leads to your next question  – “What was the purpose of this grand palace of winds in Jaipur?”. This is a cue for me to get going with this whirlwind virtual tour of Hawa Mahal in Rajasthan. Let’s start this guide to Hawa Mahal Jaipur with a bit of history.

Guide to Hawa Mahal Jaipur

History of Hawa Mahal in Jaipur

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! 😉

It has been several decades since the Kachhwaha family moved their powerhouse from Amer Fort to the present Jaipur City Palace. The rule had passed on from the founder of City Palace – Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh, to his grandson – Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh. The grandson happened to have seen another lovely palace called the Khetri Mahal in the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan. He was so inspired by it, that he decided to create his own version of that palace. And thus, he built the present-day Hawa Mahal Jaipur.

Behind the front facade - View of the interiors of Hawa Mahal
Behind the front facade – View of the interiors of Hawa Mahal

However, as mentioned earlier, he did not build the Palace of Winds to stay. The primary reason for this elaborate structure 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. The Hawa Mahal Jaipur was not a place for them to stay, but merely, have some fun and festivals.

The Maharaja commissioned an architect –Ustad Lal Chand, who used red and pink sandstone 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 for red color? ;-).

Interesting facts about the Hawa Mahal in Rajasthan

The Jaipur Hawa Mahal is shaped like the crown of Lord Krishna

By now, you would have realized that the Jaipur Hawa Mahal is no ordinary palace. Let me share a list of some very astonishing facts about the Hawa Mahal. Consider these facts as a teaser of sorts – something that will make you experience this tour of Hawa Mahal even better.

  1. The Jaipur Hawa Mahal was not built as a residence but as a pleasure palace for the royal ladies. This, I have already explained.
  2. The front facade of the palace is shaped like the peacock crown of Lord Krishna.
  3. There are 953 windows in the Hawa Mahal of Jaipur.
  4. Jaipur Hawa Mahal does not have a front entrance.
  5. There are no stairs to reach the upper levels of this five-storied palace.
  6. And the whooper of this fact file about the palace of winds – Hawa Mahal is the tallest building in the world without a foundation.

The architecture of Hawa Mahal Jaipur

Crowned Facade without a Foundation

Even from the outside, you can see the fusion of Rajputana and Mughal style architecture of Hawa Mahal
Even from the outside, you can see the fusion of Rajputana and Mughal style architecture of Hawa Mahal

Now that I have cleared the first misconstrued notion of this being built for wind, let me get onto fact no.2 – The 5-storied facade of the Jaipur Hawa Mahal is just a giant screen shaped like the crown of Lord Krishna. The crown had a peacock feather, popularly known in India as Mor Mukut. There is little structure behind the screen. It is mostly, open courtyards.

The whole five-floored frame that we all admire stands tall without a foundation. There has been little damage over the years and the reason for that – the pyramidal shape of the Hawa Mahal. The architectural notes on Hawa Mahal will also, tell you that this facade is curved and has a slight lean of 87 degrees. This is what makes it structurally sound.

The architecture of the Hawa Mahal is a delightful mix of Rajputana and Mughal styles. You will find fluted pillars, floral designs and domed canopies representing the Rajput style of construction while the various arches and the stone filigree work will remind you of the Mughal architecture. The mix is extremely seamless, making it one of the key highlights of the Hawa Mahal architecture.

953 windows and the Venturi effect

The other popular aspect of the architecture of the Hawa Mahal is its numerous windows! In fact, it is the most commonly asked question – “How many windows does the Hawa Mahal have?” 

The perforated walls and the small windows helped to cool the palace
The perforated walls and the small windows helped to cool the palace

The 953 jharokhas or small Rajput styled windows are the reason this palace became a relaxing retreat for the rulers of Jaipur. These tiny windows allowed the air to squeeze through and cool down in accordance to the scientific Venturi Effect (where the air squeezed through the tiny holes and cooled the place down). These windows served a dual purpose – one that made the palace windy and second that allowed the women hidden behind to see the world outside while shielding them.

