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The Hawa Mahal or Palace of the Winds was built in 1799 by Sawai Pratap Singh for the ladies of the royal household to look out to the outside world without breaking purdah. It is actually a facade consisting of five tiers made up of arches, balconies, and perforated screens or jalis set into the palace walls along Jaipur's main street. Pratap Singh was a devotee of Krishna and dedicated the Hawa Mahal to him. In her book "A Princess Remembers: The Memoirs of the Maharini of Jaipur", Gayatri Devi describes her first visit to the Hawa Mahal-circa 1940.
The Hawa Mahal provides a striking view of the city of Jaipur. The building was certainly was not meant for residential purposes. It lacks in ornamentation on the inner side of the building. The chambers are plain and more mass of pillars and passages leading to the top story. It does not seem to be part of the same building. It was probably conceived with the aim of enabling ladies of the royal household to watch the everyday life and royal processions in the city without being seen by others. It was built at a time when royal ladies observed very strict purdah system.
The palace, with its screened balconies, provided the ladies of the zenana (royal household) an opportunity to watch processions and other activities on the streets below without being observed themselves. The openings here are almost like peepholes, partially block by fine latticework in lime plaster, and some with plain wooden windows. The royal ladies not only enjoyed the view but also did so in great comfort and style The facade of the Hawa Mahal looks more like a delicate screen than a palace from the roadside. It is a five-storeyed, pyramid-shaped structure. It is made up of tiers one over another with 953 small casements.
Each casement had a tiny lattice worked (Jali) pink windows, small balconies and curved roofs with hanging cornices. They were delicately sculptured and carved. These small windows circulate cool air even during hot months. The pyramidal outline is even throughout by cramming and multiplying casements and the use of repetition of motifs is done to enhance its beauty. The building is 50 ft high and a foot in thickness. There are over 900 niches in the structure with semi-octagonal alcoves, carved sandstone grills, finials and domes.
The Hawa Mahal stands true to its name. As one climbs up to the balconies, he is almost swept away by the cool breeze. There is a small archeological museum here to provide a glimpse of art and craft of Rajasthan. Hawa Mahal, which is currently under the supervision of the State Archeological Department, provides the visitor with excellent views of the city. The best time to view Hawa Mahal is sunrise when sunlight through the latticed windows gives it a wonderful glow. The entrance to Hawa Mahal is from the City Palace. An imposing door opens into a spacious courtyard, which has a double storeyed building on three sides. The eastern wing has three more storeys above, which has thickness of just a single room. The building stands over a high podium. There is a lack of regular stairs to reach the upper floors, but have only ramps in order to facilitate the servants to carry the palanquins.
Jal Mahal is an 18th century pleasure palace and is located in Jaipur, the capital city of Rajasthan. The palace is perched amidst Mansagar lake, which is in turn nestled amongst the Nahargarh hills. The Jal Mahal Palace, Jaipur is noted for its sophisticated design and grand architecture. The Palace was developed as a pleasure spot and was used for the royal duck shooting parties. A causeway leads to Jal Mahal Palace situated in the middle of Man Sagar lake, opposite the cenotaphs. The first four floors of this building is under water, only the top floor remains outside. One can have a wonderful view of the lake and the palace from Nahargarh Fort Built in 1799, the palace is now abandoned, but reasonably well preserved. The lake eco system is home to a variety of migratory and resident birds. The Mansagar Dam on the eastern side of the lake acts as a vantage point for viewing the lake and the valley.
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