Ever since Hawa Mahal, an exotic looking building came into being in 1799 AD it has inspired travelers to visit Jaipur. It became synonymous with the city. Travelers coined the word “Palace of Winds” for this stunning piece of architecture because that is what it translated into. Hawa Mahal was commissioned & built by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh. Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II, a photography enthusiast captured “Palace of Wind” in several pictures during the second half of the 19th century. Here’s an account of a traveler -Edwin Arnold who visited Jaipur in the late 1800s & chronicled this in his book “India Revisited”
“…….. Hawa Mahal, or “Hall of the Winds,” a vision of daring and dainty loveliness, nine stories of rosy masonry and delicate overhanging balconies and latticed windows, soaring with tier after tier of fanciful architecture in a pyramidal form, a very mountain of airy and audacious beauty, through the thousand pierced screens and gilded arches of which the Indian air blows cool over the flat roofs of the very highest houses. Aladdin’s magician could have called into existence no more marvelous abode…….”
Inspiration for the “Jaipur Then & Now” series is the 290th birthday of Jaipur.
Jaipur was founded on 18 November 1727 AD as India’s first planned city by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II. Jaipur Now & Then explores Jaipur by comparing old & new pictures shot from the same location.
So, what has changed over the last one and half-century? The road facing Hawa Mahal now has a divider that was unheard of in the old days. Cars & automobiles have replaced bullock carts. Shutters have replaced fabric awnings on the shop front.
Traffic around Hawa Mahal has become tough to grapple with. The entire stretch is crowded throughout the day.
Tourist buses make a mandatory stopover at Hawa Mahal on their way to Amer Fort. With tourists around, hawkers & sellers are looking for an opportunity to sell.
Shops opposite Hawa Mahal sell touristy stuff and are always buzzing with tourists and sellers. It is one of the top tourist places to visit in Jaipur.
This picture captures Badi Chaupar, a market square near the famous Johri Bazar & Hawa Mahal. It does not capture the grandeur of “Palace of Wind” but it is a contextual picture showing Hawa Mahal and its surroundings. Badi Chaupar occupied a prominent place in the history of Jaipur city either for the water fountains or as a water source- there was an underground canal flowing underneath. But all that has changed now both in terms of utility and aesthetics.
This is how Badi Chaupar looks like now. Hawa Mahal still continues to charm tourists as before & it is one of the best-maintained heritage sites in Jaipur. The ongoing metro work has increased the traffic woes for both tourists and locals. The world certainly has changed and so has traffic! The wide roads of yesteryear have shrunk in the name of development, encroachment & traffic.
Check out other posts in Jaipur Then and Now.
How did you like this exploration of Hawa Mahal through its history in these pictures? Will love to hear your views, comments, and suggestions.