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.
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
- 1 Guide to Hawa Mahal Jaipur
- 2 History of Hawa Mahal in Jaipur
- 3 Interesting facts about the Hawa Mahal in Rajasthan
- 4 The architecture of Hawa Mahal Jaipur
- 5 Inside Hawa Mahal Jaipur
- 6 Other attractions of Hawa Mahal Jaipur
- 7 How to get to Hawa Mahal in Jaipur?
- 8 What is the best time to visit Hawa Mahal Jaipur?
- 9 Travel Tips:
- 10 Booking Resources
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.
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
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.
- The Jaipur Hawa Mahal was not built as a residence but as a pleasure palace for the royal ladies. This, I have already explained.
- The front facade of the palace is shaped like the peacock crown of Lord Krishna.
- There are 953 windows in the Hawa Mahal of Jaipur.
- Jaipur Hawa Mahal does not have a front entrance.
- There are no stairs to reach the upper levels of this five-storied palace.
- 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
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 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 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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- There are numerous Jaipur hotels that you can book online. Booking.com has some amazing properties listed on this link.
- Klook.com is a good website to book a tour of Hawa Mahal. The same website offers numerous other Rajasthan tours and even, cab services.
- Another option to book tours for Rajasthan is using GetYourGuide. Click through the given link and find all the possible options for this destination.
- Consider buying your travel and home needs online through Amazon. Please use this link to get to the site or the app – it will help me get some affiliate income to keep this site going.
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.
Popularly referred to as a Restless Ball of Energy. My Mom refuses to entertain my complaints about my equally restless daughter & assures my husband that I was born with a travel bug.
I am a Post-Graduate in Marketing by qualification and a travel blogger by passion. Besides travel, I enjoy photography and if you don’t find me at my desk, I would be out playing badminton or swimming or just running. I believe in planning for every long weekend through the year. And when I cannot travel physically, I travel virtually through this travel blog. My travel stories have also, got published on various websites and magazines including BBC Travel, Lonely Planet India and Jetwings. I have recently published my first book – When Places Come Alive – a collection of stories that are based on legends, landscapes, art and culture of a place which is available in both ebook and paperback format.