The Palace of the Wind, the name itself gives you goose pimples, let’s your imagination run wild. A huge, airy palace, with royal princes and princesses strolling around, their loose silky dresses tousled by the wind. The Hawa Mahal was none of this, it is not even a building proper. It is a façade, a most stunning one though.
The ladies of the royal family would snug into one of the many niches and leisurely watch Jaipur’s famous processions shielded from the outside world, without being seen by the masses. They just needed to stroll over from the royal palace right behind it.
The structure is most delicate, and the reddish stone adds to its exquisiteness. Like so many buildings in Rajasthan, it was influenced by different cultures, eager to represent the different religions of India…
The Hawa Mahal is in the heart of Jaipur’s Pink City, the old part of town. This name most obviously derives from the pinkish colored stone. The order to use only this stone for buildings in the city center came from the Maharaja himself, in 1876. It was his idea of providing a particular warm welcome to the visiting Prince Albert and Queen Elisabeth II.
Also the current Maharaja Padmanabh Singh resides in the City Palace, built by his ancestors two hundred years ago. His pedigree is impressive. It goes back to the year 944 AD! Some things do change though, large parts of the City Palace are now accessible to the public and that’s how we got to see it. Two large courtyards with airy pavilions in the middle form the centerpiece.
Most interesting was the museum displaying old armory, purely for its craftsmanship. The strangest exhibits sit in one the pavilions: two gigantic silver jars, each holding 4000 liters. Their purpose? The maharaja would not travel to Great Britain for the coronation of King Edward VII without taking holy water from the Ganges. For his trip in 1902, he had the jars made from pure silver and filled with the sacred liquid. Nowadays the family is a lot more worldly and extremely enterprising. It has turned quite a few palaces into 5 star hotels and the City Place into a tourist attraction.
With the setting sun enhancing the color on renovated or crumbling grandeur, the Pink City becomes a photographer’s paradise, ours!