Hawa Mahal is synonymous with Jaipur in a way Eiffel Tower is with Paris. It’s an iconic monument and a major tourist attraction in Jaipur. It is no surprise that Hawa Mahal is the most photographed tourist attraction in Jaipur as well as one of the top places to click Instagram worthy pictures in Jaipur! Despite living in Jaipur for years, I couldn’t explore this beautiful building until recently. I visited Hawa Mahal soon after the famous or infamous Demonetization of high value Indian currency notes in 2016.
Hawa Mahal facade dominates Sirehdyodi Bazar on eastern perimeter of City Palace. It follows principle of the repetitive pattern of windows & domed pavilions stacked together to resemble a honeycomb design. This is what makes Hawa Mahal a unique structure.
For most foreign tourists, Hawa Mahal is something straight out of a fairy tale and for others, it is an exotic building. Many travelers and tourists find it hard to describe the architecture of Hawa Mahal. Some believe that Hawa Mahal follows an eccentric design pattern without any specific purpose. I think otherwise! It follows certain order and pattern, especially the concept of symmetry.
This is part 2 of my previous post – Why you must visit and explore Hawa Mahal in Jaipur
Hawa Mahal when literally translated into English means Palace of Winds. It is named so because its top floor is called Hawa Mandir or Temple of wind. Hawa Mahal was designed in a way to allow air to pass through the lattices and small windows.
Expecting a low turnout due to the ongoing currency shortage during the demonetization, I was proved wrong. There were many tourists. It took me merely five minutes and Rs 50 to get an entry ticket. I entered Hawa Mahal through Anandpoli gate which leads to a courtyard.
At the other end is Chandrapoli gate adorned with five Hindu Gods and deities along with Dwarpal on either sides.
Lord Ganesha, Vishnu, Lakshmi, Shiva and Kalki grace this Pol or entrance gate. This gate leads to the main courtyard with the fountain in its center and single story building on north, east and west sides.
Layout of Hawa Mahal
A five stories structure towards the East is what we know as Hawa Mahal. All these five story or levels have unique names – Sharad Mandir, Ratan Mandir, Vichitra Mandir, Prakash Mandir and Hawa Mandir. Rooms towards South are called Pratap Mandir, a private area of Maharajah Sawai Pratap Singh, its founder. The rooms towards North is Bhojanshala or the kitchen.
Maharajah Sawai Pratap Singh was a great lover of architecture and art forms like poetry, literature, painting, dance and singing. Hawa Mahal was his personal retreat to engage in his love for these art forms. He worshipped Lord Krishna at Vichitra Mandir being his ardent devotee. Autumn season was celebrated at Sharad mandir on ground floor; Sharad means autumn in Hindi.
After checking out Sharad Mandir, it was turn of Ratan mandir on the first floor. Ratan Mandir has colored glass work, resembling the colors of precious and semi precious stones with which Jaipur is closely associated.
Prakash Mandir is open to the sky. It has two screens in east and west direction. Because it is lit well due to Prakash or sunlight, ity is called Prakash Mandir.
Hawa Mandir has a screen towards east direction & it is open from rest three sides. It is topmost floor. The name of Hawa Mahal is derived from Hawa Mandir section.
The access to top floors is through the ramp. There are no stairs to reach these floors.
There is a logic for constructing ramp instead of stair case in Hawa Mahal. Hawa Mahal was built and designed in a way to enable the royal women to witness the street processions without being seen by the public. In those days women were not permitted to step out of the royal abode – City Palace without Purdah. Ghaghras and Odhns, a dress worn by these women were quite heavy and required the help of maids. Ramp facilitated for easy movement of the royal women dressed in this heavy attire. The lattices in Hawa Mahal allowed royal women to witness the streets of Jaipur from the confines of City Palace.
To serve this purpose, Hawa Mahal was connected to the section housing queens and women of the City Palace – Zenana Dyodi.
From the top floor of Hawa Mandir you can enjoy the panoramic view of the city. This view is hard to find from any other place. It’s a good place to witness the heritage and beauty of the pink city, Jaipur.
There is an extra annexure with a courtyard and rooms.
Hawa Mahal History
Build in 1799 AD by Lal Chand Usta and commissioned by Maharajah Sawai Pratap Singh, the combination of Jharokas, lattice-work and windows makes Hawa Mahal a unique structure. It is 87 feet high with a unique blend of Rajput and Mughal architectural style and shaped like a Mukut or crown of Lord Krishna.
Maharajah Sawai Pratap Singh was the grandson of Maharajah Sawai Jai Singh II, the founder of Jaipur city. His term was marked with the constant attacks from Marathas. In many ways, its unfortunate that a great lover of art forms, literature, painting, and architecture was constantly worried. Maharajah Sawai Pratap Singh was the only successor to give an impetus to architecture. In Jaipur’s history, only three rulers have contributed significantly towards built heritage, art and culture – Maharajah Sawai Jai Singh II, Maharajah Sawai Pratap Singh and Maharajah Ram Singh II.
Hawa Mahal is a symbol of the grandeur, skills and epitome of the Rajput architecture. Hawa Mahal is the only monument from Rajputana (erstwhile Rajasthan) which is widely recognized and loved. It is not merely an exotic structure meant for depiction of the great skills and workmanship which Jaipur and Rajput architecture attained. Hawa Mahal has been in use for more than 200 years. In a way, it has become emblem of pink city! It has enthralled the visitors and travelers with its magnificent architecture ever since it was built!
If you love art, history and architecture, there is no reason to not visit Hawa Mahal. Its one of the most accessible tourist attractions of Jaipur since it is located next to the famous bazaar of Jaipur – Johari Bazar. I’m glad that I visited Hawa mahal. Unless you visit this beautiful monument, you won’t know what you are missing! TIP: Although very few tourists venture inside Hawa Mahal, it gets crowded since its a small building. Choose odd hours to avoid the rush during tourist season.
Hawa Mahal Timing: Hawa Mahal is open for visitors between 9 AM to 5 PM.
Hawa Mahal Address – Hawa Mahal is in Sirehdyodi bazar near Johari bazar, Jaipur. Entrance to Hawa Mahal is through the gate in Tripolia Bazaar near Badi Chaupar. Another option to visit Hawa Mahal is through the Goverdhan Nath ji Temple entrance in Sirehdyodi Bazar.