Hawa Mahal in Jaipur – A Complete Travel Guide
Jaipur’s Hawa Mahal forms a part of the distinctive circuit of monuments in India. Tourists all over the world visit the city to witness this most iconic landmark of Jaipur. Hawa Mahal also known as Wind Mahal mainly for the reasons attributed to its construction thereby making it windy to its core.
The monument mesmerizes the world with its construct of all those little windows and arouses the innocent inquisitiveness not just to its visitors but to viewers otherwise.
History behind Hawa Mahal
The Royal City of Jaipur was ruled and governed by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh during the period between 1778 AD to 1803 AD. The beautiful monument as it stands today was built by the Maharaja in 1799 AD as an extension to the women’s quarter called as Zenana of the City Palace. The most distinctive feature of the monument is its rare shape which resembles to a honeycomb from a beehive. The palace is accredited to have an innumerable 954 windows called as the Jharokhas. It was common practice during that period for the royal women to stay within the four walls.
The innumerable windows owe their existence to the said culture whereby the royal women would sit behind the windows to have a took of the city below without being noticed. The latticed windows are in fact angled in such a manner that they overlook the main market of the city and central boulevard. The idea was to allow the women to witness the royal processions or religious ceremonies that would pass along the boulevard.
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The Indian ancient system of separation of women especially the wives and concubines of the Maharajah from the outside world is called purdah which means curtain. The exceptional of the palace is the fact that the palace is bereft of the traditional handicraft curtains instead there are intricate marble grills that cover each of the small Jharokhas on the balcony. Thus the palace is a unique blend of artisan magnificence displayed both in the interiors as well as the exteriors.
The palace owes its name to the cooling breeze that encompassed the palace through the windows and thereby giving it the name Wind Palace. Unfortunately, this breeze has diminished ever since in 2010 when a lot of windows had to be shut to stop the damage caused to the structure by the tourists.
Architecture of Hawa Mahal
The architecture of Hawa Mahal is a unique blend of the Hindu Rajput style and the Islamic Mughal style of designing. Although, the design resembles to the that of Mughal palaces which used to possess sections of screened lattice for women. The remark-ability to the structure was brought over to it by its Architect Lal Chand Ustad. And acts as an optical illusion from the streets of being a massive structure. But in reality the structure is only an insignificant part of the city palace.
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The structure is built over five floors out of which three most popular to tourists are the Hawa Mandir, Prakash Mandir and Vichitra Mandir, which was used in praise of Lord Shree Krishna by the Maharajah. The other attractive and famous mandirs are Ratan Madir and Sharad Mandir which are on second and first floors respectively. The Sharad Mandir as the name suggests is used for celebration of autumn while the Ratan Mandir is famous for the differently colored glass works.
The most amusing and strategic fact of the palace is that unlike stairs found generally in palaces, the Hawa Mahal does not have any stairs instead there are ramps made for the ease of carrying palanquins of the royal ladies. The palace also incorporates a museum which displays different antiques, weapons and other artifacts which belonged to the Rajput rulers. The museum also houses famous things like ceremonial armor and miniature paintings.
The folk lore brings forth that Maharaja Sawai Pratap was an ardent devotee of Lord Shree Krishna and so the structure attributes its similarities to the crown of Lord Shree Krishna and the peacock tail thus implying both royalty and power respectively. Historians also bring forth the fact that the structure might have its inspiration lay in the Khetri Mahal of Jhunjhunu a place in the Shekhawati region of the State of Rajasthan.
The palace was built in 1770 AD by Bhopal Singh and is also known as the wind palace. However the difference lies in the fact that the structure owes its air flow to the numerous pillars that it bears instead of the windows and walls as in the Hawa Mahal.
