Hawa Mahal Jaipur – Façade Of Beauty

Posted in Asia | February 1, 2011 | 0 Comments


The literal meaning of ‘Hawa Mahal’ is ‘Palace of Winds’. This beautiful piece of work was built in the year 1799. Very often, as kids, we were warned not to build castles in the air. However, here is a very example of what Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh of Jaipur went ahead and did.

The Hawa Mahal Jaipur is an important landmark in the Pink City. Although this monument is nothing more than a façade, it is an interesting and beautiful one nonetheless. The honeycombed building was originally built so that the women of the royal family could come to the balconies and the screened windows of this structure.

Rajput Style of Architecture:

The Hawa Mahal Jaipur is a smart example of the marriage between the Rajput and Mughal styles of architecture. If you do a survey of all the erstwhile states of India, you will find out that the once Rajputana and today’s Rajasthan is the most colorful of them all. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that the state is mostly desert; and is dry and barren. The color does help make life a little brighter.

The Rajputs have, for a long time, been known to be connoisseurs of art and architecture. They were said to be architects and builders of the first order and most of their palaces and forts are nothing less than impressive. The reasons for building most of the structures would have varied. Some were built for security, where others were residential or built for leisure.

The Rajputana style of architecture will have the traditional Hindu elements (the chhatris – small umbrella like canopies) and the fluted pillars. You will find lotus and other floral patterns and motifs around the place. However, some of the distinctive characteristics take from the more Islamic Mughal architecture.

Hawa Mahal Jaipur:

The city of Jaipur is said to have a unique character owing to the buildings and their style of architecture. The Hawa Mahal is a five storey building that is built in the shape of a pyramid. Each storey is made up of smaller casements, where you’ll see tiny screened windows and arched roofs. The façade of the palace makes it look more like a screen, rather than a palace, like the name suggests. The top three stories of the building are only as thick as a single room. Whereas, on the bottom storey, they have two courtyards. The unique façade of the palace is said to be created by this fifty feet high shield that is said to be less than an entire foot in its thickness. However, it is said to boast of semi-octagonal bays, finials, domes and carved grills made from sandstone.

There is no definite record about why the Hawa Mahal was first built. However, given the construction and the cultural aspects of that time, experts claim that it was built for the women of the royal families. It was customary for the women to remain indoors and not show their faces to the men. Given this fact, the women could never watch the processions or feel a sense of freedom. This was exactly what the Hawa Mahal was built for. The screened windows and balconies were for the benefit of the women who could sit there and watch the processions as they passed on the road below; and the façade provided for adequate protection from the prying eyes of the men. This gave the women of that era a sense of freedom.

Living Up To Its Name:

Take a walk up to one of the upper balconies of the structure, and you’ll know where the palace gets its name from. The cool breeze that blows you away will tell you all you needed to know. The entrance to this building can be found on the hind side; and that’s when you will notice that the back of the structure is plain and uninteresting when compared to the dazzle and intricacy of the frontal façade.

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