Icon of Jaipur – Hawa Mahal

22.10.2017:

12.15 hrs – Time to visit the signature building of Jaipur – the b! Hawa Mahal is about 10 minutes walk from the Jantar Mantar. I preferred walking over a tuk-tuk since its the best way to explore a place 😉 I came across a Pol or gate which actually leads into the City Palace area. Jaipur is one such place which needs to be explored by walking around the surroundings to immerse ourselves in it’s architecture and culture. Hawa Mahal is surrounded by a cluster of buildings whose architecture is a blend of Mughal, Rajput and European styles. The market area here is also a fine one to hit at!

While nearing the Hawa Mahal I came across a street photographer whose name is Tikam Chand. His prized possession is a 1880’s Carl Zeiss Wooden Box camera with which he takes the old-fashioned black-and white portraits. Though he offered me one, I simply denied but requested him that I would like to peep through it’s viewfinder 🙂 and Tikam Chand happily agreed 🙂 Bidding a bye to Tikam Chand, I walked into a narrow pathway which leads to the ticket counter of Hawa Mahal. The entry ticket costs Rs. 50/- for Indians.

If Jaipur is synonymous to anything else, it is this unique piece of architecture – the Hawa Mahal or the Palace of Winds. It is a five-storied Palace built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh under the supervision of his able architect Lal Chand Ustad. The entry to this building is through AnandPol and there is another entry further called the ChandraPol which leads to a spacious courtyard in middle of which there is a water fountain without water :-0 surrounded on the three sides by two-storey buildings. In the courtyard, there is a also a souvenir shop selling various souvenirs and postcards and also Cafe Coffee Day for refreshments.

The Palace is constructed in red and pink sandstone and is in the form of the Hindu God Lord Krishna’s crown. Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh who is a great devotee of Lord Krishna had dedicated this Palace to him and worshipped him at the Vichitra Mandir.  There are no staircases available to reach the upper floors, but ramps connected all the various floors. It is said that the main motive behind having these ramps is to facilitate the movement of palanquins of the queens! What a royalty 🙂

There is something unusual about this palace. Firstly, there are no staircases which should be the common case in a five-storied building; secondly, though each floor is named uniquely as Sharad Mandir, Ratan Mandir, Hawa Mandir and so forth, we can’t literally see a mandir or Palace as such. The base two are courtyards, while the top three are just a single room thick. And the most important feature of this structure are the ‘Jharokhas’ or windows adorned with intricate designs. It is said that there are 953 such Jharokhas throughout the Palace.

There are two motives behind having these Jharokas or windows – one was to make the royal women enjoy freedom of watching the royal procession on the streets through these windows without being seen in public and the other is for the wind circulation throughout the palace. But in totality, the Hawa Mahal was built as an extension of the Royal City Palace to allow the women of the royal household to witeness the street festivities without being seen 😦

The Ratan Mandir is perhaps the only one which has got intricate glass work and to climb up to the Hawa Mandir which is the last floor of the palace, I had to wait for 10 minutes as there is no much space up there and I can enter only if someone gets down! From the top, we get a view of the neighboring Jantar Mantar and the bustling streets of Badi Choupar. The Palace is an excellent blend of Rajput and Mughal architectures. While the former style is palpable from the fluted pillars, floral patterns and domed canopies, the arches and stone inlay filigree work are manifestations of the latter style. The palace also has an archaeological museum.

The exit is through another dimly lit and long narrow passage. Passing through it, I almost felt that entering Hawa Mahal is far more easier than exiting it! 😀 Soon, I was on to the outer courtyard and I moved out through the other gateway which directly opens into the Market area!

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Excitement continues…

Day 3:

Neetha’s flight is at 7.00PM the same day where as mine was at 12.30 AM the following day. We have still lot of time for our respective flights. We quickly calculated the possibilities and decided that we will finish off our Delhi trip with a visit to Qutub Minar. We took a cab from CP to Qutub Minar, which is at a distance of some 15 kms from CP and as it was early in the morning and a Sunday, there wasn’t much traffic and we reached there in 45 mins.

There are two complexes situated opposite to each other; while one complex hosts the Qutub Minar, the other hosts the ticket counter and a baggage counter. It was too crowded and there were long queues in front of the counters. Neetha stood in one while I was in the other. Luckily I got our tickets in 10 mins and Neetha deposited her bag in the cloak room. We crossed the road and walked towards the Qutub Minar.

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I got the first glimpse of the monument just after we entered the complex and I could imagine how huge it could be when I near it. But we didn’t go to it first; instead we walked towards the many broken and ruined tombs and monuments in the complex. Though they were broken they carry lot of charisma and speak the rich history of India. Something caught our sight; it’s the Delhi Iron Pillar, which is a testimony to the high level of skill achieved by ancient Indian iron smiths in the extraction and processing of iron. Traditionally people believed that if anyone standing infront of the pillar with his/her back towards the column can encircle it with their arms, all his wishes will be fulfilled. But we don’t have a chance to do that as there is a fence around the pillar now 😦

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We walked around the ruins of the adjacent buildings and other monuments in the complex. There is a beautiful lush green lawn in the complex and we moved towards the famous Qutub Minar. I was fascinated at its sight. The tall minaret which is almost some 238 feet tall, having 379 steps is truly magnificent. It is perhaps a great masterpiece of the Mughal architecture. The monument is made up of sandstone and the verses from the holy Quran are carved on its walls. The calligraphy is so fine and every detail on the monument is so vivid. There are also few other tombs and mosques around the minaret.

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We headed back to our room and packed our bags. We headed to the Dwarka Metro station and the ride was yet another exciting experience. It is an electronic motor vehicle which we took for our ride to the station. The ride in the electronic gaadi and the pleasant weather on the near empty roads was a good experience 🙂 😉 , which we enjoyed thoroughly. While Neetha headed to the airport to catch her flight, I rushed to yet another amazing construction of the modern era, the “AksharDham”.

By the time I reached the temple complex, there were long queues in which people were waiting to deposit their luggage and electronic goods which they are carrying along with them. It took me around an hour to deposit my own luggage and get cleared by the security. The temple which is also known as the Swaminarayan Akshardham is a Hindu temple and a spiritual cultural complex. The temple complex is truly a feast for the eyes watching it. The walls are intricately carved with flora, fauna, dancers, musicians and deities.

The construction is of sandstone and marble and has many carved pillars, domes and idols of various sages, devotees and spiritual leaders. Under the temple’s central dome lies the idol of Swaminarayana to whom the temple is dedicated. Also there are the idols of Sita Rama, Radha Krishna, Shiv Parvati and Lakshmi Narayana. Photography is strictly prohibited in the temple complex, however they themselves provide a photographer if you want to take some photographs. The complex also has a store which sells souvenirs, books and other articles and also has a food court.

There happens a musical fountain show every evening, but as I don’t have that much of time, I couldn’t watch it this time. It took me more than two hours to see the entire complex and didn’t wait for a long time to collect my baggage 🙂 🙂 ; took a cab to the airport and waited long enough to board.

On board…. 😉 Trivandrum, here I come 🙂 😛