How often have we been told not to build castles in the air? Very often indeed, but if you are a dreamer and wish to see this 'palace of the winds' which is not just in your imagination but a real palace, then come to the 'pink city' of Rajasthan and see the Hawa Mahal of Rajasthan. Each wall of the palace reinforces the idea that 'dreams truly can come true', and the whole structure is such a beautiful sight that you possibly cannot describe it in words.
To the north of the Jaipur city's main road intersection, the Badi Chaupad, stands Hawa Mahal of Rajasthan - the world famous landmark of Jaipur in Rajasthan, the best known specimen of fanciful architecture. Jaipur's signature building, the Hawa Mahal of Rajasthan, a multi layered palace, was built by Sawai Pratap Singh (grand son of Sawai Jai Singh and son of Sawai Madhoo Singh) in 1799 AD and Mr. Lal Chand Usta was the architect. This pyramid shaped five storey building along the main street of the old city is in pink splendor with semi octagonal and delicately honey combed sandstone windows with arched roofs. As one looks at this building, one realizes that the rear side of the building is comparatively very plain and lacks much of ornamentation. One is rather surprised at the contrast, since in the front there is intricate carving and much attention has been paid to even minute details yet the backside is more a mass of pillars and passages. Famous for it's beehive like structure, the Hawa Mahal of Rajasthan is interplay of red and pink sand stone, carefully and painstakingly outlined with white borders and motifs. The palaces and forts of yesteryears, which were witness to the royal processions and splendours are now living monuments, accepted quite naturally into the lifestyle of the people of the "Pink City" Jaipur of Rajasthan.
Architecture of Hawa Mahal in Jaipur, Rajasthan
Among all the states of erstwhile princely India, Rajputana (now Rajasthan) is undoubtedly one of the most colorful. Despite their time-consuming preoccupation with war, the Rajputs, at all periods of their history, have been patrons of art and architecture. They were great builders, and their forts and palaces of Rajasthan, built for reasons of security, residence and leisure of the Maharajas and their women, are not only impressive but a very important part of Rajasthan's cultural and architectural heritage.
A study of Rajput monuments shows that it was strongly influenced by Mughal architecture. However, the Rajputs adapted and used Mughals styles so tastefully in their buildings that it led to the development of a distinct architectural style of great sophistication and imaginative invention. The Rajput style, on one hand, has traditional Hindu elements like the chhatris (small domed canopies, supported by pillars), fluted pillars, lotus and floral patterns, etc., and, on the other hand, it has elements like stone inlay work and arches, which are reflective of the Islamic style of architecture of Rajasthan.
The facade of the Hawa Mahal of Rajasthan has sometimes aroused unfair judgments as 'a baroque folly' and a 'bizarre piece of architecture'. The five storeyed facades encrusted with elegant trellis work on windows and small balconies have 953 niches. Lal Chand Usta who designed the Hawa Mahal had dedicated it to Lord Krishna and Radha but its fanciful structure appealed to the Maharaja who found it ideal for the seraglio.
The pyramidal outline of the structure has one characteristic feature of architecture - symmetry, and, as in Jain temples, uses repetition of motifs to great enhancement of beauty and looks: "The forms employed are familiar enough, but the bays are crammed together, piled and multiplied so that they combine to form a larger version of themselves, in a manner strikingly reminiscent of a temple shikhara". It has been remarked that the Hawa Mahal marks a certain decline in the architectural standards of Jaipur of Rajasthan. This may have been the result of the increasing influence of Mughal architecture. Hawa Mahal of Rajasthan shows a noticeable similarity with the Panch Mahal - the palace of winds at Fatehpur Sikri.
The Monument of Hawa Mahal of Jaipur in Rajasthan, India
The city of Jaipur of Rajasthan reflects a clever amalgamation of the Rajput and Mughal styles, which has given this city a unique character. Being close to Delhi and Agra, and the fact that its rulers were powerful members of the Mughal durbar (court), ensured that its rulers kept the special Mughal touches of filigreeing marble and sandstone alive. Fresco painting and inlaid mirror work has also been used extensively to create a fantasy world of color and richness in the midst of bleak surroundings. This love for decoration was not confined to the royal houses but filtered down to the common man as well. This is apparent when one takes a walk down the broad streets of this delightful city of Rajasthan.
