One of the most popular attractions in Jaipur, Hawa Mahal or the ‘Palace of Winds’ is perhaps also one of the most iconic landmark of the city. It often is regarded as the pictorial model image of the capital city of Rajasthan, Jaipur.
A wonderful combination of Mughal and Rajasthan styles of architecture, the Mahal is known for its honeycomb shaped front façade with windows having beautiful carvings.
The Hawa Mahal Jaipur acts as an optical illusion from the street level, because it appears as a massive structure. However in actual fact the building is just an elaborate facade which is only an inconsequential part of the City Palace. The Hawa Mahal Jaipur covers 5 floors and this pyramidal structure has two major significances.
The top pyramidal structure is representation of the crown of the Hindu god Krishna. The front face of the body work of the entire building represents and the the tail of a peacock implying royalty and power.
The palace was constructed from pink sandstone but in 1876 the exterior walls were painted with a calcium oxide paint that gives Jaipur its distinct pink colour.
It was in 1799 that the Kachhwaha Rajput ruler, Sawai Pratap Singh, grandson of Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh who built Jaipur, constructed Hawa Mahal as a continuation of the Royal City Palace. Sawai Pratap Singh’s devotion to Lord Krishna is evident in the palace’s construction as it resembles the lord’s crown.
Though many reasons are cited behind the construction of the fort, Purdah system followed by the Rajputs is said to be one of the main causes. During those days, Rajput royal women did not appear in public or in front of strangers.
However, they were keen to follow the day-to-day events and royal processions occurring on the streets. It is for their benefit that the Hawa Mahal was built, complete with small windows and screened balconies. This gave the women a sense of freedom, without appearing in public.
Hawa Mahal, designed as a beehive castle with small windows, has a height of 50 feet from its base. This structure, erected on a thin shield or podium approximately fifty feet high, has walls less than a foot thick. Constructed of red and pink sandstones by Lal Chand Ustad, Hawa Mahal is famous for its windows or ‘Jharokhas’ which enable free circulation of air within the structure.
Its entrance is a door which leads to a spacious courtyard surrounded by two-storey buildings on three sides. Of the five storeys of the Mahal, the top three storeys have the thickness of a single room while the bottom storeys have courtyards.
The interior of the Hawa Mahal is stark and plain with passages and pillars reaching to the top storey. The building does not have stairs to reach the upper floors; the storeys are connected by slopes. From Hawa Mahal, you have an excellent view of the city. The monument also has an archeological museum.
Hawa Mahal has been built in the shape of a crown. Some even compare the look to that of Krishna’s crown. Reason why it is related to Krishna’s crown is because Sawai Pratap Singh was believed to be a great devotee of Lord Krishna.
The monument stands upright because of its pyramidal shape. It is a five-storey building, but due to the lack of solid foundations, it is curved and leans at an angle of 87 degree. Further, its distinctive rosy colour, which is because of the natural sandstone, is the reason behind Jaipur getting its nickname, .i.e., the Pink City.
Hawa Mahal’s unique attraction is its 953 windows that cover the lace-like walls to allow royal ladies to watch the daily drama in the street below, without being noticed. The view of Hawa Mahal that we get from the street is essentially a huge screened porch, but one of the best examples of Rajput architecture in India.
The city of Jaipur is well-connected with other Indian cities by air, rail and road and also with some international cities by air. The Jaipur International Airport is situated at Sanganer, a southern suburb at a distance of 13 kilometres from Jaipur.
The Hawa Mahal is located on the main road near Badi Chaupar and City Palace complex. It is walking distance from other attractions such as Jantar Mantar and City Palace.
How to visit
The Hawa Mahal can be visited any time of the day. And to truly appreciate the architecture you can visit on a hot windless day. You will still be able to feel the draught of wind. However it is advisable to visit Rajasthan during winter as the temperature is the most pleasant then.
Entrance Fee: INR 200 for Foreign Tourists and INR 50 for Indians
Visiting Time: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Things to do nearby
There are numerous attractions around Hawa Mahal such as the famed Jantar Mantar, Govind Devji temple, Amer Fort, Nahargarh Fort, Ram Niwas Bagh, BM Birla Planetarium, Jain Temple, Statue Circle, Sisodia Rani Garden etc. However the few “Things to do” includes
- Visit the residence of the royal family – the City Palace – in the morning
- Admire the world’s largest stone sundial at noon which is also one of the World UNESCO Heritage site – The Jantar Mantar
- Watch the spectacular evening sound and light show at Amber Fort
- Shop for authentic Rajasthani artwork and handloom at Baapu Bazaar.
- Watch a night show at the grand Raj Madir Cinema.
- Experience the adrenaline rush of Zip Lining at Neemrana
- Experience the wilderness of Ranthambore National Park
- Experience real life supernatural at the Bhangarh Fort – India’s official haunted location
- Head out early in the morning to visit Bagru and admire traditional hand block printing techniques.
- Take a day out to visit Pushkar and Ajmer, two different religious holy towns located beside each other and yet living harmoniously for hundreds of years.