HAWA MAHAL FESTIVAL

by Naveen Tripathi
Hawamahal Festival

Not just an Evening to Remember…

A MODEL FOR HERITAGE CONSERVATION

The Pink City Jaipur is a world-renowned tourist destination and the old, walled city is a UNESCO World Heritage Monument. Among the rich repertoire of built heritage in this zone, the majestic Hawa Mahal stands out as the most recognised and celebrated symbol of the city.

A 300-year old city has numerous conservation and heritage protection challenges: high population pressure, heavy traffic, pressure on infrastructure & civic amenities. Major parts of the walled city are active commercial centres and commercial compulsions often take precedence over heritage conservation.

THE IDEA

Glistening opening of the iconic Festival… renowned Nathu Lal Solanki & group engaged the audience throughout their performance.
Glistening opening of the iconic Festival… renowned Nathu Lal Solanki & group engaged the audience throughout their performance.

The Chief Secretary of Rajasthan envisioned the Hawa Mahal Festival as an unprecedented and iconic street festival and also a tool for sustainable heritage conservation.

Guided by this vision, the State Tourism Department directed Dancing Peacock to design an experience that:

  • Would help develop ownership and pride on built heritage among local residents and business community
  • Would help create a deeper engagement of visitors with built and cultural heritage (who currently just rush past this area because of the traffic congestion)
  • Has the potential of becoming a cultural asset for the World Heritage Site
  • Would create a model for a truly inclusive cultural festival

THE HAWA MAHAL

Powerful Dhol Thali Dance performance by the Male Artistes against the backdrop of the iconic Hawa Mahal.
Powerful Dhol Thali Dance performance by the male artistes against the backdrop of the iconic Hawa Mahal.

The Hawa Mahal is located to the south-west of Jantar Mantar and its façade can be admired from the Sirah Deohri bazaar near Bari Chaupar.

Hawa Mahal (and Sirah Deohri bazaar) as a festival venue presented a number of challenges.

One of the most recognised buildings in the country and the icon of the Pink City is located in one of the most crowded & congested locations. Besides, the Sirah Dehori bazaar is an important traffic artery without any alternative route. All this made festival preparations including transportation and setting up of stages, lights, etc. extremely challenging.

Hawa Mahal also lies right in the middle of an extremely busy retail market. During the tourist season – October to February – this local market is open all seven days a week. Resistance from trade association for a night festival also added to the challenges.

FESTIVAL DESIGN

The team of Designers, Volunteers & Artistes behind the success of the first-ever historic Festival.
The team of Designers, Volunteers & Artistes behind the success of the first-ever historic Festival.

Dancing Peacock engaged with the retailers’ association, addressed their concerns and ensured their ownership for the Festival.

Evening of Sunday on the day next to Makar Sankranti was chosen for the festival as Jaipur would have a large number of tourists visiting that weekend with little to engage in in the evening. Sunday evening would also be a low-stress time for the market and the street.

The Carnival under the stars was designed as a ‘Street Festival’ spread over half-a-kilometre stretch from Bari Chaupar to Ayodhya Gate, with no vehicular traffic. Leaving Ayodhya Gate free provided an easy alternate route through Jaleb Chowk.

To seamlessly integrate the local businesses in the Festival, every store in bazaar was mapped and only vacant spaces between them were used for smaller concerts and other attractions.

A focussed digital promotion campaign was undertaken by Dancing Peacock to draw visitors, especially tourists and youth.

FESTIVAL AT A GLANCE

Mashak Pungi is a traditional musical instrument made of goat skin… a rare and beautiful performance by skillful & experienced artistes.
Mashak Pungi is a traditional musical instrument made of goat skin… a rare and beautiful performance by skillful & experienced artistes.
  • Main Concert in backdrop of Hawa Mahal (8:30 – 10 pm)
  • Entertainment activities all along the street on both sides
  • 160+ Artistes from across the state
  • Wide variety of folk, classical, community music, college bands
  • Showcased rarely seen music-dance forms
  • Variety of food options
  • Systematic digital promotion in a short span of time

MANY FIRSTS

  • First ever concert in backdrop of Hawa Mahal
  • First Street Festival of the City
  • Open-for-all night festival: Shops open till midnight
  • A barrier-free festival: no VIPs, no reserved chairs, no cordoned off spaces

THE FESTIVITY

Live-size Human Puppets entertained the audience with their graceful movements.
Live-size Human Puppets entertained the audience with their graceful movements.

There was visible excitement among locals and tourists since early in the day. The Festival organically kicked off an hour in advance.

There was an unprecedented environment of festivity and people – even elderly and children – poured in in large numbers despite chilly weather. They danced with the artistes to no end and feasted on street food till midnight.

THE OUTCOMES

Hon’ble Chief Minister, Shri Ashok Gehlot surprised the audience with his unexpected visit.
Hon’ble Chief Minister, Shri Ashok Gehlot surprised the audience with his unexpected visit.
  • Hon’ble Chief Minister made an impromptu, surprise visit to the Festival and walked the festival with other visitors
  • Trade associations of adjoining markets have started requesting for a similar festival in their bazaars
  • The Festival has created a model and paved way for many such events in future

All 33 districts of the State have been directed by the hon’ble Chief Minister to organise festivals on the ‘Hawa Mahal Festival model’

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