Jaipur of Rajasthan was founded in 1727 by one of the greatest rulers of the Kachhawaha clan, the astronomer-king Sawai Jai Singh II (1699-1743), and designed by the brilliant architect Vidhyadhar Bhattacharya. Later rulers made their own contributions to the city by building more palaces and temples during their reign. Designed in accordance with ancient Hindu treatise on architecture, the Shilpa Shastra, Jaipur of Rajasthan follows a grid system and is encircled by a fortified wall. The main palace lies in the heart of the city of Rajasthan and occupies the space of the central grid. The rest of the grids were cut across neatly by wide lanes, which divided the area into tidy, well-laid rectangles of commercial and residential use.
Most places of interest of Rajasthan are located mainly in the walled city. The City Palace complex is the most important landmark of Jaipur of Rajasthan and has a number of interesting buildings within its precincts. If one were to select the most outstanding of all buildings in the walled city, or the most unusual, then the Hawa Mahal would easily stand out. Built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh, this remarkable structure adjoins the outside of the City Palace wall. Sawai Pratap Singh was a great devotee of Lord Krishna and he dedicated this mahal to the Lord, its intricate exterior wall looks like a mukut (crown), which adorns Lord Krishna's head. It overlooks one of the main street and lies sandwiched between more prosaic buildings.
This five-story, pyramid-shaped structure is made up of small casements, each with tiny windows and arched roofs with hanging cornices, exquisitely modeled and carved. The Hawa Mahal of Jaipur, Rajasthan is made of red and pink sand stone, beautifully outlined with white borders and motif's painted with quick lime. Its façade makes Hawa Mahal of Rajasthan look more like a screen than a palace. Its top three stories are just a single room thick but at the base are two courtyards. It is a fifty-foot high thin shield, less than a foot in thickness, but has over 900 niches and a mass of semi-octagonal bays, carved sandstone grills, finials and domes, which give this palace its unique façade.
Famous for its Beehive like structure, the entrance to the Hawa Mahal of Rajasthan is in the rear side of the main building, the front portion of the building having no entry at all, unlike conventional buildings. The entrance to Hawa Mahal of Rajasthan is from the City Palace side, through a stately door which opens into a spacious courtyard. The courtyard has a double storeyed building on three sides. There is a small archaeological museum here. Only the eastern wing has three more storeys above, which are just a single room thick. 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. The upper floors are reached through a ramp rather than the regular stairs, a device to facilitate movement of palanquins carried by servants. This is a less tiresome way as the ramp ascends lazily to the top of the freestanding square tower. Imagine queens and princesses loaded with the heaviest jewelry and covered with the endless yardage of Clothes - skirts and sarees, climbing to the uppermost pavilion heaving and painting for respite from the sweltering summer heat. Here even the May-June winds feel so mild and cool. Jaipur itself appears in all its grandeur, with straight, wide roads, intersections and teeming crowds in the market of Rajasthan.
There is no definite record as to why Hawa Mahal of Rajasthan was built, only conjecture. It certainly was not meant for residential purposes. That becomes clear if one were to view this unusual structure from the rear side. There is a total lack of ornamentation on the inner face of the building. The chambers are plain and more mass of pillars and passages leading to the top story. It does not seem to be part of the same building.
