One of the most iconic attractions of Jaipur situated at Badi Choupad – the Hawa Mahal is a five-storey building which looks like a honeycomb of beehives. It also boasts of being the tallest building in the world at height of 80 feet built without a foundation; having a curved architecture which leans at an angle of 87 degree shaped like a pyramidal helping it stay erect for centuries. Rising to a height of over 80 ft, the monument is broader at the base and tapers towards the top.
Hawa Mahal literally translates into the ‘Palace of the Winds’ owing to the 953 windows and jharokhas (portholes) – creating an amazing ventilation due to the Venturi effect (the phenomenon occuring due to the design of windows which force air inside). The palace is a harmonious amalgamation of the Hindu Rajput and Islamic Mughal architectural styles; the Rajput style is evident through its domes canopies, floral patterns, lotus motifs and the fluted pillars, while the stone inlay filigree work and the lavish arches perfectly depict the Mughal style of architecture.
History and architecture
Hawa Mahal was built by Kachhwaha Rajput ruler Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh in the year 1799, and dedicated to Lord Krishna as the building resembles the crown of Krishna. The palace in red and pink sandstone has been designed by Lal Chand Ustad drawing inspiration from the Khetri Mahal (also known as the Wind Palace) at Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan. Lal Chand Ustad has designed the Hawa Mahal as an extension to the City Palace nearby with the purpose of allowing the ladies of the royal family and the court to observe the daily scenes on the busy streets of the Johari Bazaar from the many jharokhas; without being visible themselves as during those days Rajput women observed pardah. Moreover, there is no direct entry from the front and one has to enter from the side of the City Palace, of which it is a part.
Despite the large size of windows the openings are small – more like a peep-hole, the stained glass on windows ensure a magnificent interplay of light; balconies have arched roofs with delicately designed hanging cornices. There is no doubt that the exterior façade of the palace has been richly decorated while the interiors are kept simple with pillared chambers and minimally ornamented corridors.
The palace has five stories with the autumn celebrations being held on first floor or the Sharad Mandir, observe colorful glass adorning the second floor or Ratan Mandir; the front part of these are adorned with patios. The third floor namely Vichitra Mandir is where the Maharaja worshipped Lord Krishna, next is Prakash Mandir having an open terrace to both sides and lastly Hawa Mandir. Unlike the lower two floors, the top three floors have a width that’s not more than a single room.
Here, note that there are no stairs to the upper floors but slopes or ramps designed for the palanquin of the royal ladies. Fountains adorn the center of the building’s courtyard.
The archaeological department of the Government of Rajasthan is responsible for its maintenance; while the Unit Trust of India has helped restore it. For tourists there is a small museum within the premises of the Hawal Mahal. The best time to visit it is at sunrise, when the building and skyline are lit up in the golden glow of the rising sun.
There is no entry fee on —Rajasthan Diwas (30 March), World Heritage Day (18 April), International Museum Day (18 May) and World Tourism Day (27 September).
How to Reach: Jaipur is well-connected by by air, rail and road. The Jaipur International Airport is at Sanganer, at a distance of 13 kilometres.