Jaipur’s most instantly recognizable landmark, the Hawa Mahal, or “Palace of Winds”, stands to the east of the City Palace – Built in 1799 to enable the women of the court to watch street processions while remaining in purdah, its five-storey facade, decked out with hundreds of finely screened windows and balconies, makes the building seems far larger than it really is; in fact, it’s little more than a facade. Once inside, the top storeys have no stairs but ramps, to enable the royal ladies to be carried on their palanquins easily. To get inside the palace itself you need to walk for five minutes around the rear of the building, following the lane that runs north from Tripolia Bazaar. Once inside, you can climb up the back of the facade to the screened niches from where the ladies of the court would once have looked down, and which still offer superb views over the mayhem of Jaipur below.
History of Hawa Mahal
The original palace received an extension in the form of Hawa Mahal in 1799, ordered by Sawai Pratap Singh. The purpose was to allow the ladies of the palace to view the street for people-watching whilst in purdah, a strict rule that prohibits religious women from being seen by males. The location also allowed the ladies to participate and watch street-festivals from up high.
The Hawa Mahal has a total of 953 windows (although small and more similar to peep-holes than windows to prevent the public from viewing the women), each with lattices and balconies. The top three stories are named Vichitra Mandir, Prakash Mandir and Hawa Mandir. Krishna is worshipped at the Vichitra Mandir level.
The palace was built in the shape of Krishna's crown, the Hindu God whom Sawai Pratap Singh was fond of.
Inside of Hawa Mahal © Kattiya L / Shutterstock
When To Visit Hawa Mahal
Jaipur is a fascinating city that lures visitors for its many historical monuments and culture. The best times to visit are during the winter months between November and February as the Summer months reach unbearable highs. To visit the Hawa Mahal, you can purchase a Tourist Pass that enables you to visit other gems in Jaipur if you wish.
The palace itself is open from 9 am to 4.30pm, which includes the Hawa Mahal itself however it’s best appreciated from the outside during the early morning when it glows orange-pink in the rays of the rising sun. If you wish to see the inside of the Hawa Mahal and the palace grounds, which is quite spectacular in itself then a ticket will be needed to enter. Individual tickets can be bought onsite from official vendors for Rps.50 if you do not plan on buying the Tourist Pass ticket.
The Palace is in Bad Choupad and is fairly centrally located so easy to get too. From Jaipur Railway Station, take the bus number 1, 2 or 3 to Bad Choupad. Many hotels encourage tourists to visit the Hawa Mahal as it is the main site of interest in the city, something locals are very proud of - for reasons of demand, many hotels organise group drop-offs for guests to the palace, so be sure to ask. From the Amber Palace, you will need to take a taxi. Be sure to run the taxi meter whenever getting cabs in Jaipur, as many take advantage of unknowledgeable tourists. If you are having a cultural day and coming from Albert Hall Museum, you will need to walk to Ram Niwas Garden and take the number 12 bus.
Featured Image, Hawa Mahal © Mo Wu / Shutterstock