Most of these windows have been shut to preserve them but here and there, when you are inside the Hawa Mahal, you will find a few that allow you to view the world beyond.

Inside Hawa Mahal Jaipur

The back entrance - Anandpoli Gate of Hawa Mahal
The back entrance – Anandpoli Gate of 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. Called the Anand Pol, the main entrance faces the City Palace. One can imagine this scene –  gorgeous queens in decorated palanquins arriving in style, from their main abode.

The sculpted figure of a gate keeper (Dwarapala) by the 2nd entrance - Chandrapoli gate
The sculpted figure of a gate keeper (Dwarapala) by the 2nd entrance – Chandrapoli gate

Passing through the gate, you come across another arched entrance that is covered with sculptures of 5 Gods – Lord Vishnu, Lord Ganesha, Goddess Lakshmi, Goddess Kalki and Lord Shiva. Along with them, on either side of the entrance is a sculpture of a gatekeeper (Dwarapala). This entrance is called the Chandrapoli Gate and through this, you enter the level one of Hawa Mahal.

The first glimpse of the insides of Hawa Mahal and its 5 floors
The first glimpse inside Hawa Mahal with its 5 floors

This picture of Hawa Mahal Jaipur has been taken from Anandi Pol and if you look carefully, you will see the white Chandrapoli gate with its deities, behind which are the other 4 levels of Hawa Mahal. Introducing them to you –

  • Level One – Sharad Mandir
  • Ratan Mandir
  • Vichitra Mandir
  • Prakash Mandir
  • Hawa Mandir

Each of these names has a reason behind them and finding that reason out, is going to be the exciting part of this guide to Hawa Mahal.

Sharad Mandir – Level one of Hawa Mahal, Jaipur

Sharad Mandir as seen from the first floor of Hawa Mahal Jaipur
Sharad Mandir as seen from the first floor of Hawa Mahal Jaipur

Cool fountains greeted us as we stepped into the palace. The pretty spray played tricks on my mind’s eye. I was transported back to its glorious era where the royal ladies played Holi in the pool and ran around squealing through the corridor. Sharad in Hindi refers to “Autumn” and the reason this name was given to the floor is for the festivities that came with Sharad Purnima (a harvest festival).

Ratan Mandir – the best of the interiors of Hawa Mahal in Rajasthan

Ratan Mandir - where the stained glasswork creates a gemstone like feel
Ratan Mandir – where the stained glasswork creates a gemstone like feel

Let’s get down to understanding Fact 5 of the interesting things about Hawa Mahal. To reach the higher floors of the Hawa Mahal, there are no stairs. There are ramps. The reasons for this were the royal ladies. These women were decked in heavy saris that weighed in kgs and were not even able to walk. They were wheeled around the palace and hence, the need for the ramp.:-)

So, like the royalty, we too, have to ascend on the ramps to the next level called the Ratan Mandir.  Ratan means precious stones and the intricate glasswork of the corridors was the reason this level was named so. The interiors of Hawa Mahal here are just so dreamy and colorful. Even my photos of Hawa Mahal will not do justice to what you can actually see.

Arched doorways of Ratan Mandir in Jaipur Hawa Mahal
Arched doorways of Ratan Mandir in Jaipur Hawa Mahal
Open Courtyards of Ratan Mandir - level two of the HawaMahal
Open Courtyards of Ratan Mandir – level two of the HawaMahal
Viewing pavilion in the open courtyards of Ratan Mandir
Viewing pavilion in the open courtyards of Ratan Mandir

The area seemed like a resting area for the ladies with its open chambers and arched doorways. It extends into an open courtyard with small viewing pavilions with the Rajput style domes. We had an amazing time climbing and posing in these. I must warn you – the pavilions are quite low and narrow and your heart does skip a beat as you climb and look down from them. I highly recommend that you stay closer to the side with the solid ground and not the one that overlooks the level below.

