Hawa Mahal, Palace of the Winds of Jaipur, India
Among all the monuments of Jaipur, there is one with the necessary magnetism to attract all eyes. It is the Hawa Mahal or Palace of the Winds, whose only name already foreshadows the secrets and legends that enclose its walls.
Jaipur, the capital of the State of Rajasthan, is known as “the pink city” because of the color of the sandstone with which some of the buildings of the old walled city were built. The Palace of the Winds was developed by the Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh in the year 1799. It was then part of the city palace and served as an extension of the zenana or women’s chamber, destined for the harem. It is said that its designer, Lal Chand Usta, who made the two upper floors a little narrower to obtain an exquisite pyramidal appearance, what he really wanted was to put the majestic structure the shape of the crown of the god Krishna. However, the outsider structure of the palace resembles the tail of a peacock, an animal of great symbolism in India.
With its five stories high, Hawa Mahal is not surrounded by gardens, as is usual in Indian palaces, but looks out over the main street of the ancient city, showing in its entire splendor the Rajput art. Impossible not to stop before its almost thousand small semi-octagonal windows, deliciously carved in pink and red sandstone with calcium oxide inlays, which were built so that women could see, through them and without being seen, the tireless sway of the people of the city. A human tide that has not stopped moving for centuries, wrapped in rich turbans, black braids and beautiful fabrics dotted with the sight of a camel or the tired and somewhat erratic step of the asses.
Many people Hawa Mahal reminds them of a giant honeycomb, in which the windows look like their cells. However, the building owes its name to the wind that circulated through them, a form of cooling that allowed the enclosure to remain cool even in summer.
If you go to visit the Palace of the Winds, you will find a different building depending on the moment you approach it. In the early morning, the shy sunlight embellishes the building even more. But if you go at sunset, you will see how the color changes as the hue of the sky changes. There are no stairs leading to the upper floors, which are accessed by ramps. Although today the palace retains little more than the facade, from up there one feels that the city is at his feet. The same sensation that the women of the harem had in their day, who found behind the walls the necessary freedom to observe life and, for a few minutes, feel an integral part of it.