Jaipur’s most iconic landmark, Hawa Mahal literally translates to ‘Palace of the Winds’ and is perhaps the most photographed monument in the historical pink city. It is situated bang in the middle of the Old City or Walled City of Jaipur and is akin to a fairytale come true.
It was constructed in 1799 as an extension to Royal City Palace and is a dazzling structure in pink-sandstone that rises an astonishing five storeys. It was originally constructed by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh to enable ladies of the royal household to watch everyday street scenes of Jaipur and the various processions on festivals without being seen.
It lies near Choti Choupad and has 953 windows on the outside walls. I had seen it a million times from outside and at night it looked even prettier. So, when an opportunity came knocking I knew it was time to visit the Hawa Mahal, for real. And what a glorious experience indeed.
So in the never ending tourist vs traveller debate, I simply say that as human beings we want to be everything without being judged. My travel style is that I move around like a local and avoid touristy things yet once in a while it is absolutely normal to become a tourist in my own city. I loved walking down the street of Hawa Mahal feeling like an outsider!
And yes, this Hawa Mahal experience tells me that monsoons are the best time to visit Jaipur. There are hardly any tourists here right now, the hotels are cheap, you can have the sights to yourself and taste authentic Rajasthani food, experience the various colourful festivals like Teej for a peek at Rajasthani life. Come October and the world will descend, then the locals hardly have time to talk as it is high season awash with foreigners.
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Happy travelling, even if you can’t venture outside all it needs is a change in mindset. Travel, be a tourist in your own city. Do not let the world tell you won’t enjoy it, the monsoons are a time for the outdoors. Make the most of the bounty.