Ascending to Level 3 – Vichitra Mandir of Hawamahal Jaipur

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.

Vichitra Mandir from the outside- as seen from the floor below.
Vichitra Mandir from the outside- as seen from the floor below.

There is no outer courtyard on this floor. Here is where the ascent to the higher floors got narrower. I felt like a hamster running through a labyrinth of narrow passages with low ceilings and almost no light. Some of them are quite winding too. In some ways, I felt like Indiana Jones on a treasure hunt, going through dark mysterious tunnels. 🙂

From the dark to light – Prakash Mandir on Level 4

On Prakash Mandir - Level of Light in the Hawa Mahal
On Prakash Mandir – Level of Light in the Hawa Mahal

From the closed floor of Vichitra Mandir to open terraces of Prakash Mandir. Prakash means light and thus, the name of this floor. The viewing platforms here were so artistic and perfect for those photos in the Hawa Mahal. I too, had my share.

Hawa Mandir – the perfect viewpoint of Hawa Mahal

At the Hawa Mandir - the level that gave the name to the entire palace.
At the Hawa Mandir – the level that gave the name to the entire palace.

The highest floor with the wind all around. Hawa means wind and this breezy floor is the reason why the palace got its name – Hawa Mahal. The level offers various vantage points from where you can gaze down at the rest of Jaipur City. At one end, you get a glimpse of the city today while from another point, you will be treated to the view of the famed Jantar Mantar. There is yet another point from where you can spot the City Palace and Nahargarh Fort.

View of the city and Jantar Mantar from Hawa Mandir
View of the city and Jantar Mantar from Hawa Mandir
View from Hawa Mandir – City Palace in the foreground and Nahargarh Fort on the hill

Other attractions of Hawa Mahal Jaipur

The central pyramid of Hawa Mahal is supported by two rectangular columns. This is where you will find the ramps to ascend through the palace. Currently, there are many closed and empty rooms in the palace. There is one of them which functioned as a dining hall and had a kitchen attached to it. On the ground floor, you will find a museum with old weapons and vessels displayed. Almost every floor has a hidden facet. All you have to do is look carefully to find gems like these doors.

Some artistic doors of Jaipur Hawa Mahal
Some artistic doors of Jaipur Hawa Mahal

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 inside too.You never know what you may spot. I am keen to know how you feel after going through this guide on Hawa Mahal Jaipur.  Share your views with me and remember to pin this as your reminder to visit this landmark of Jaipur.

Hawa Mahal

 

How to get to Hawa Mahal in 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.

What is the best time to visit Hawa Mahal Jaipur?

Jaipur is best visited between the months of October to February. It is pretty hot in summer and quite uncomfortable to explore, especially in the day. Hawa Mahal is open throughout the year. You can be enter the palace between 9:30 am and 4:30 pm.

The outer facade is lit up at night and it is quite spectacular to photograph. It might be worth your while to drive by at night and experience Hawa Mahal at night.

Travel Tips:

  • 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 Hawa Mahal 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Booking Resources

  • If you are looking for a stay in Jaipur, consider using Booking.com. There are plenty of options for hotels near Hawa Mahal.
  • Klook.com offers a lot of sightseeing tours in Jaipur. They even have a fast-track ticket for Hawa Mahal that can be bought online. If you are looking for a self-drive or a car in Jaipur, you can use the same website.  
  • Another option for Jaipur tours is through GetYourGuide . The site has plenty of options for private tours across the Pink City.
  • For any kind of travel accessories or shopping in general, , consider going to Amazon through this link
Disclaimer: This article includes affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, I will receive a small commission if you purchase through my link. Thank you for supporting me with this.

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93 Responses

  1. Jatin Chhabra

    Great shots Ami, though I personally believe that Hawa Mahal is overrated.

