Hawa Mahal: Jaipur’s Gilded Cage For Women

Hawa Mahal, the palace with the distinctive rosy color, standing five-stories high in Jaipur, India.
Hawa Mahal, the palace with the distinctive rosy color, standing five-stories high in Jaipur, India.

Hawa Mahal, meaning the “Palace of the Winds,” is one of the major attractions in Jaipur, India, and one of the finest examples of Rajput architecture in the country. Jaipur’s sandstone palace was built in 1799 by the Kachwaha ruler of Jaipur Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh as an extension to the Royal City Palace.

Hawal Mahal, Jaipur
Hawa Mahal, in Jaipur, India, is known as the building whose construction allowed the women of the royal court to watch the bustle of the city, without being visible to the public.

The five-story building with the rich exterior decoration was designed in the shape of Lord Krishna’s crown by Lal Chand Ustad. Visitors can use ramps to reach the top floors of the building. The construction, featuring 953 small windows decorated with intricate designs, called “jharokhas,” was used as a summer retreat for many Rajput families in the past as its design allowed a pleasant breeze to rush through it during the warm Indian summer months.

Depiction of Lord Krishna, a major deity in Hinduism, and his famous crown from which Hawa Mahal took its design.
Depiction of Lord Krishna, a major deity in Hinduism, and his famous crown from which Hawa Mahal took its design.

The original intent of the building’s design was to allow the ladies of the royal court to observe the drama of the streets hidden behind the carefully-crafted window latticework since according to the strict rules of “purdah,” they were not allowed to appear in public without face coverings.

You can enter the Hawa Mahal through an impressive imperial door located at the back of the building. At the top of the palace, you can enjoy incredible views of Jaipur, in particular, Sireh Deori Bazaar, Jantar Mantar and the City Palace, while within the palace property you will find a small museum featuring various items, including ceremonial armor and miniature paintings.

Jantar Mantar in Jaipur, India, which you can see from the top of Hawa Mahal. It was constructed in 1724 consisting of 13 architectural astronomy instruments.
Jantar Mantar in Jaipur, India, which you can see from the top of Hawa Mahal. It was constructed in 1724 consisting of 13 architectural astronomy instruments.
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