On Day 236, we toured the City Palace of Jaipur and started off with
Palace of The Winds
Picture taken on the road opposite Palace of The Winds aka Hawa Mahal
This structure is not really a palace but a facade much like a gate into the City Palace. It forms part of the City Palace, and extends to the Zenana, (remember this word? It refers to the chambers of the harem). This unique five-storey exterior has been likened to a honeycomb with its 953 small windows called jharokhas decorated with intricate lattice work.
Side of palace where shops operate
Built in 1799 of red and pink sandstone, this palace is situated on the main thoroughfare in the heart of Jaipur’s business centre. The Palace of the Winds got its name because the niches were constructed in such a way that even in the hottest of months, cool breezes could circulate keeping the royal ladies comfortable.
Back of Hawa Mahal showing niches
As you may have already guessed from the lattice, the original intention for this building was to allow royal ladies to observe everyday life in the street below without being seen. 953 niches were built behind where each queen and concubine could occupy to also welcome their Maharajah home when he returned to the City Palace on his elephant with his entourage.
Hawa Mahal- One of my must-see when I was in Jaipur
I fell in love with this palace the moment I read about it in a book 2 years back and since then I have been thinking of ways and means to replicate this (not an exact one but a symbolic one , whatever that means) in miniature. I think one of my havelis will have this spectacular facade but maybe done in a crazier more haphazard manner, like a castle in a fairy tale. Apparently, this palace is particularly striking when viewed early in the morning, lit with the golden light of sunrise.
J A N T A R M A N T A R
Jantar Mantar Jaipur- the biggest and best preserved, now a world heritage site
Standing right at the entrance to the palace in the old city of Jaipur is the open-air observatory, Jantar Mantar (instruments and formulae). This 5 acre park that looks like something out of a science fiction novel is built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, India’s last great classical astronomer. The Jantar Mantar (meant to read as Yantar Mantar but mispronounced over the years) in Jaipur has taken 8 years (1727-1734) to complete. It now holds 15 instruments, some of which conceived by the Maharaja himself.
Observation deck of the "samat yantra" or "giant sundial"
This is the Samrat Yantra, also the largest sundial in the world. It is definitely the biggest clock I have ever seen. At 90 feet high, its shadow moves visibly at 1 mm per second and is supposed to tell the time to an accuracy of about two seconds in Jaipur local time. Its face is angled at 27 degrees, the latitude of Jaipur. The Hindu chhatri (small cupola) on top is used as a platform for announcing eclipses and the arrival of monsoons.
Jai Prakash Yantra, the instrument invented by the Maharaja himself
My photo shows the inside of one of 2 bowls forming the Jai Prakash (light of Jai) Yantra. The bowls are a reflection of the sky in that every point in the sky is reflected on to a point on the bowl through the centre of a cross wire stretched on the surface of the bowl. The instrument to measure the accuracy of all the other instruments, this yantra co-ordinates the azimuth and altitude of a celestial object, tells local time and also makes other zodiac observations.
All fifteen astronomical instruments were made with local stone and marble. Six had solar measurement functions, eleven were for observing the night sky, and one was unfinished and I understood none of them. According to a report, these large, architecturally refined devices, capable of achieving much greater accuracy than small brass instruments, were based on Islamic astronomical theories. Most were derived from those commissioned by the fifteenth-century Byzantine ruler Ulugh Begh for the well-equipped observatory built in Samarkand in 1428.
Joyce's wonderful photo of the brass door to the City Palace
Finally, we are here, at the astoundingly beautiful home of Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, also the brainchild behind this amazing palace complex.
Doorway to quarters outside the palace -possibly a servant's quarters?
I am convinced (because I have seen pictures of the rooms in books and the film "The Fall") that the best parts of this complex are the furnished rooms which command a separate entrance fee of US$50.00 per person.
Virendra Pol, one of 3 gateway into the palace. Tripoli Pol is reserved strictly for the descendants of the ruling family who still live in the Chandra Mahal, or Moon Palace.
We were also told by our guide that many parts of the main palace, Chandra Mahal or the Moon Palace were closed as these were the lodgings of the descendants of the ruling family. Yes, they still live there to this day.
One of the four seasons gates in the palace courtyard. This one is the Lotus Gate symbolising summer.
Perhaps when I next visit Jaipur, I will see more of these spectacular rooms. In the meantime, I stand just as enthralled in front of the various gates and doorways of the City Palace.
Details of the Peacock Gate representing winter
Speechless and humbled, overwhelmed with awe. There is no question that these entrances and exits are works of wonder themselves. Every single carving, each piece of tile , a feast for the eye, holding promises of more wonders to come.
Scene from The Fall of The Green Gate, representing Autumn
My own The Fall moment after some heavy editing to black out unsightly bulges. Notice I even gave myself more hair?
I really did not want to post this picture but it was the only one of this iconic Green Gate that my camera took. Just to be able to say-I was here-threw all my caution to the winds. So after a little Hollywood touch up, here it is for me to announce to the world
There sat Sans!
I was here.