    I am planning a week tour of Jaipur and nearby area and there are some amazing sights which are like 30-60 km from Jaipur and are amazing. Like did u know that there are sand dunes near Jaipur, just 40 km away?

    • Ami

      I personally, loved the Hawa Mahal. There are so many amazing places in and around Jaipur and I am hoping for some more trips to discover them all. 😀 Thanks for dropping by

  2. Fly With Shaunak

    When did you visit ? I was in Jaipur just now from 16th June to 19th June, it was very hot. But enjoyed exploring Hawa Mahal as well as other famous attractions in & around Jaipur. These are coming up very soon on my blog too 😉

  3. Kala Ravi

    That was such a wonderfully detailed post Ami! Never knew there was so much happening behind that beautiful city. Your clicks are spectacular too. Have to visit Jaipur soon….

  4. Trippin' Turpins

    Fascinating! What a beautiful building. I love the trivia about the heavy saris…. i don’t know how women did it in those days!

    • Ami

      I too, am in awe of that. The saris are displayed in a museum at city palace and it is amazing to see the kind of work it has.

  5. Neha Verma

    Beautiful snaps and a flowing narration as usual Ami! We are planning Jaipur visit in September, more excited than ever now to check out the interiors of hawa mahal

  6. Parul Thakur

    What an informative post. I wish I had read this 10 years ago when I first saw Hawa Mahal. I had no camera and now I don’t remember 🙁
    But if I go again, here is where I am going to take the tips from. Lovely pictures as always, Ami.

  7. JustGoPlaces (@justgo_places1)

    I’ve only seen the outside years ago – I didn’t know you could go inside. We hired a tour guide and you think he would have told us?! On the plus side, we want to go back and now I know all about visiting!

  8. Yogi Saraswat

    Beautiful images Ami. Have been there in 2000 and then there I feel a great air pressure on the top . well written

  9. MyAlwar

    I’ve been to Hawa Mahal many a times, a wonderful place indeed, but every time whenever I saw it I fall in love with it 😉
    You’ve captured the place so beautifully 🙂

  10. 2traveldads

    I’m kind of in love with the Hawa Mahal. I love the history, even though that’s very odd to me about hiding away from the crowds, I think it’s an interesting facet of the society.

    • Ami

      Purdah was quite prevalent back then. There are plenty of interesting stories and monuments built around it. In India, most palaces have a separate zenana (ladies) and mardana (men) sections. 🙂

  11. Dudhwa National Park

    Ami, I never been there, but i had a wish from many year to have a chance to visit the PINK CITY of India. i will never let the chance to go if got it..

    Really nice post it is. Pics are really enchanting.

  12. klipdrifters

    Ivé been reading so many articles and blogs about India and every time I do, i want to travel to India even more! Hawa Jaipur looks phenomenal! We have put the golden triangle on our list for India, think we would have to try and see Hawa Mahal while exploring Jaipur. Your pictures are beautiful!

    • Ami

      The Golden triangle should cover this and since you are doing it, make sure you get to go inside Hawa Mahal. Thanks for stopping by

    • Ami

      Thanks Elizabeth. India is full of these and there are centuries of amazing stories to go with them. You should make a trip here.

  13. Vyjay Rao

    This is another fabulous gem in the wonderland, that is Rajasthan. The beauty and grandeur packed in this desert state is indeed awesome.

  14. asoulwindow

    Nice post. I like it even more by the night. In my last trip, I just loitered around taking in its beauty while chewing my kachauri. Oh wait, kachauris.

  15. arv!

    Hawa Mahal is an iconic attraction in Jaipur. Your pictures and account of Hawa Mahal is superb. Looks like you enjoyed your family visit to Hawa Mahal

  16. Danial

    Great set of photos you got there! I’m really intrigued by Vichitra Mandir, I feel like there’s a whole bunch of secret rooms and hidden doorways not yet discovered.