Where Royal Concubines Watched the World Go By
Pink is the Rajput color of hospitality, and Jaipur, India’s “Pink City,” is a worthy home for Hawa Mahal, the five-story, salmon-pink “palace of winds,” adorned with delicate floral motifs and filigree windows. It’s really nothing more than an elegant facade, just one room thick, from which the ladies of the royal household could enjoy the breeze while viewing state processions or the parade of everyday life below.
Visitors today can climb to the top for a view of the Old City’s main street from any of Hawa Mahal’s myriad honeycombed windows. In the late afternoon light, variations of pinks, oranges, and the salmon-rust color of the sandstone palace take on a special glow, complemented by the colorfully dressed Rajasthanis. It is part of the City Palace complex, a rambling, exotic blend of Rajasthani and Mughal architecture executed by master craftsmen, and is a fascinating place to wander, made all the more evocative by the presence of the former maharaja, who lives on a high floor.
To escape the teeming carnival of street life, repair to the exquisite Rajvilas hotel, where the fantasy of Rajasthan’s princely life lives on. This 30-acre oasis of exotic pavilions, gardens, pools, and fountains with a pink fortress at its heart looks as if it has always been here, although it only opened in 1998. The use of ancient crafts and skilled workmanship supports the illusion of India as it was. Try one of the teak-floored, ultra-luxury desert tents.