The structure is made from pink and red sandstone however during one of the instances of visit of Prince Albert of Wales to the Royal City of Jaipur, the then Maharaja Ram Singh decided to give the exteriors of the palace a touch of the pink shade in 1876 AD. It is a common concept that the shade pink denotes hospitality and so the Maharaja thought that the gesture would be a great way to welcome the Prince. The city of Jaipur for this reason is also called famously as the Pink City of India apart from being named as the Paris of India.
The structure is not devoid of its uniqueness owing to various reasons one among them being the fact that the Hawa Mahal is purportedly the tallest building without a foundation worldwide. On having a close observation of the building it is noticed that the building owns a slight curve which holds up for a strong base being devoid of a strong foundation.
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Location & Address of Hawa Mahal
The magnificent palace is located at Badi Chaupar in the old city of Jaipur, which is the capital of Rajasthan. The city is distanced at a four to five hours drive from Delhi, the capital city of India. In fact the city is also a part of the popular Golden Triangle Tourist Circuit and is easily accessible by air, rail or road. There are options such as regular buses, cars, taxis and auto rickshaws available to the tourists for commute within the city.
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Places to visit nearby Hawa Mahal
The palace is surrounded with plenty of shops selling traditional clothing and textiles. However, the place is a perfect place to shop from only for tourists with extensive bargaining skills. The suggestion nevertheless shall be to shop from nearby places like Bapu Bazaar, Chandpole Bazaar or Johari Bazaar. These places are known for inexpensive yet extravagant jewelries, handicrafts and the Rajasthani special turbans. Some of the other place to visit near Hawa Mahal are:
Chokhi Dhani Village
It is one of the best places to get an amazing experience of the wonderful Rajasthani culture. It contains different paintings, performances and a whole set-up of the famous battle of the Haldighati. Apart from that, they serve some delicious Rajasthani cuisine to satisfy your taste buds. The whole place has a set-up of a village and it will give you great feels.
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This is a place you must visit if you have interest in science. It is a World UNESCO Heritage site. It was completed in 1734 and has 19 architectural astronomical instruments. People are left in awe as these were made back in the date when there were no great machines.
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It is right opposite to Jantar Mantar. It was built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh. It is a very beautiful place and a landmark of Jaipur. If you love exploring history, then this is surely a place for you. The palace has two more Mahals in it which are known as the Chandra Mahal and Mubarak Mahal.
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It is a beautiful palace which is located in the middle of the Maan Sagar Lake. It contains the architectural style of the Rajputs. It is not possible to go inside the Jal Mahal as it is close. However, the view from the outside is also amazing and it is worth a visit.
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It is one of the most visited forts in Rajasthan. The fort is made out of marble and sandstone both. It contains a lot of gardens, palaces and even halls. Amer fort is on a hill and thus, there a lot of options to reach there. You can either trek, take a cab or an elephant ride.
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Best Time to Visit Hawa Mahal
The best time to visit the city of Jaipur is between September and February as the temperature during these months are comfortable and ideal for visit.
A visit to the Hawa Mahal alone takes nearly two hours. Morning is the ideal time of the day to visit. The sunlight of morning falling on the structure lights it up to give a goldish shade over to the pink color. The sight is pleasant gift to the eyes and a memory to the brain for a lifetime. It is advisable to hire a local guide for a clear explanation apart from the fact that income for tourism is a major source of income for not just the State Government but also the locals.
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Charges, Timings and Photography
There is a nominal entry fee levied for entry to the palace premises which is fixed at INR 50 for Indians and INR 200 for Foreigners. The palace is thrown open to public between 9 AM and 4:30 PM on all days of the week.
Photography is allowed within the premises and inside the Hawa Mahal at a nominal rate of INR 10 for Indians and INR 30 for Foreigners.
Tourists have the option of availing the benefit of a composite ticket which is valid for a period of two days. Using the ticket tourists can visit all attractions nearby like the City Palace, Jantar Mantar, Ram Bagh Garden among others. Such composite ticket is charged at INR 300 for Indians and INR 1000 for Foreigners.
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