Hawa Mahal

Hawa Mahal, literally meaning the Palace of Winds is situated in the heart of Jaipur city in Rajasthan, India. It was built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh. The beautiful palace has a peculiar honeycomb like shape. The five storey palace was designed by Lal Chand Ustad. It has 953 beautiful and intricately carved Jharokhas or latticed windows which were meant for the use of royal ladies so that they could enjoy watching the street processions below without themselves being seen by any other person or strangers. It is made of red pink sandstone which is the characteristic color of most of the monuments in Jaipur. Hawa Mahal is a part of the main City Palace Complex and extends to its Zenana or the Chamber of Women.

The five storey pyramid shaped Hawa Mahal rises graciously to a height of 50 ft against the backdrop of Thar Desert. The front portion of Hawa Mahal looks like a beehive with small potholes. These potholes are actually miniature windows that are decorated with finials, carved sandstone grills and domes, giving the monument its unique façade. There are fountains in the courtyard of the palace and its interiors have been designed keeping the comfort of the royal ladies. The rooms of the palace are decorated with marbles of different colors. Hawa Mahal represents a fusion of the Hindu Rajput style of architecture and the Mogul architecture. Rajput style is evident in its fluted pillars, domed canopies and beautiful floral patterns while the Islamic style is evident in its arches and filigree work. Its plain rear is in stark contrast to its elaborately carved front façade.

Hawa Mahal has a beautiful air ventilation system and its interior rooms and courtyard remain cool and pleasant even during scorching sunny days of summers. Water fountains in the courtyard used to augment the cooling effect of the air entering into the palace. Hawa Mahal was the favorite summer resort of Maharaja Jai Singh who used to frequent it during summer season. Top two floors of the beautiful palace are accessible only through ramps. The bazaars near Hawa Mahal remind one of the avenues on Paris, while the palace itself has been likened with Versailles by many distinguished architects and historians.

You can enter into the Hawa Mahal through an imperial door of the City Palace. The gateway opens into a spacious courtyard with double storey buildings on either side. There is a museum in the courtyard which displays paintings, artifacts and armory of the medieval times. One can have a panoramic view of Jaipur city from the top of Hawa Mahal. Gaze towards the west from its top and you will see the fortifying Amer Fort. You can view the golden sands of Thar Desert on the southern and eastern sides of the palace. You can also view Jantar Mantar from the top of the palace. All this amazing transformation of the otherwise desolate landscape around Hawa Mahal has been made possible due to the vision and consistent efforts of Maharajas of Rajasthan. The best time to see Hawa Mahal is early morning when it looks awesome in the golden light hues of the rising sun.

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