After yet more strife with taxi drivers in Delhi, I was happy to finally get down to Jaipur and see the Pink City’s famous “Palace of the Wind”!
The first time I visited northern India, I concentrated on Delhi and Agra. I was very happy with this decision, as I got to experience the Indian capital city, as well as crossing off the Taj Mahal from my bucket list. Although Jaipur was on my radar, it just didn’t seen enticing enough for me as a solo traveller, so I always pushed it to one side of my itinerary. However, on my second visit to Delhi, I decided that I wouldn’t spend long in the capital and instead spend a few days (yep, just 3 nights, I’m afraid) in Jaipur – what they call “The Pink City”. It was great to finally be here, and there were a handful of big sights in the city that I wanted to visit in my short time in the city.
Unfortunately for me, my visit to Jaipur coincided with a bit of depression I was feeling at the time, and as such I was not able to enjoy the experience as much as I wanted to – and regardless of how hard I tried. Yet again, when landing in Delhi and taking a public taxi into town, I was conned by the taxi driver. This is the second time it has happened to me, only this time I was dropped off in the middle of the road because I didn’t have the cash to pay the driver extra money (I paid for his fare at the airport before I got in the taxi). With it getting dark, and with a backpack or two in tow, I began to panic, and without knowing much Hindi, I was unlikely to get any help from the locals, even if they had wanted to help me! Of course, I don’t mind walking around solo, but not in the dark (and certainly not in India!). In the end, I managed to get to my budget hotel shortly before 11pm, after a few hours walking the streets of Delhi on my own. I still to this day don’t know how I managed it, but at least I did it safely, even if I was still trembling like a leaf the next morning! Never again, am I going to get a taxi in Delhi.
So after 2 nights in Delhi (including going back to Chandni Chowk for some street food), I made my way to Jaipur, hoping that a change of scene – and a change of luck!
Hawa Mahal (sometimes known as “The Palace of the Wind”) is a palace in Jaipur, India. Constructed of red and pink sandstone, the palace sits on the edge of the City Palace. I’m not sure if this, or the Amber Fort, is the city’s top tourist attraction, but luckily for me on the day I visited just after the 9am opening it seemed to be fairly quiet. This was a “must see” for me, not just in Jaipur, but when you put together the top sights from all over India, then Hawa Mahal must easily be in the top 10 (although the Amber Fort would probably be top 5 for me). Entrance fee to Hawa Mahal is 50 Rupees for a “foreigner” – 5 times more expensive than for an Indian citizen!
The 18th century Hawa Mahal forms a unique five-storey exterior which is pretty similar to the honeycomb of a beehive. I knew beforehand that there were 953 small windows called jharokhas decorated with intricate latticework around the exterior (but I didn’t count them all, so I cannot verify!). The original intention of this latticework was to allow royal ladies to observe everyday life in the street below without being seen, since they had to obey strict “purdah” (face cover). The lattice also allows cool air through the intricate pattern, which effectively air conditions the whole area during the high summer temperatures.
The palace is an extended part of a huge complex. The stone-carved screens, small casements and arched roofs are some of the features of this popular tourist spot. The monument also has delicately modelled hanging cornices. Just like the other monuments of Jaipur, the palace is also constructed in pink and red coloured stone. Upon arriving at the entrance, I couldn’t help but marvel at its appearance. I spent a long time there just taking some photos, and getting the obligatory selfies, before heading on inside for more exploration. Entry to the Hawa Mahal is not from the front but from a side road to the rear end. Facing the Hawa Mahal, turning right and again to the first right, leads to an archway entry and then to the rear side of the building.
The palace is a five-storey pyramidal shaped monument that rises 50 feet (15 m) from its high base. The inner face on the back side of the building consists of chambers built with pillars and corridors with minimal ornamentation, and reach up to the top floor. The interior of the Hawa Mahal has rooms of different coloured marbles, relieved by inlaid panels or gilding, while fountains adorn the centre of the courtyard. However, it is not always possible to see many rooms inside the palace.
This unique structure was built in red and pink coloured sand stone, in keeping with the décor of the other monuments in the city, its colour is a full testimony to the epithet of “Pink City” given to Jaipur. Its façade depicts 953 niches with intricately carved jharokhas (some are made of wood) is in stark contrast to the plain looking rear side of the structure. Its cultural and architectural heritage is a true reflection of a fusion of Hindu and the Islamic Mughal architecture; the Hindu style is seen in the form of domed canopies and fluted pillars, as well as the lotus and floral patterns, whereas the Islamic style as evident in its stone inlay filigree work and brutal arches.
The Hawa Mahal palace is located to the south of the city of Jaipur, at the main road intersection called the Badi Chaupad (big four square). It was pretty easy getting there by motorised tuktuk, and I even saw tourists being transported by camels down the road too! Jaipur Railway Station is the location to make a beeline out of the city, and most people head back up to Delhi, just like I did. It was a great 3 days in Jaipur, and taking a little look inside “The Palace of the Wind” here at Hawa Mahal was a big highlight!
Along with the Amber Fort, Jantar Mantar, and Galwar Bagh, Hawa Mahal should definitely be on your itinerary when you come to the Pink City!