Close your eyes and imagine for a moment feelings of the cool breeze against your skin as the sun bathes you with warmth. You can hear the chiming of bells dancing in your ears while listening to the laughter of others around you. The earthiness of turmeric and black pepper begin to blend with the freshness of cardamom as it dances with the aromas of sweet and spicy cinnamon being carried in by the breeze. You breathe deeply and exhale with the thoughts of never wanting to leave this moment. That this moment should be frozen in time and experienced by others as the years pass by.
You open your eyes and remember that this is a reality. One that can be and has been shared by all throughout the ages. The glorious Palace of the Winds will always welcome you through her doors with open arms and graciously make you fall in love with her colorful spirit, charm, and rich history she has to offer.
Located in the heart of Jaipur, the architecture of this amazing structure is by far, one of my favorites. It has 953 tiny windows all decorated with intricate latticework. Inside there are beautiful colors shining with the sun from the several stained glass windows. I cannot say if these have been recently added or were a part of the original structure built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh, however, they are lovely nonetheless.
The Royal women of Jaipur in these times were not allowed to associate with or appear in the public so they used these 953 windows, referred to as “jharokhas” to peer through and view the daily activities or festivals happening in the streets. This is something I could not imagine as I am so eager to always be right in the heart of it all. I must say these women were extremely dedicated and strong individuals, and I’m sure some of you may wonder, “Well, why didn’t they just go out?” But unfortunately, during this time in history, it just wasn’t safe for them.
Lal Chand Usta was the architect who designed this outstanding structure. Built from red and pink colored sandstone, the edifice stands 50 feet. Many may not know this, but the exterior of Hawa Mahal represents the crown of Lord Krishna, and is stacked in a peacock feather design.
It was given the name Hawa Mahal, meaning Palace of the Winds, due to wind always coming in through the tiny windows keeping it cool during the extreme heat of the summer. To be such an incredibly large structure, can you believe that the walls are less than a foot thick? Pretty darn impressive, if you ask me!
The price to tour Hawa Mahal is reasonably priced at ₹50 ($0.75) for foreigners, ₹25 ($0.38) if you happen to be a foreign student, ₹10 ($0.15) for natives, and ₹5 ($0.08) for native students.
Once you step foot inside it is like time freezes for a mere second as you gaze up the 5 story premises. Balconies and patios fill each floor and I couldn’t help but sit and think about life here so long ago. The many footsteps of the people rushing about trying to get a good spot at one of the tiny windows in time to see the people gathering below in the street. I say rushing, but in all honesty, the clothing that the women wore sometimes weighed quite a bit.
The royal women were always dressed to impress their Raja (King) wearing their finest gowns and draped in exquisite jewelry embellished with dazzling gemstones. The views are incredible once you reach the top, and you can see the city for miles off in the distance. Mountains seem to almost surround the city, and you can also look down on the same streets the Royal woman of Jaipur used to view 200 years ago.
Another great aspect about this place is being right in the heart of the shopping district!! There are so many unique stalls offering soft silks, fine jewelry, crystals, hand-made clothing, and other random goodies! I had such a great time haggling my way to some unbeatable prices on my finds, and I’m telling you don’t be shy, and don’t pay the price given!!
Some of the shop owners shared with me about how they have their “Tourist Prices” and then their “Indian Prices”. So please know you are most likely to be charged a higher price if you don’t bargain! The shopkeepers are used to it, so don’t be afraid that no one has ever done it before or that you’ll be asked to leave. It’s all a part of the grand experience. 🙂