Nowhere else in the world is there such a profusion of wall
paintings, so intricate and finely executed, in hundreds of havelies,
temples, cenotaphs, wells and forts, as in this region. The land of
Shekha (Rao Shekaji 1433-1488) is known for its human and artistic
Shekhawati is an interesting area of towns within the triangle of Jaipur, Delhi, and Bikaner. These towns are famous for the beautifully designed, carved, and painted haveli houses. Most of the havelis were built from the 18th to the early 1900s. Around the 15th century, several important trading posts were established in this area, and many of the merchants became quite wealthy.
The main towns in this area are Jhunjhunu, Fatehpur, Ramgarh, Nawalgarh, and Mandawa. The Painted Towns of Shekhawati by Ilay Cooper, gives a detailed account of the towns, buildings, and history of the area.
Havelis are magnificent mansions that usually have colorful paintings on the walls and often have intricate carvings. Many of the havelis have wooden gates (often intricately carved) leading into a small courtyard. That courtyard then leads into a larger courtyard. Some havelis have four large courtyards. The main highlight of many havelis is the outstanding murals painted on the outside and inside walls. Paintings may be decorated with gold or silver leaf and can be decorated with small mirror. Many of the paintings depict Krishnas pastimes, as many people in this area are devotees of Krishna.
Most of the havelis are privately owned and are not open to the public. The owners may not appreciate someone rushing into their house, uninvited. When you enter the inner courtyard, you are supposed to remove your shoes.
SikarLocated here are interesting painted temples, step-wells, and a clock tower. The New Palace has interesting paintings, including one of a map of the town in the Sheeh Mahal hall. The Deen Dayal Biyani (around 1900), Somani, and Murarka havelis are interesting. There are carvings in the Gopinath and Madana-Mohan temples.
FatehpurOne of the most interesting havelis is the Goenka Haveli (1870), which has excellent paintings on the walls, including several depicting Krishnas pastimes. The main highlight is the painted ceiling in an upstairs room. You get to this haveli by taking the main road north from the bus stand, and then you turn left at the main intersection. The house to the left of the Goenka Haveli hasnice mirrorr work.
Nand Lal Devra Haveli has an interesting painted ceiling as you enter the house and nice paintings on the courtyard walls. There is a 17th centuryborici (step-well) near the bus stand. Also good are Singhania (1880) and Saraogi havelis.
JhunjhunuThis nice, peaceful town has many beautifully painted havelis. Located here is the Khetri Mahal (1765), a minor palace, which is definitely worth seeing. There is a good view from the roof. The Bihariji Temple (1775) has nice paintings from the Ramayana on it.
The Modi Haveli (1895) in the main bazaar is considered to have some of the best paintings in the Shekhawati area. There are paintings of maharajas and many of Krishnas pastimes. The Tibrewala Haveli (1883) in the main bazaar has many murals on it and colored glass windows.
There are also step-wells, including Mertani Bawri, in the north of town, which is one of the best step-wells in the Shekhawati area. Jhunjhunu is a good place at which to base oneself while exploring the area because of the good accommodations and travel facilities.
NawalgarhLocated here is an interesting Fort (1737) built by Thakur Nawal Singh. Just after entering the south gate called Nansa Gate (now named Ramilas Poddar Gate), make a left and you will come to Aath Haveli, which is seven havelis together, covered in paintings. The Hotel Raj Hans Restaurant has the impressive Sheeh Mahal (Mirror Hall), which among its ceiling paintings has a painting of maps of Nawalgarh and Jaipur.
Some other good havelis are Poddar Haveli built in the 1920s (east past Poddar Gate), Bhagton ki Haveli, Goenka Haveli, Khedwal Bhavan, and the Hem Raj Kulwal Haveli. The Ganga Mai Temple, near Nansa Gate, is also interesting.
DundlodThere is a Fort (built 1750) here with a Diwan-i-khas with stained glass windows and good paintings. Nearby are the family chhatris, which to enter you have to ask at the fort. Good havelis are Jagathia Haveli and Goenka Haveli, which has three painted courtyards. There is also the interesting Satyanarayan Vishnu Temple.
MandawaMandawa, established in the 18th century, is a nice town with several excellent havelis. The Fort above the town is now a hotel with a small museum and nice paintings. There is a good view of the countryside from the fort.
The Gulab Rai Haveli (1875) has some of the best murals in Shekhawati on both the exterior and interior walls. The Binsidhar Newatia Haveli, next to the State Bank of Bikaner, has interesting paintings of people using 20th century inventions.
LakshmangarhSome interesting havelis here are the Shyonarayan Kyal Haveli, Rathi Family Haveli, and the Char Chowk Haveli (private). On a hill overlooking the city is a Fort built during the 19th century, from which you can get a good view of the area.
RamgarhIn the 19th century this was one of the richest towns in the area. Some good havelis are Poddar Haveli and Ram Gopal Poddar Chhatri near the bus stand. This town is 20km south of Fatehpur. The Shani Temple, in the northwest part of town, has goodmirror workk.
MahansarThe Poddar Haveli, Raghunath Temple and the Rama Temple, which has the interesting Golden Room, are interesting.
BissauBissau, 15km northwest of Jhunjhunu, has a Fort and the Chhatri of Hammir Singh, which has paintings on it. Some interesting havelis are Tibriwalla, Kedla, Jhunjhunuwala, Kedia and Khemka havelis.
Suggested tour packages of Shekhawati
Duration : 14 Days / 13 Nights
Places Covered : Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Ajmer, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Khimsar, Bikaner, Shekhawati