1000 Places

#TravelTuesday: Palace of Winds, Jaipur, India


Tuesday 18 October 2016

Palace of Winds

Jaipur, Rajasthan, India

© Michele Falzone/Photolibrary

© Michele Falzone/Photolibrary

Pink is the Rajput color of hospitality, and Jaipur, capital of the desert state of Rajasthan, is known as the “Pink City.” It is a worthy home for Hawa Mahal, the five-story, salmon-hued “palace of winds,” built in 1799 and adorned with delicate floral motifs and fronted with honeycomb windows. The upper two stories (of five in all) are really an elegant façade, just one room deep but pierced by 953 windows from which the Hindu ladies of the royal household in purdah (concealment from men) could enjoy the breeze while viewing state processions or the parade of everyday life in the Old City below. In the late-afternoon light, the sandstone palace takes on a special glow. The building is just around the corner from the rambling City Palace complex, an exotic blend of Rajasthani and Mughal architecture that still houses the former maharaja and his family on a high floor.

To escape the teeming carnival of street life, repair to the exquisite Oberoi Rajvilas hotel, just a few miles outside of town, where the fantasy of Rajasthan’s princely life lives on. This 32-acre oasis of exotic pavilions, pools, open courtyards, and fountains, with a pink fortress at its heart, looks like a royal village that has always been here, although it was actually built in 1997, the first of India’s new luxury hotels. Relax in one of the teak-floored, ultraluxe royal tents, and visit where overnight guests are welcomed—stay at the Samode Palace Hotel, the Samode Haveli, the Taj Rambagh Palace, or any of Udaipur’s opulent contenders such as the inimitable Taj Lake Palace.

Where: 162 miles/260 km from New Delhi. Oberoi Rajvilas: Tel 91/141-268-0101; in the U.S., 800-562-3764. Cost: from $775. Best times: Sep–Mar for pleasant weather; sunrise and late afternoon, when the palace glows; late Feb or Mar for the festival of Holi; Jul–Aug for premonsoon Teej Festival, dedicated to the goddess Parvati.

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