Thursday, January 26, 2017

About Hawa Mahal Jaipur - Architecture, Facts, History & Visit Timing

Hawa Mahal or the 'Palace Of The Winds' located in the heart of the beautiful Pink City of Jaipur in Rajasthan, India, is one of the most famous tourist attractions and a prominent landmark of the city that is renowned for its rich cultural and architectural history. Built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh of the Kachhwaha Rajput dynasty, this beautiful structure is predominantly a high screen wall made of pink and red sandstone that facilitated royal women to get an eyeful of the street festivals and busy city life while remaining out of the view of public. This five-storey building in the shape of a crown of Lord Krishna with 953 jharokhas or windows and a beautifully decorated fa├žade resembling a honeycomb of a beehive that gives one a feel of the rich heritage of the Rajputs.

History

In 1799, the Kachhwaha Rajput ruler, Sawai Pratap Singh, grandson of Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh ordered Lal Chand Usta to construct an extension to the Royal City Palace. The Purdah system at the time was strictly followed. Rajput royal ladies should not be seen by strangers or appear in any public area. The construction of Hawa Mahal allows the royal ladies to enjoy from every day street scenes to royal processions on the street without being seen.

Architecture

The five-stores palace was built in the form of Krishna’s crown because Sarai Pratap Singh was devoted to Krishna, the Hindu god.

The mahal has a total of 953 small casements each with small lattice worked pink window, balconies and arched roofs with hanging cornices. This allows cool breeze blow through the mahal and keep it cool and airy in summer. Despite the large number of windows, each of them are size of a peep hole such that the royal ladies were not to be seen by the public.

The top three storeys are a single room thick, namely Vichitra Mandir, Prakash Mandir and Hawa Mandir. The Maharaja worshipped the Krishna at the Vichitra Mandir. while the Prakash Mandir provides an open terrace to both sides. Worth noting is that there are no steps to the upper floors but ramps. They are for the palanquin of the royal ladies.

The autumn celebrations took place on the Sharad Mandir on the first floor. Don’t miss out on the colourful glassworks on Ratan Mandir on the second floor.

Contrast to the rich decoration of the exterior, the interiors of the mahal is much simpler. But it is also where you will find the best view of the city of Jaipur


Location

Located at Hawa Mahal Rd, Badi Choupad in Jaipur, you will not find any hassle while spotting this attraction. In fact, if you run short of time but want to see Hawa Mahal, you can have a quick view of it while travelling through Badi Chaupad. This was built so intricately that you can see the beauty even at a glance.

Best Time to Visit


Since it's Jaipur, which is in Rajasthan, it is always better to plan your trip during October and March. In fact, these are the six months when the Jaipur weather becomes very pleasant. In the day time, the weather becomes pleasing, while in the night, you may need to pull on the quilts.

How to Reach

You can reach the city by three modes of transport, plane, train or bus and even cab.

From Sanganer airport, you will get buses and cabs. It is up to you which one you would like to take. If you want to consider trains, then the nearest metro station is Merta Road Jn Railway Station. Bus service is also available, which will help you to reach the city without any trouble. But if you want even a more convenient travel experience, you can book a cab. You can take a look in and around the city whenever you want.
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Sunday, November 6, 2016

Chhath Puja - Hindu Rituals for the Sun God


Chhath Puja, also known as Surya Shashti, is a popular Hindu festival celebrated in the northern regions of the India. These regions include Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Other places where Chhath Puja is observed are Chhattisgarh, Chandigarh, Gujarat, Delhi, Mumbai, Nepal and Mauritius. The word ‘Chhath’ has its origin in ‘sixth’ as it is celebrated on the 6th day or ‘Shasthi’ of the lunar fortnight of Kartik (October - November) in the Hindu calendar – six days after Diwali, the festival of lights.



The origin of Chhath Puja dates back to Vedic times, as Vedic texts contains rituals associated with the worshipping of Sun. It is also believed that Draupadi, from the epic Mahabharata, used to perform similar rituals. Some people also believed that Chhath Puja was started by Son of Surya, Karna from Mahabharata. Chhath Puja is not only religiously significant, but also has several mental and physical benefits. Physically, the practice of Chhath facilitates in improving the immunity of the devotee. It is also believed that light rays emitted by sun are quite beneficial for the normal maintenance of the body. Being antiseptic in nature, the safe radiations from sun can help in curing fungal and bacterial skin infections. Sunlight received during Chhath provide energy that when get combined with blood streams enhances the performance of white blood cells, which further leads to improving fighting power of blood.


How Chhath is Celebrated
Chhath can well be regarded as the state festival of Bihar, where it goes on for four days. Outside of India, Chhath is mainly among celebrated by the Bhojpuri and Maithili speaking community apart from the Nepalese Hindus. It assumes a joyous and colorful form as people dress up in their best clothes and gather by rivers and other water bodies to celebrate Chhath. Many devotees take a holy dip at dawn before preparing the ritual offerings or ‘Prasad,’ which mainly comprising ‘Thekua,’ a hard and crude but tasty wheat-based cake usually cooked on traditional earthen ovens called ‘chulhas.’ The divine offerings are placed on circular trays woven out of bamboo strips called ‘dala’ or ‘soop.’ Women adorn new clothes, light lamps and sing devotional folk songs in honor of ‘Chhat Maiya’ or the holy river Ganga. After sunset, devotees return home to celebrate ‘Kosi’ when earthen lamps or ‘diyas’ are lit in the courtyard of the house and kept beneath a bower of sugarcane sticks. Serious devotees maintain a strict anhydrous fast of three days.

Legend
While the exact origins of Chhath Puja remain undefined and ambiguous, some believe it dates all the way back to Hindu epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata. 


The two legends associated with Chhath Puja are as follows:
Ramayana
Said to be a descendant of the Sun god, some say Lord Rama has a lot to do with the inception of Chhath Puja. On returning to Ayodhya after the exile, Lord Rama and Sita observed a fast in honour of the Sun god and broke it only at the break of dawn next day--a ritual that subsequently evolved into the Chhath Puja.


Mahabharata
Prominent mythological character Karna is said to be the child of Sun god and Kunti. It is said that Karna religiously offered his prayers while standing in the water and distributed prasad among the needy. 


Yet another story mentions how Draupadi and the Pandavas performed a similar puja to win their kingdom back. 

The 4 Days of Chhath


Day 1: Naha Kha/ Nahaye Khaye

On the first day of Chhath, devotees do not consume food before taking a bath, after which they prepare food items like chane ki daal, kheer, kaddu ki sabzi among others. 


Day 2: Kharna

Devotees fast till the Kharna puja concludes. After which a combination of jaggery-laden kheer and puris is offered to the gods and distributed among those who'd observed the fast.

Day 3: Pehla Arghya


The toughest and third day of Chhath has devotees--mostly women--observe a rigid fast where they neither consume water nor food. Dedicated to Sun god's consort, Chhathi Maiya this day is marked with folk songs and taking dips in the holy waters of Ganga, Kosi and Karnali--that go on till the sun sets.


Day 4: Doosra Arghya/ Paaran

Devotees break their long fast after offering prayers to the rising Sun.