After walking the bustling streets of the Old City of Jaipur, also dubbed the Pink City because of the colour of almost all of its buildings, I cross the chaotic Badi Chaupar intersection. A few steps ahead, I see a pink building rise up to the sky, stop, step back, and lay my head in my neck. Arched roofs, dozens of elegant casements topped by brass spires, clinging to the massive building, hundreds of small windows in yellow, blue, green, and red, decorative lines in white: I am looking at a masterwork the likes I have never seen before. This is Hawa Mahal, or Palace of Breeze, designed by Lal Chand Ustad in 1799. I walk back and forth, cross the Siredeori Bazaar street and back, stand close to the building, to see it from all angles. When I have had enough, it is time to walk around the block, and find the entrance on the west side of the building.
After passing through several doors, I reach a courtyard with a fountain. It has several quarters, a little museum, but more importantly: a view of the Hawa Mahal which looks different from this side. I climb the stairs to the roof of the building here, which offers the best view of the courtyard, and the top floors of the Palace of Breeze right ahead. On the west side, the palace is mostly light yellow, with the two top floors the same pink as the façade I have just seen. Where the façade I have seen from Siredeori Bazaar looks like a massive building, it turns out it is really the backside of the palace, and the three top floors are only one room deep. They top this side of the Palace of Breeze like the crown on the head of a maharajah. Hawa Mahal looks much more delicate from this side. It is time to walk where once the royal ladies walked to observe the outside world.
Walking through this floor, with its casements, the colourful, small windows - there seem to be no less than 953 in the building, but I didn't count them myself. Instead of stairs, there are only ramps, so the ladies could be carried up in their palanquins. I am not a royal lady and have to walk using my own legs. There are small courtyards from which I get a view from below of the turret-like structure of the top of Hawa Mahal. Walking up the next ramps, I come to Vichitra Mandir, Prakash Mandir and Hawa Mandir, the top three floors. Here, you feel why this is called the Palace of Breeze: a constant draught runs through the windows, cooling off my sweaty spine and forehead. A narrow staircase brings me to the Hawa Mandir, the top floor. Through the small windows, I can see the bustle of the street below. Turning around. I see the rest of Hawa Mahal below me, the Royal Palace, Jantar Mantar with its curious buildings, the spread out city of Jaipur, and the mountain range with the Nahargarh fort on top of it. More than 200 years old, Hawa Mahal still offers the best views over the city.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Hawa Mahal (India). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Hawa Mahal. Read more about this site.