Hawa Mahal: How India’s ‘palace of winds’ was ahead of its time

Editor’s Word: Monthly Ticket is a CNN Journey sequence that spotlights a number of the most fascinating subjects within the journey world. Because the UK crowns a brand new monarch, we’re exploring all issues royal, from castles to grand excursions.


In 2015, India launched an bold plan dubbed the Nationwide Good Cities Mission, aimed toward making 100 city facilities extra livable and sustainable via modern and inclusive options.

Among the many 100 cities chosen was Jaipur, the northwestern desert capital of Rajasthan.

However whereas the Good Metropolis challenge idea was aimed toward modernizing India, historians argue that Jaipur’s “good” credentials have been forward of the sport for hundreds of years.

Now famed for its historic pink buildings, it was the primary “deliberate metropolis” of King Sawai Jai Singh, an astronomer who used planetary positions as his information when deciding on the orientation and positions of the constructions. He moved his kingdom’s capital from the close by village of Amer to Jaipur in 1727.

Roughly 1 million people visit Hawa Mahal each year.

Within the years to observe, Rajasthan’s kings continued their patronage of artwork and structure – together with descendant King Sawai Pratap Singh.

He was a builder with a creative facet – Jaipur’s outdated palatial metropolis partitions characteristic quite a few examples of his love for artwork. However nowhere showcases that keenness fairly like Hawa Mahal, which isn’t solely architecturally gorgeous however provides classes in sustainable constructing.

Accomplished in 1799, it’s immediately one in every of India’s most recognizable icons and a well-liked vacationer attraction. Indian authorities in command of the monument say roughly 1 million folks go to annually.

Previous the town’s fractal pink partitions and the frenzy of the outdated metropolis market, the Hawa Mahal is an imposing construction, its recurring pyramids rising 5 flooring above the chaos.

With a staggering peak of 87 toes, dotted with 953 ornate louvered home windows, it’s a feast for the eyes. However few understand that what you see from the road is basically the rear of the constructing.

“It is rather uncommon for a constructing to be not recognized for its entrance, however its again,” says Sanjay Sharma, who has been guiding guests via Hawa Mahal for greater than twenty years.

“(Vacationers) marvel at what they see from the principle street, pose in entrance of it for a quintessential Jaipur {photograph} and transfer on. Few come inside; the interiors are easy, solely curious minds would perceive that behind the blushing façade there’s far more to it than what meets the attention.”

In accordance with Dr. Mahendra Khadgawat, director of Rajasthan’s State Museum and Archaeology Division, King Sawai Pratap Singh was an ardent devotee of Hindu deity Krishna and commissioned architect Lal Chand Usta to assemble a crown-shaped pavilion that resembled Krishna’s crown. Hawa Mahal was the end result.

“The first objective of the constructing was to permit the royal girls to take pleasure in on a regular basis avenue scenes and processions with out being seen owing to the purdah system,” he says, referring to a social observe in medieval India during which girls, significantly from the higher courses, have been required to cowl themselves and stay secluded from public view.

Architect Kavita Jain, a conservation and heritage specialist, says Hawa Mahal served extra functions as properly.

“For the town of us, the rear elevation on the east facet dealing with the roadside is a visible deal with; for the king himself, a legendary construction that generations will bear in mind him for; for the royal girls, a method to be related to the widespread folks and their celebrations with out showing in public,” she says.

“However for a eager eye, it’s a intelligent feat of engineering, the place aesthetically interesting components have been used to create a microclimate snug sufficient for the queens to take pleasure in their outing.”

In the present day, the constructing is a chief instance of the position local weather performed in India’s historic designs and gives proof of a complicated understanding of the legal guidelines of thermodynamics.

In Hindi, “hawa” means wind, and “mahal” means palace – and the identify couldn’t be extra becoming.

02 Samode India

Stay like Rajasthani royalty at this 475-year-old palace lodge

“The orientation of the constructing is on the east-west axis, aligned with the path of the pure move of the wind on this area,” says Jaipur-based architect Shyam Thakkar.

“The wind enters the palace from the west (via a sequence of open grounds). It picks up moisture from the water physique thoughtfully positioned within the courtyard utilizing the precept of convection currents; the new air rises, and the cool air descends.”

It doesn’t finish there. Thakkar says the moisture-laden wind then strikes in the direction of the 953 home windows (jharokha) and cools the air down due to the Venturi impact – air flows via a constricted passage, rising the wind velocity whereas dropping the strain.

“Intricate lattices (jaalis) on the home windows break up and distribute the air move evenly to make sure no hotspots; it additionally controls the direct glare of daylight,” he provides.

“Utilizing lime (chuna) as a lattice materials is a ultimate flourish. Chuna can regulate temperature inherently.”

In accordance with information Sharma, the flooring have additionally been segregated in response to the seasons.

“The quantity and the dimensions of the openings differ accordingly on every flooring,” he says. “Some flooring have home windows lined with stained glass, and a few simply open jaalis. The proportion of the open areas left on every flooring is ruled by its season of use, specifically prewinter, spring, summer season and winter, making the Hawa Mahal a really climate-responsive constructing.”

Jaipur is sizzling and dry for a lot of the yr. In the course of the peak summer season months, it will probably climb to over 43 levels Celsius (110 levels Fahrenheit.)

Now that India is the world’s most populous country, with a proliferating center class, facilities that have been as soon as a luxurious have turn into a necessity. And that features air con.

In accordance with information by the IEA up to date in October of 2022, the world will add an estimated 1 billion air conditioners earlier than the tip of the last decade.

This may finally result in extra carbon emissions. With India accounting for 17.7% of the world’s whole inhabitants, a worldwide impression is inevitable.

Hawa Mahal has 953 ornate louvered windows.

Confronted with this pressing want for extra sustainable, greener buildings, many architects wish to the previous for steerage.

“We will take a lesson or two from the normal Indian structure that developed to offer snug environments by harnessing forces like daylight and wind,” says Thakkar.

“As a climate-conscious architect, I used the colonnaded arcade with a water physique in a latest challenge for a restaurant within the metropolis, which considerably lowered the extent of air con required within the constructing. In one other occasion, in our challenge of a lodge we use lime mortar, together with courtyards and small fenestrations. The end result was a shocking, passively cool constructing.”

In one other occasion, New York-based architect Diana Kellogg successfully used the “Venturi impact” to create an award-winning faculty challenge in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan – the Rajkumari Ratnavati Girls’ School.

To expertise Hawa Mahal’s cooling results firsthand, head inside Jaipur’s Metropolis Palace – it’s situated on the sting of the palace grounds. Guests have to pay a small admission charge.

The most effective time to admire its golden glow is at dawn, however the palace itself is simply open from 9 a.m. to six p.m.. A couple of small cafes on the alternative avenue are open for these eager to snap pictures of the Hawa Mahal within the early morning gentle.

Whereas immediately’s new constructions is likely to be extra technologically superior, heritage buildings such because the Hawa Mahal are unmatched of their skill to awe, concludes architect Jain.

“They’re everlasting,” she says. “I can not think about folks remembering a faceless glass skyscraper in a concrete jungle 200 years later as they do the Hawa Mahal.”

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