This floating castle appears to be from an enchanted fable, but in actuality it is Europe's best preserved Renaissance water castle.
Built of red and pink sandstone, the Hawa Mahal is an architectural and cultural gem of Jaipur, India. Built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh, the structure sits on the edge of the City Palace and acts as the ceremonial and administrative seat in Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan.
In English, Hawa Mahal translates to “The Palace of Winds”. Designed by architect Lal Chand Ustad, the unique five-story palace resembles the honeycomb of a beehive and contains 953 small windows called Jharokhas. Decorated with intricate lattice work, these windows allow cool air to pass through, making the area more pleasant during the high temperatures in summer.
The Jharokha’s lattice work was originally intended to allow royal ladies to observe everyday life and festivals in the streets below without being seen. These women had to observe the firm rules of purdah, a Hindu religious and social practice, which forbade them from appearing in public without face coverings.
Hawa Mahal was also known as the chef-d’uvre, or masterpiece, of Maharaja Jai Singh. Due to its elegance and built-in interior, the palace was the Maharaja’s favorite destination. The cooling effect in the halls enhanced by the fountains found at the center of each chambers must have also been an enticing detail to spend time at the Hawa Mahal in scorching months.
In 2006, renovation efforts were made to revitalize the world-famous façade. A popular tourist spot, the Mahal is currently maintained by the archeological Department of the Government of Rajasthan, and continues to be a popular tourist destination.
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