CITIES IN RAJASTHAN - SHEKHAWATI
semi-desert region of Shekhawati, lying in the triangular region between
Delhi, Jaipur and Bikaner, is famous for its plethora of painted havelis
(mansions), all commendable pieces of the rich artistic traditions of this
region. Starting around the 14th century, a number of Muslim clans' move
into the area and the towns, which developed in the region, became important
trading posts on the caravan routes emanating from the posts of Gujarat. The
'Open Air Gallery of Rajasthan', as it is popularly called 'Shekhawati', the
Land of Shekhs, derives its name from Rao Shekha (1433-88), one of the
descendents of the Kachhwaha family of Jaipur, who was one of the first to
establish his clan here. Although the towns have long since lost any
importance, they may once have had, what they have not lost is the
beautifully painted havelis (mansions) constructed by the merchants of the
area. Most of the havelis ate from the 18th century. The region also has
forts, a couple of castles, baolis (step wells), chhatris (cenotaphs) and
Havelis & Frescoes -Shekhawati's magnificent havelis or mansions, display a unique architectural style that evolved around the courtyards to ensure safety and privacy of the women folk and protection from the heat of the long and harsh summers. The havelis, painted predominantly in the blue, maroon, yellows, green and indigo have beautiful wall paintings that adorn their walls. The earlier wall paintings were largely based on the mythological themes, depicting local legends, animals, portraits, hunting and wrestling scenes and a glimpse of everyday life. The turn of the 19th century saw the appearance of new motifs, an outcome of the Raj's influence upon the Indian culture. Now cars, replaced elephants and traditional Indian miniatures mingled with naturalism of western paintings to produce interesting hybrid results. Trains, cars, balloons, telephones, gramophones, English men in hunting attires and portraits of the haveli owners primly dressed were painted all over the walls.
The major towns of interest in the region are Mandawa, Dundlod, Fatehpur, Ramgarh, Nawalgarh and Jhunjhunu, although virtually every town has at least a few surviving havelis.
Mandawa -founded in the 18th century, this is a compact and busy little market town. It was fortified by the dominant merchant families and its fort dominates the town with a painted arched gateway adorned with Lord Krishna and his cows. The Chokhani, Ladia and Saraf havelis are some of the splendid examples of this region's havelis. A Shiva temple with a rock crystal lingam is also worth a visit. The fort is now converted into a heritage hotel.
Dundlod -is a small village, right in the heart of the Shekhawati region. The fort here dates back to 1750 and has now been converted into a heritage hotel. The Diwan-I-Khas (Hall of Private Assembly) is in still a good condition and has stained glass windows. The noteworthy havelis include the Tuganram Goenka and Jagathia havelis. The Satyanarayan Temple is also another attraction.
Fatehpur -this town was established in 1451 as a capital for Muslim Nawabs but was taken by the Shekhawati Rajputs in the 18th century. Some of the main havelis of interest are the Mahavira Prasad Goenka haveli, Geori Shankar haveli, Nand Lal Devra haveli and the Harikishan Das Sarogi haveli. there is also the remains of a 17th century baoli (step well).
Ramgarh -was founded by the powerful Poddar merchant family in 1791 after thy had left the village of Churu following a disagreement with thee thakur (landlord). It had its heyday in mid 19th century and was one of the richest towns of the area. Apart from the Poddar havelis, the Ram Gopal Poddar Chhatri (cenotaph) is also noteworthy. The town is also known for its local handicrafts.
Nawalgarh -founded in the 18th century it has the finest of Shekhawati's frescoes. The main building of this town is the fort built in 1737. The havelis of interest here are Anandi Lal Poddar haveli, the Aath havelis, Hem Raj Kulwal haveli, Bhagton ki Haveli and the Khedwal Bhawan. There is also the Roop Niwas Palace that has now been converted into a hotel.
Jhunjhunu - is one of the largest towns of the
region and also the district headquarters. The town was founded by the
Kaimkhani Nawabs in mid 15th century AD. It remained under their control
until it was taken over by the Rajput ruler Sardul Singh in 1730. It was in
Jhunjhunu that the British based their Shekhawati Brigade, a troop raised
locally in the 1830's to try to halt the activities of the dacoits
(bandits). The town is known for the Khetri Mahal, a palace dating from
around 1770. It is one of the most sophisticated buildings of the region and
it offers splendid views from its top. The Bihariji Temple is from a similar
period and contains some fine murals. The noteworthy havelis include the
Modis haveli and the Kaniram Narsinghdas Tibrewala haveli. There is also a
Mertani Baoli (step well), a mosque, the Kamruddin Shah ki Dargah and a Jain
temple in the area.
Suggested Itinerary :DELHI / MANDAWA / SIKAR / PACHAR / AJMER / JAIPUR / DELHI
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