Saturday, July 26, 2014

Travel: HAWA MAHAL IS SIMPLY AMAZING

Hawa Mahal
From Birla Temple, the rickshawwala drove me to the old city of Jaipur known as Pink City which is where you will find Hawa Mahal.

In the compound; ticket counter is ahead on the right
As the name suggests, the palace had been constructed especially for the Queens of yonder to receive maximum breeze. Read on to find out how and why.

Entrance to the palace
I walked through the arched entrance to the ticket counter and paid Rs. 20 as entrance fees. I asked the guy at the counter if it was possible to get a guide. He said that I could at a charge of Rs. 100 for a tour that will last a bit more than half an hour.

The Royal Bath
I went in along with the guide who could speak comfortably in both Hindi and English. He insisted he knew French too. But since I don’t understand a word, I told him to stick to Hinglish. We entered an open courtyard with a large square tank with fountains. They kept switching on the fountains every five minutes or so. I believe the tank was used as a bath by the king and his queens.

The ramp that goes all the way up to the fifth floor
Hawa Mahal was built by Raja Sawai Pratap Singh in 1799. It has no less than 953 windows along the five-storey structure. For a minute there, I had a minor heart attack that I had committed myself to climb five floors as the staircase to the first level was quite steep. But lucky ole’ me! The way up was a ribbed ramp that could carry the Queens on a wheelchair all the way up. Poor slave women of those days!

The closed window looking out into the marketplace
The queens’ clothes used to weigh about 9 kg with jewelled embellishments. Over that, they used to wear a minimum of 6 kg jewellery. This totalled to about 15 kg making it impossible for them to walk around. On some days, the clothes and jewellery used to weigh up to 40 kg (eye-popping) - hence the wheelchairs and ramp.

Yours truly
The windows are built in such a fashion that it was convenient for the royal women to look out into the marketplace - it’s also a busy market today - while it is not possible for people to look within.

Along the ramp - the air changes temperature as it enters
Small rectangular holes are cut into the windows along the ramp. These are shaped in such a fashion that the outside rectangle is small while the inside one is large. The air passing through changes temperature. It gets cooled in summer while gets a chance to warm up during winters. Ingenious!

One of the upper floors
The Hawa Mahal is built of limestone, incorporating both Hindu & Mughal architecture as was the norm in those days. It's painted the same colour as the Pink City. It has been designed in the form of Lord Krishna’s crown or so says Wikipedia. It does look like a crown.

View from the top
I walked up to the fifth level. This is known as Chandni Chowk. Yeah, the forerunner to the many Chandni Chowks of North India. On Poornima (full-moon) nights, live musicals and dance programmes were held in this open space. The king used to party along with his queens in a true royal fashion.

Chandni Chowk - this is where the musicians played for the royalty
I climbed the last narrow batch of stairs to get to the topmost level to get a panoramic view of the city. It was amazing. I also got a couple of clicks. I will not say much about climbing down those stairs - just a dozen of them - it was hair-raising to say the least as my eyesight is not the best. But I am glad I made the full trip.

A view of Chandni Chowk on the fifth floor from above
They had an environmental friendly way of keeping termite away those days. A mixed paste of yoghurt and fenugreek seeds was applied to the walls. This kept all insects away. I was zapped!

This the balcony from which people could watch the live programmes below in Chandni Chowk
We came down the same ramp but got out of another door to the left of the fountain. When I gave the guide Rs. 100, he told me that I owed him Rs. 200. Huh! Lucky for me I had checked at the ticket counter in advance. I told him just that and gave him exactly Rs. 100.

A view of the old city
Loved the trip to the breezy Hawa Mahal!



2 comments:

  1. Lovely virtual tour. I am glad you made the full tour. Thanks, I now know what I missed ;)

    ReplyDelete