Hawa Mahal - Palace of Winds
When you are stuck in traffic in India, and you hear on the radio that 'today you are in the second hottest place on Earth,' very few things are going to cheer you up. This was my plight as I was attempting to navigate my way through Jaipur back to my hostel. Between the crowds, the traffic, the incessant horn honking, the stifling heat and the occasional sacred cow wandering through an already congested intersection, I was so deep in my 'India experience' that I was taken aback when I glanced up at this wonderful structure and suddenly smiled. I ditched the cab to learn more about my new favorite building. Built in 1799, Hawa Mahal has 953 tiny little windows that are covered in incredibly ornate latticework. I pondered the reasoning behind this, and referred to my guidebook to learn that these were all viewing windows through which the female royals could safely observe everyday society while still having their faces concealed. As I stood gazing upward, I wondered what it would have been like, back in the day, to be a commoner on the street looking up at all the little 'hidden faces' in the Palace of Winds. Who are they? What is their story? Would they rather be out here with me? What is it like inside? While I was unable to answer the first three questions, I was able to do something about the last one. The entrance is not in front, but from a side rear doorway. Head to Jaipur, visit Hawa Mahal, take a peek out the window, and enjoy your royal vantage point.