November 29, 2021

Windows by Microsoft?

A structure made entirely with windows, in fact, built only for the purpose of being a window to the world. For the royal women of Jaipur who used to stand behind the numerous windows at Hawa Mahal

Hawa Mahal, the palace of winds, not just due to the gentle breeze of the evening that the royal women must have felt caressing their faces after the stifling desert heat of the day… Hawa Mahal, not just the palace of winds but a castle in the air… The story being that the foundation of this huge building is just one foot deep but supports five storeys…

Windows by Microsoft?

A five storeyed structure, Hawa Mahal is not really a palace, but merely a facade; there is nothing inside it. Except level after level of narrow corridor over which the royal women used to be carried on palanquins, intricately carved pillars and windows and more windows than they could have ever looked out of… 953 windows in all, has anyone counted…?

And a structure that tapers towards the top, the entire shape representing the crown on the head of Lord Krishna… This is in keeping with the other depictions in Rajsthan of scenes from the life of Krishna and Radha – frescos, murals, paintings…

Through the doors

Which is why you enter the mahal not from the front, but from the back… And make your way towards the front. Walking ahead, if you turn around, you see just beyond the mahal Jantar Mantar, or the observatory built by Sawai Man Singh and considered a scientific marvel for is times. And from the top, you get views of the Jaigarh and Nahargarh forts in the distance…

Window view from Hawa Mahal

Hawa Mahal

You hear from the guide about the place where the women played and prayed. You hear about the angle of the mahal that is such that people inside could see out but not vice versa…
You hear about the secret passage that connects the mahal to the city palace, so the queens could make their way to their viewpoint without being seen by the outside world…

At each level, you stop and stare out of the windows and try to imagine what the women saw in those days. Certainly not this…

Looking at the town below from Hawa Mahal

And you wonder about notions of privilege and modernity; did the royal women like to be pampered and cosseted and sheltered so? Did they have a choice, or did they even think about it? I once had an interesting discussion with some friends at flickr on this… have a look at this and do tell me what your thoughts on this are…

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