The pink hues of hawa mahal’s facade brings many thoughts into the mind – the simple and elegant beauty of the palaces of Rajasthan, Jaipur’s fetish with the deep reddish hues carefully preserved over a century, the confined lives of women in the palaces and mostly – the ultimate symbol of Rajasthan Tourism. On my first visit to Rajasthan, Hawa Mahal was in the beginning phase of a long lasting renovation, taking its time as any government project would. About four years later, on my second visit a month ago, the process was finally complete. It was the right time to be there, before the paint faded, before coloured glasses lost its sheen, before its fountain left to die and before the vandals arrived to scribble the details of their love life. The insides of the Hawa Mahal were gleaming with fresh paint, coloured glass (or are they stained glasses? there is no easy way to find out) and spotless interiors – as if the Maharaja had just gifted the palace of winds to the members of his harem.
We loved it, and almost refused to leave. A spree of photography lasted for four hours. We left, only to allow some time for other charms of Jaipur’s old city, but haven’t had enough of the Mahal yet. Here is a compilation of images made in and around Hawa Mahal in this brief period. But Hawa Mahal deserved more time; and more, better, beautiful images.
The typical image of Hawa Mahal in tourist brochures shows it standing alone and isolated, as if it is located in a pristine undisturbed location, waiting for you to discover it. Far from so, it is right next a busy road. A national highway to be precise. In fact, the whole idea of building Hawa Mahal was to let the royal women a glimpse into the outside world, the city’s busy life, and processions during the festival. And it is this reason, that the windows of Hawa Mahal face a busy street but the entry to it is from the other side. It is a relatively lackluster entrance that doesn’t give clues to all the glory that the palace possesses.
The facade of famous Hawa Mahal – the palace of winds
A closer look at the facade.
One of the colourful windows of Hawa Mahal that are spread over five stories. The colours of the glass are not apparent here; see the images from inside Hawa Mahal below.
Life goes on the street in front of Hawa Mahal, not stopping by to admire the beauty of the palace that is an everyday affair for the people of Jaipur.
Life goes on in front of Hawa Mahal, on the busy National Highway 8.
A shop selling wares for tourists near Hawa Mahal.
At the quiet and peaceful alleys behind Hawa Mahal.
The relatively lackluster entrance to go inside Hawa Mahal is on the side opposite to its colourful facade. On entering, the inside appears ordinary at first, until you go past a few doors.
The arches and the galleries inside Hawa Mahal are as charming as its facade is.
The fountains add to the glory of the building. The morning of our visit to Hawa Mahal, we had seen a photograph in the newspaper showing the springing fountains. But to our disappointment, they were turned off when we arrived. As luck would have it, someone turned it on just for a minute, barely long enough for me take this picture.
I almost missed this hall with colourful glass windows, located on one side of the entrance. It would have been a great loss, not seeing this.
Play of light on the ramp leading up.
The galleries on the upper floors.
The insides of Hawa Mahal, seen from the first and second floor galleries.