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Hawa Mahal

Jaipur is the largest city in Rajasthan and was built in the eighteenth century by Sawai Jai Singh as India s first planned city. Jaipur is a major tourist attraction amongst Indian as well as international travellers. It belongs to the tourist Golden Triangle of Delhi, Jaipur and Agra. It hosts several attractions like the City Palace, Govind Devji Temple, Vidhan Sabha, Birla Temple, several massive Rajput forts and so on. It also serves as a stepping-stone for travellers heading to the desert cities of Jodhpur and Jaisalmer. Jaipur is often called the Pink City in reference to its distinctly coloured buildings, which were originally painted this colour to imitate the red sandstone architecture of Mughal cities. So today, let us have a look at one of the famous Mahals of Jaipur called the Hawa Mahal.

Hawa Mahal
is a palace in Jaipur. It was built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh, and designed by Lal Chand Ustad in the form of the crown of Lord Krishna. Its unique five-storey exterior is also akin to the honeycomb of the beehive with its 953 small windows called jharokhas that are decorated with intricate latticework. The original intention of the lattice was to allow royal ladies to observe everyday life in the street below without being seen, since they had to observe strict purdah (face cover).

Built of red and pink sandstone, the palace is situated on the main thoroughfare in the heart of Jaipur’s business centre. It forms part of the City Palace, and extends to the Zenana or women s chambers, the chambers of the harem. It is particularly striking when viewed early in the morning, lit with the golden light of sunrise.

Architecture

The palace is a five-story pyramidal shaped monument that rises to a height of 50 feet (15 m) from its high base. The top three floors of the structure have a dimension of one room width while the first and second floors have patios in front of them, on the rear side of the structure. The front elevation, as seen from the street, is like a honeycomb web of a beehive built with small portholes. Each porthole has miniature windows and has carved sandstone grills, finials and domes. It is a veritable mass of semi-octagonal bays, which gives the monument its unique façade. The inner face on the back side of the building consists of need-based chambers built with pillars and corridors with least ornamentation, and reach up to the top floor. The interior of the Mahal has been described as “having rooms of different coloured marbles, relieved by inlaid panels or gilding; while fountains adorn the centre of the courtyard”.

Lal Chand Ustad was the architect of this unique structure who also planned Jaipur city, considered then as one of the best-planned cities in India. Built in red and pink coloured sand stone, in keeping with the décor of the other monuments in the city, its colour is a full testimony to the epithet of “Pink City” given to Jaipur. Its façade depicts 953 niches with intricately carved Jharokhas (some are made of wood). It is a stark contrast to the plain looking rear side of the structure. Its cultural and architectural heritage is a true reflection of a fusion of Rajput architecture and Mughal architecture; the Rajput style is seen in the form of domed canopies, fluted pillars, lotus and floral patterns, and the Mughal style is evident in its stone inlay filigree work and arches.

The entry to the Hawa Mahal from the city palace side is through an imperial door. It opens into a large courtyard, which has double storied buildings on three sides, with the Hawa Mahal enclosing it on the east side. An archaeological museum is also housed in this courtyard.

Hawa Mahal was also known as the chef-d œuvre of Maharaja Jai Singh as it was his favourite resort because of the elegance and built-in interior of the Mahal. The cooling effect in the chambers, provided by the breeze passing through the small windows of the façade, was enhanced by the fountains provided at the centre of each of the chambers.

The top two floors of the Hawa Mahal are accessed only through ramps. The Mahal is maintained by the archaeological Department of the Government of Rajasthan.

Restoration and renovation

In 2005, restoration and renovation works on the Mahal were undertaken, after a long gap of 50 years, to give a face lift to the monument at an estimated cost of Rs 45 lakhs.

Visitor information

The Mahal is located to the south of the Jaipur city, at the main road intersection called the Badi Chaupad (big four square). Jaipur city is well connected by road, rail and air links with the rest of the country. Jaipur Railway Station is a central main station on the broad gauge line of the Indian Railways. As well, Jaipur is connected by major highways, and by the International Airport at Sanganer, at a distance of 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) from the city.

Entry to the Hawa Mahal is not from the front but from a side road to the rear end. Facing the Hawa Mahal, turning right and again to the first right, leads to an archway entry and then to the rear side of the building.

So this is in short about the Hawa Mahal. Rightly named so, do take out the time and visit this place when you are visiting Jaipur the next time.

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