The Hawa Mahal, Jaipur's Palace of the Winds
The Hawa Mahal - which means "palace of the winds" - maybe be Jaipur's signature building. Almost any travel brochure that includes a stop in Jaipur has the image of the Hawa Mahal on its pages. Built in 1799 by Sawai Singh, it was intended as a safe refuge for the court women to view the outside world without themselves being seen. It's a common thread in much of the Mughal construction of the time, a wall with many small openings that allows an easy peek outside, while blocking the view from the street down below. Basically, the front wall of the Hawa Mahal is a perforated screen made of intricate stone work.
The Palace is some five stories high, and in reality, it's just a wall....not so much a building or palace. It wasn't meant to be living space, it's more of a viewing platform.
One interesting thing with regard the the screen design of the façade.... in addition to limiting the view from below, it also offered an 18 - 19th century version of airconditioning. Servants would throw water onto the screen so that the breeze passing through the lattice work would be cooled and thereby more comfortable. From what I've experienced of October in Rajasthan, ANY attempt to cool the breeze is a good idea.
We did not visit the inside of the Hawa Mahal... as I say, it's more a viewing platform than anything else. If you do choose to visit, entry is 5 Rs. Taking in a camera will cost you an additional 30 Rs, and a video camera fee is 70 Rs. HONESTLY, I can't imagine what, of any great interest, you'd be able to video from inside the palace. The better view is to be had for free from across the street. :) I set up to take a few photos of the Palace of the Winds from across the street. Being India and Jaipur being a large city, there was a LOT of traffic. I began to think I'd never squeeze off a photo without the backside of a lorrie in the corner of the shot. But all of a sudden and like magic, I had a few seconds of peace. You see the result of this pause down below. :)