One of the most impressive architectural highlights of our trip to Rajasthan was a visit to the prominent Hawa Mahal, centrally located within the old city walls of Jaipur. In 1799, the Rajput ruler – Sawai Pratap Singh – commissioned Lal Chand Usta to design the Hawa Mahal (which literally translates to “Palace of Winds”) in the form of Krishna’s crown. It’s believed that Sawai Pratap Singh’s passionate devotion to Lord Krishna was the inspiration behind the design. From red and pink sandstone, Hawal Mahal was built as an extension of the Royal City Palace Zenana (women’s chambers), away from the main complex. The main purpose of the Hawa Mahal was to offer women of the royal court a vantage point, behind stone-carved screens a private view of royal processions and everyday life in the city without being visible to the public.
The Hawal Mahal as seen from outside the palace
The friendly and helpful ticket collector at Hawa Mahal. We opted for the audio tour which provided us with 2 pair of headsets attached to a single device.
Entrance to Hawa Mahal is from the City Palace side, through a stately door. Façades of Jaipur and surroundings typically have gokhdas (sitting spaces) on either side of the entrance. Ganesha (opens gate to material success and is the spiritual guide), Shiva, Laxmi on moon (symbol of beauty), Vishnu and Kalki are etched on the chatri (elevated, dome-shaped pavilions).
A young boys peers through one of the palace’s 953 façade niches with Its intricately carved Jharokhas (windows).
The building, standing on a high podium, is a fifty-foot high thin shield, less than a foot in thickness, with small intimate chambers , which give this palace its unique facade. There are no regular stairs to reach the upper floors, only ramps.
Though often described as merely a screen, the Hawa Mahal is in fact a structure built around two courtyards, with a vast screen-like facade on the east, overlooking the street. The 5 storied pyramidal shaped monument built in red and pink sand stone to keep with the décor of the other monuments in the city.
Hawa Mahal – one of the many chatris (elevated dome-shaped pavilions). Chatri in Hindi means umbrella or canopy.
View of inside the courtyard. One very interesting feature of Hawa Mahal is the fact that the elaborate and decorative element exists only on one side. There is a total lack of ornamentation on the inner face of the building. The chambers are plain with a mass of pillars and passages leading to the top storey.
The second storey is known as Ratan Mandir because of the dazzling glasswork on its walls.
The fifth storey is known as Hawa Mandir after which the whole structure came to be known as Hawa Mahal.
The view through one of the windows onto the streets of Jaipur.
View of the market outside the palace
- The small windows circulated cooler air during the months of summer season. The original intention of the lattice was to allow royal ladies to observe everyday life in the street below without being seen.
Looking down upon the courtyard with Jantar Mantar in the background. Of the five storeys of the Mahal, the top three storeys have the thickness of a single room while the bottom storeys have courtyards.
The interior of the Hawa Mahal is stark and plain with passages and pillars reaching to the top storey. The building does not have stairs to reach the upper floors; the storeys are connected by slopes.
Interior corridors surrounding one of the courtyards of the Hawa Mahal
View of Jantar Mantar from the Hawa Mahal
Our very friendly and helpful rickshaw driver who patiently waited for us at each and every site we visited in the old city.
The Hawa Mahal is open everyday (including public holidays) from 9:30 am – 4:30 pm.
Map of Jaipur – click to enlarge