Friday, 23 December 2011

Hawa Mahal: Palace of the Winds


If you’ve ever traveled to Jaipur, India, the façade in the city will most certainly catch your eye. The Palace of the Winds or Hawa Mahal stands on a high platform adjoining the city wall. The architecture is unique and intricate, and the palace itself resembles a honeycomb screen. The palace is five-stories high and is built of red and pink sandstone. The Palace of the Winds is lined with white borders and motifs that are painted in a lime wash.

There are close to 950 windows on the façade, each of them with a projecting balcony and crowning arched roof with a hanging cornice. The small windows have been compared to peepholes, which allow just enough breezes to enter the rooms behind them. The façade was designed to resemble a crown of mukut, worn by the god.

Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh created Hawa Mahal at a very interesting time in 1799, when females of the royal family observed very strict purdah. This meant that their faces were completely covered. It was built as an extension to the main palace, and it allowed the royal women to observe the goings on in the street.

The first three stories of the palace are actually one large, wide single room. The arched entrance to the west opens onto a exquisite courtyard surrounded by a two-story building, and on the eastern side, a fourth level rises like a stairway to the heavens. Ironically, there are no stairs, but ramps. The interior is simple and organic, unlike the ornate and fantastical architecture of the exterior. Evidently, it was created in this fashion to provide a resort like experience, instead of a comfortable residence.

The Palace of the Winds was dedicated to the Hindu deity Krishna, to whom Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh dedicated it.



Chris Stonecipher said...
9 February 2012 at 19:51  

This place is beautiful. If you study the arches in the entry way, it makes the buildings appear even taller. Nice work Lauren.

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