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Jaipur, Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds)

Jaipur, Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds)

 

Jaipur is the capital and largest city of the Indian state of Rajasthan in Northern India. It was founded on 18 November 1727 by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, the ruler of Amber, after whom the city is named. The city today has a population of 3.1 million. Jaipur is known as the Pink City of India.

 

The city is unusual among pre-modern Indian cities in the regularity of its streets, and the division of the city into six sectors by broad streets 34 m wide. The urban quarters are further divided by networks of gridded streets. Five quarters wrap around the east, south, and west sides of a central palace quarter, with a sixth quarter immediately to the east. The Palace quarter encloses the Hawa Mahal palace complex, formal gardens, and a small lake. Nahargarh Fort, which was the residence of the King Sawai Jai Singh II, crowns the hill in the northwest corner of the old city. The observatory, Jantar Mantar, is one of the World Heritage Sites. Included on the Golden Triangle tourist circuit, along with Delhi and Agra, Jaipur is an extremely popular tourist destination in Rajasthan and India.

 

Hawa Mahal (translated as "Palace of Winds" or "Palace of the Breeze"), is a palace in Jaipur, so named because it was essentially a high screen wall built so the women of the royal household could observe street festivals while unseen from the outside. Constructed of red and pink sandstone, the palace sits on the edge of the City Palace, and extends to the zenana, or women's chambers.

 

The palace is a five-storey pyramidal shaped monument that rises 15 m from its high base. The top three floors of the structure have a dimension of one room width while the first and second floors have patios in front of them. The front elevation, as seen from the street, is like a honeycomb web of a beehive, built with small portholes. Each porthole has miniature windows and carved sandstone grills, finials and domes. It gives the appearance of a mass of semi-octagonal bays, giving the monument its unique façade. The inner face on the back side of the building consists of need-based chambers built with pillars and corridors with minimal ornamentation, and reach up to the top floor.

 

Lal Chand Ustad was the architect of this unique structure. Built in red and pink coloured sand stone, in keeping with the décor of the other monuments in the city, its colour is a full testimony to the epithet of "Pink City" given to Jaipur. Its façade depicts 953 niches with intricately carved jharokhas (some are made of wood) is a stark contrast to the plain looking rear side of the structure. Its cultural and architectural heritage is a true reflection of a fusion of Hindu Rajput architecture and the Islamic Mughal architecture; the Rajput style is seen in the form of domed canopies, fluted pillars, lotus and floral patterns, and the Islamic style as evident in its stone inlay filigree work and arches.

 

(sources: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaipur and en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawa_Mahal)

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Taken on December 16, 2008