Palace of Winds

The tuktuk suddenly stopped and the driver indicated that we were to vacate his vehicle. No problem, I’ve been thrown out of better vehicles than a tuktuk. We piled out, and let me tell you this is something that can’t be done gracefully, and looked around. Typical of India there is no indication of where to go or how to enter. Nada.

First we had to find a little hole in the wall that sells the Holy Grail ticket that lets you into several venues we’re interested in at a discount. Frankly it was time to just start walking and trust your spidey sense to sus out the lay of the land.

Sure it can take some time, but it’s always the last place you look.

Now we have to find out how to get into the palace. Palace may not be the proper name for a place that has a beautiful grand facade that is actually the back of the thing, with no obvious way to enter. Eventually we stumble onto the ticket takers at a humble entrance in the side of the building.

The Hawa Mahal, started in 1778, is the tallest building in the world without a foundation. It’s adjacent to the City Palace and was built to allow the royal ladies to observe the activities of the street below while remaining hidden.

There are five stories, named but not numbered. Five floors but no stairs, only India’s famous ribbed ramps were used throughout. A few steps were added later.

You enter on the level called Sharad Mandir through a doorway that opens onto a large courtyard where celebratory gatherings took place.

Ratan Mandir floor dazzles with colorful glasswork in the walls.

The Vichitra Mandir floor was reserved for the Maharaja, a kind of private temple to worship his personal favorite, Krishna.

Prakash Mandir floor is an open terrace.

The top floor is called Hawa Mahal which gives the palace its name. This is where approximately all 105 of the Maharaja’s harem were kept.

The ladies were never to leave the building or be seen…well I’m thinking except for the Maharaja.

The ladies had hundreds of little peek-a-boo hatches, called jharokas to surreptitiously gaze out at street life far below without being seen.

A lot of thought went into keeping air flowing throughout the building using open courtyards and latticework everywhere. There is a marked difference in temperature from outside.

Secret passageways were everywhere and some of the little jharokas were used to spy on each other and guests.

After a brief intermission Marce sat in with the band.

A small museum of bas relief and sculpture from Amber Palace really sets the party scene.

The Maharaja copied from an early portrait

Then it’s exit in the same weird way you enter.

The back of the Palace of Wind from the front street.

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