Hawa Mahal is synonymous with Jaipur quite like the Eiffel Tower is with the Paris. An iconic monument and 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!
This is part 2 of my previous post – Why you must visit and explore Hawa Mahal in Jaipur
Picture of Hawa Mahal shot in 1880 AD.
For most foreign tourists, Hawa Mahal is something straight out of a fairy tale and for others it is nothing less than 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 does follow certain order and pattern, especially the concept of symmetry for which it is admired and loved!
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.
History of Hawa Mahal
Build in 1799 AD by Lal Chand Usta and commissioned by Maharajah Sawai Pratap Singh, combination of Jharokas, lattice-work and windows makes Hawa Mahal a unique structure. It is 87 feet high with an unique blend of Rajput and Mughal architectural style and shaped like a Mukut or crown of Lord Krishna.
Despite living in Jaipur for years, I couldn’t explore this beautiful building until recently. I visited Hawa Mahal last November soon after the famous or infamous Demonetization of high value Indian currency notes.
Entrance to the building is from the other end in Tripolia Bazaar.
Expecting a low turnout due to the ongoing currency shortage during peak tourist season, I was proved wrong. There were many tourists both Indian as well as foreign. However, it took me merely five minutes to get an entry ticket from the ticket window. After paying Rs 50, the entry fee for Indians I entered the Hawa Mahal through Anandpoli gate which leads to a courtyard.
At the other end is Chandrapoli gate adorned with five Hindu Gods and deities and 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. Being an ardent devotee of Lord krishna, he would worship Lord Krishna at Vichitra Mandir in Hawa Mahal. 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.
Prakash Mandir is open to sky and has two screens on East and West direction. It’s named so because it is open to sky and this allows plenty of Prakash or light on this floor.
Hawa Mandir has a screen only towards East direction; it is open from rest three sides and is the top most floor. Name of Hawa Mahal is derived from the Hawa Mandir section.
The access to all these 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 from the without being seen by the public. In those days royal women were not permitted to step out of the royal abode -City Palace without Purdah. They used to dress in heavy Ghaghras and Odhnis, a local dress worn by the women of yesteryear. These Ghaghras were dressy and required 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 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, a residential quarter for queens and women.
From top floor of Hawa Mandir you can take a panoramic view of the city with Nahargarh Fort, City palace and Jantar Mantar on one side and the city markets on the other side. This view is hard to replicate from any other site. Hence its a good place to witness the heritage and beauty of the pink city, Jaipur. I enjoyed taking few pictures but large crowd was a problem at Hawa Mandir.
Apart from the main building, there is an extra annex with the courtyard and rooms.
Maharajah Sawai Pratap Singh was the grandson of Maharajah Sawai Jai Singh II, the founder of Jaipur city. His term was marked with constant attacks of Marathas. In many way it was unfortunate that a great lover of art forms, literature, painting and architecture had constant worries on his mind. Maharajah Sawai Pratap Singh was the only successor of Maharajah Sawai Jai Singh II to give an impetus to the great architecture. In the history of Jaipur, only three rulers have significant contributions by way of adding to the built heritage, art and culture – Maharajah Sawai Jai Singh II, Maharajah Sawai Pratap Singh and Maharajah Ram Singh II.
Hawa Mahal facade dominates Sirehdyodi Bazar on eastern perimeter of City Palace. It follows the principle of repetitive pattern of windows & domed pavilions stacked together to resemble a honeycomb design. This is what makes Hawa Mahal a unique structure.
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.