“Yehmahal raniyon ke liye banaya gaya tha”- the local man guiding us told that and we can feel the pride in his voice. Yes, again we are on our way to another famous destination in Rajasthan- the HawaMahal. Jaipur- the modern capital of the Indian state Rajasthan is commonly known as Pink City and HawaMahal is situated in the heart of the city.
The first picture that comes to our mind when we heard about Rajasthan is of kings and palaces. This is the land of kings and royal palaces, the land of wars and heroism. The Maharajas of this place are famous for their courage and chivalry. The most common picture of a king here is with his arms ready to fight with his enemies. But here, we witnessed the story of a poet-king SwaiPratap Singh. SwaiPratap Singh was the grandson of Maharaja Swai Jai Singh who established the city Jaipur.
HawaMahal- the palace of winds was built by SwaiPratap Singh in the year 1799. In fact, HawaMahal was a continuation of the Royal City Palace. It was built on the edge of the City Palace at the heart of the city. The first question that came to my mind was why this palace is specially built for the queens. I asked the same to our guide and the answer from him increased my respect to SwaiPratap Singh. During that period, Rajput women, including the royal ladies, had to obey a strict Purdah system. A Purdah system prevents a woman from going out or see outsiders specially men. Being a woman, I can feel the misery. The royal women of that period were unable to see the daily life outside their palace rooms; even they couldn’t see colorful royal processions in the street. In one word, they missed all the fun out there.
But the fact here was something different. Purdah at that time was a common fact. What uncommon was a king felt those sufferings which were created only for his queens. The poet-king SwaiPratap Singh not only built this palace for the royal women he also took care of their comfort here. From here Royal ladies could view the day-to-day life of the city while unseen from the public outside on the street. It is also a Palace which is airy even in hot summer days. Most of the Rajput kings in that era were unaware of their queens’ sufferings. Standing at that time it was a revolutionary work of the Poet king to give a change to his queens to view the outside life.
The architecture of HawaMahal needs a special mention. Lal Chand Ustad was the architect of this famous structure and it was inspired by the fusion of Hindu Rajput architecture and Islamic Mughal architecture.
The outer view of the palace depicted the devotion of SwaiPratap Singh to Lord Krishna. The Place was built in the form of the crown of Lord Krishna. HawaMahal is a five storied Palace designed as a honeycomb with small windows; locally known as Jharokhas. The Palace is 50 feet high. The top three floors of HawaMahal is of the dimension of a single room; whereas, the first two floors have courtyards in front of them. The front portion of the palace which is visible from outside is of the structure of a beehive with small apertures. Each aperture has small windows and lattices, finials and roofs made of pink and red sandstone. The main purpose of those lattices was to give royal ladies a chance to observe the daily life in the street while keeping them unseen to the public. The framework also allows cool air from the Venturi effect to pass through the complex design creating an air conditioning effect to the whole area during the hot and humid summer days.
I also felt the same way. The inside was airy. I imagined what a sense of architecture in a time when there was no concept of the air cooling machines.
After visiting the Palace, we came out and saw the vast pink city stretched in front of us. What a view!
Really, I salute Maharaja SwaiPratap Singh for respecting the wish of the women and offering us one of the greatest palaces of India-the second most popular tourist spot in the country at present.