Palace of Winds

… also known as Jaipur’s Pink Palace…

We visited the Hawa Mahal, in English: Palace of Winds.  The photo above shows the façade that faces the main road.  It is believed that it was built so that the members of the Prince’s Harem could watch the comings and goings in the city.  The women of the Harem had to abide by the strict “purdah.”  They had to be covered at all times; men were not allowed to look on them.  By sitting behind the façade and looking through the lattice windows, they could satisfy their curiosity and remain socially chaste.  There are 953 windows and we were told that the first wife had her choice of window (probably the top center) and each wife selected her window based on seniority.  Mere concubines had to take whatever windows were left over.  I couldn’t help but think what it must be like to be in a Harem.  A woman might spend one night a year with her husband.  It seemed like a lonely life.

From the front the façade looks like a building, but it is only a few feet thick and was built only as a viewing area for the Prince’s harem.  It gives true meaning to the word façade.  The photo below is shot from the other side and shows the Palace in more detail.  The palace was built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh.

Carol and I worked our way through the palace and then ascended the stairs behind the pink façade.  As you can see in the photo, it is not very thick at all.  But, it did provide a grand view of the street below.  As some windows faced forward, and others to the right and left, you could also look to the right and see the large traffic circle (next photo).

Once we left the palace we went down into the traffic circle near the palace on our way to the shopping bazaars.  I saw this camel drawn cart and struggled to get a photo before he trotted away.  I see so many camels in India, something I never expected to see.

Later we toured Jaipur and went shopping in the bazaars.  Alley ways and streets for blocks and blocks are filled with very bright fabrics, many interwoven with silver, gold, and other decorations that made a feast of colors for the eyes.  We talked with many of the fabric sellers, shopped for sunglasses, post cards and other items.  You could easily spend a week trying to cover the entire market areas.

The entire old town is surrounded by a pink sandstone wall with magnificent gates at the main roads.  Later, I was so disappointed to see that terrorists had bombed this area in 2008.


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