Hawa Mahal

This is without doubt Jaipur's best-known monument. It was built in 1799 by Sawai Pratap Singh and designed by Lalchand Usta. If you view it from a distance, it looks like a palace with the promise of big, spacious rooms inside. But on closer inspection, you realise that it is little more than a finely chiselled facade. Out of its five floors, the top three are just a room deep while the lower floors are connected to rooms and courtyards. The Hawa Mahal is an enormous tapering structure with numerous arches, spires and a mind-boggling 953 latticed casements and small windows.

It was designed for a single purpose, to allow the women of the royal harem to watch processions that passed through the streets of jaipur and also people in the city going about their daily business. Sitting in the cool, airy interior of the Hawa Mahal, they could watch the goings-on below while they themselves remained hidden. Underground tunnels connected the palace to the harem. The maharaja also often came here to compose devotional songs to lord Krishna in the relative seclusion of the place. Despite the popular belief that the building was made as a viewing gallery, it is said that Sawai Pratap Singh, a poet and a devotee of the Hindu deities Radha and Krishna, had it designed like a mukut, a crown and dedicated the monument to lord Krishna.

There is a small archaeological museum on the same site, with exhibits dating back several centuries. Come back on Tripolia Bazar and keep going straight. The intersection up ahead, named Badi Chaupad, is the second important square after the Choti Chaupad.

Hawa Mahal