Hawa Mahal

Hawa Mahal (Hindi: हवा महल, translation: "Palace of Winds" or “Palace of the Breeze”), is a palace in Jaipur, India. It was built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh, and designed by Lal Chand Usta in the form of the crown of Krishna, the Hindu god. Its unique five-story exterior is also akin to the honeycomb of the beehive with its 953 small windows called jharokhas that are decorated with intricate lattice work.[1] The original intention of the lattice was to allow royal ladies to observe everyday life in the street below without being seen, since they had to observe strict "purdah" (face cover).Built of red and pink sandstone, the palace is situated on the main thoroughfare in the heart of Jaipur’s business centre. It forms part of the City Palace, and extends to the Zenana or women's chambers, the chambers of the harem. It is particularly striking when viewed early in the morning, lit with the golden light of sunrise.

History

Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh the ruler of Rajasthan of the Kachwaha clan, was the original planner and builder who built the Jaipur city in 1727. However, it was his grandson Sawai Pratap Singh, son of Maharaja Sawai Madhosingh I, who built the Hawa Mahal in 1799 as a continuation of the Royal City Palace. Pratap Singh's deep devotion to the Hindu god Lord Krishna is inferred to have prompted him to build it as a dedication, in the form of a Mukuta or headgear, adorning the Lord. Though no historical record is available to its exact history, it is conjectured that Royal family ladies, who were under strict observance of purdah (the practice of preventing women from being seen by men), had to be given opportunity to witness proceedings in the market centre and watch the royal processions and festivities sitting behind the stone carved screens. Hawa Mahal did just that in style, amidst its luxurious comforts and behind strict screened exclusivity, unseen by outsiders.Royal family of Jaipur, during their reign, also used the Mahal as a hot weather retreat, during the suffocating summer season, for several years, since the unusually designed window screens provided the needed cool breeze.

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