Built at a time when royal ladies observed very strict purdah (covering the faces), it is widely believed that this interesting palace, with its screened balconies, provided the ladies of the zenana (royal household) an opportunity to watch processions and other activities on the streets below without being observed themselves. The openings here are almost like peepholes, partially block by fine latticework in lime plaster, and some with plain wooden windows. The Hawa Mahal of Rajasthan lives up to its name as one climbs up to the balconies and is almost swept away by the cool breeze. The royal ladies not only enjoyed the view but also did so in great comfort and style. Today, Hawa Mahal of Rajasthan provides the visitor with some excellent views of the old palaces and houses of the city and a bird's eye view of the Jantar Mantar (a medieval observatory and an important tourist place in Jaipur) of Rajasthan. Many insist that the best time to visit Hawa Mahal of Rajasthan is in the early morning, right when the sun is rising. As the palace bathes in the golden light of the sun, it looks like a fantastic image conjured up by the mind in a trance. The palace glows like an impalpable dream, which makes you feel that even if you dare blink your eyes, it will quickly dissolve into thin air. The entrance to this strange building is on the rear side.
Location and Transport
Falling under the Golden Triangle of India and being visited by millions of domestic and foreign tourists, the city of Jaipur of Rajasthan is a place of high tourist interest. The Pink City of Rajasthan, as commonly known, has all sorts of amenities for domestic and foreign tourists. The city of Rajasthan is linked by Rail, Road, and Air and attracts high traffic in winters.
Jaipur Airport of Rajasthan is located near Sanganer at a distance of 13 kms from the city of Jaipur in Rajasthan. Many domestic airlines connect the city of Rajasthan to all the major cities of India including Udaipur of Rajasthan and Jodhpur of Rajasthan as well. Flights for Delhi and Mumbai run on a regular basis. The airport has been granted the status of an international airport and connects to the foreign cities like Sharjaha and Muscat too.
Jaipur Railway Station of Rajasthan is a central main station of the state of Rajasthan. The vast rail track of Indian Railways connects Jaipur station of Rajasthan with all other cities of India. There are numerous trains which run on a regular basis to and from Jaipur of Rajasthan. Shatabdi and Intercity connects Jaipur of Rajasthan to Delhi. Shatabdi is fully air conditioned train starts from Delhi (5.55 AM) to Jaipur (10.35 AM) of Rajasthan, you can also try Intercity Exp starts from Delhi at (4.55 PM) reaches Jaipur (10.35 PM) of Rajasthan. There are other trains also to Jaipur of Rajasthan from other metro cities.
Jaipur of Rajasthan is well connected by road to major cities in India. Excellent road network serves people to enjoy a comfortable journey to and from Jaipur of Rajasthan. This mode of traveling is quite easy and comparatively cheap. Regular bus services from nearby cities connect Jaipur to the other cities. Deluxe Buses, AC coaches and Government buses are available for the convenience of the passengers.
Jaipur Local Transport
One can easily travel around Jaipur of Rajasthan as there are more than enough means of transport in Jaipur of Rajasthan. The taxis in black and yellow, which are frequently seen in the metropolitan cities, are not usual in Jaipur of Rajasthan. In Jaipur of Rajasthan, one can hire private taxis/ cabs, which are easily available. There is a wide range of private taxis to choose from. People can always hire taxi according to their preference, comfort and luxury. Taxis can be hired for day or days for sightseeing purposes and excursions as well.
People usually prefer cycle-rickshaws and three-wheelers for short distances. Cycle-rickshaw is the cheapest mode to travel in the city. One can also opt for three-wheelers, which charge very nominal fare to reach predefined destinations. These autos run on sharing basis, which move from one point to another for getting more and more passengers. Unmetered Auto-Rickshaws are also easily available round the city. Every Auto-rickshaw driver has the fare chart, which provides the fare that to be charged for different distances. The farther the distance, the more the price one has to pay.
Rajasthan State Roadways offers comfortable public transportation in Jaipur. The city buses run by Rajasthan State Roadways are the most common means of transport used by people. Buses charge a very nominal price for their service. They don't have a fixed time schedule but operate on a regular basis. In totality, while visiting Jaipur, there is no need to worry about transportation as Jaipur offers ample means of transport to make your journey comfortable and a memorable one.
||Next to the entrance of City Palace in Jaipur of Rajasthan
||Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh of Rajasthan
||Its peculiar Rajputana architecture
|Best time to visit
||October to February
||Open 0900 - 17 hrs.
|Distance of Jaipur from major cities