Shekhawati - hundreds of havelis, temples, cenotaphs, wells & forts

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Shekhawati - Quick Facts

Location: North - East Rajasthan
Season: September to March
Clothings: Summer- Light tropical, Winter- Light woolen
Language: Hindi, Rajasthani, English & Gujrati
Rainfall: 45-60 cms
Attractions: Havelis, Open Art Galleries, Dundlod, Sikar
Best Time To visit: Oct-Mar

The semi-desert region of Shekhwati is popularly known as the 'open-air art gallery' of Rajasthan. The region lies the triangular area between Delhi, Jaipur and Bikaner and includes Jhunjhuniun, Sikar and Churu districts of Rajasthan, Shekhawati, is unique as no-where else in the world there is such a hundreds of haveli's, temples, cenotaphs,wells and forts.

Some of the best towns for fresco-seeing are Jhunjhunun, Mandawa, Fatehpur, Ramgarh, Churu, Mahansar, Mukundgarh, Dundlod, Nawalgarh, Lakshmangarh and Sikar, which are easily accessible. Shekhwati is often called the 'open air art gallery of Rajasthan' the region of medieval Shekhwati comprises the present day districts of Sikar and Jhunjhunu. The land of 'Shekha's clan' owes its name to Rao Shekha (1433-1488), a cousin of the Kachchawahas of Jaipur. However the hight quality frescoes which the region is particularly famous for, date between (1750-1930) the themes encompass traditional mythology, local legend and folklore, Rajput lifestyle, personalities from the epics and historically traceable personelties. Besides, one will also find a curious amalgamation of traditional Indian and Europen styles and subjects.

The towns of Sikar and Jhunjhunu can be used as convenient bases to explore the variegated examples of Shekhwati art. Both these towns on this circuit are well connected to Jaipur as well as to Delhi directly.

By Air
Jaipur (182 kms) is the nearest airport.

By Rail
As well connected by rail from Jaipur, Delhi and Bikaner.

By Road
Shekhawati is well connected to major cities like: Delhi 231 km, Jaipur 182 km, Bikaner 214 km, Churi 52 km.

•        Sikar - Delhi 299 km via Jhunjhunu
•        Sikar - Jaipur 114 km.
•        Sikar - Jhunjhunu 70 km.
•        Jhunjhunu - Delhi 231 km. via Singhana, Narnaul, Dharuhera
•        Jhunjhunu - Jaipur 182 km.
•        Jhunjhunu - Bikaner 230 km.
•        Jhunjhunu - Churu 52 km.
•        Sikar - Ladnu 90 km.

From Delhi 250km and 180km from Jaipur. The district headquarters was a stronghold of the Kayamkhani Nawabs till 1730. The havelis of the Tibriwals and the Modis as well as the Khetri Mahal and the Bihariji Temple have frescoes worth seeing.

The other district headquarters town also has several fine examples of frescoes on its havelis and temples. The main centers of Shekhawati art in this district are at Ramgarh Fatehpur and Lachhmangarh. Some of the important towns that should not missed are Sikar where the temples of Gopinath, Raghunath and Madan are interesting as are the Biyani havelis with their unusual blue and white colours. Two other important temples in the vicinity are the Harsh Nath temple and the Jain Mata temple.

Harsh Nath Temple (11 kms)
An ancient 10th century temples situated on the Harsh Nath hills.

Jeen Mata Temple (29 kms)
Believed to have been built a thousand years ago the temple is the venue of a colourful fair held twice in a year during `Navaratras'.

Lachmangarh (30 kms)
It is one of the most impressive and imposing in Shekhwati. One of the most imposing forts in the Shekhawati region, Lachhmangarh commands a bird’s eye view of the town modeled to resemble the city plan of Jaipur. Founded in the early 19th century by Raja Lachhman Singh of Sikar, the town has some lovely havelis.

Ramgarh (75 kms)
Founded in the late 18th century by the Poddars. The Shani Temple of the Saturday God has delicately painted frescoes. Marvelous cenotaphs of the Poddars have exquisitely painted ceilings. The Ganga Temple and some beautiful havelis add interest to the town.

Fatehpur (52 kms)
Founded in the mid 15th centuary by Fateh Khan –a Kayamkhani Nawab, the town is noted for unmatched frescoes. Its central location attracted many wealthy merchants and has some exquisite havelis –a combination of the India and the western style.Of Particular note among these are the Chamariya and Singhania havelis.

Khatu Shyamji (60 kms)
The village is famous for the Shri Shyamji Temple, built in white marble.

Shakambhari (56 kms)
Famous for its 7th centuary temple dedicated to Sakrai Mata,the temple is surrounded by hills on three sides. It is an ideal picnic spot.

Founded in the 18th Century by Nawal Singh, it has some of the finest frescoes in the Shekhawati region. A huge fort with a colourful bazaar and numerous havelis with elaborate architecture make it an interesting destination. There are a few prominent havelis like Anandilal Poddar Haveli, Aath Haveli, Hodh Raj Patodia Haveli, etc., which are to be visited, as also the two forts. The palace hotel Roop Niwas is a beautiful heritage property and is provided with modern facilities. The palace offers spacious painted rooms, luxurious interiors, graceful hospitality and thematic evenings with sumptuous cuisine. The painting in their Art Gallery is a great visual treat.

Lies in the heart of the Shekhawati Region about 7 km from Nawalgarh. It was founded in 1750. The fort is a blend of the Rajput and Mughal schools art and architecture. The Diwan-e-khas (Hall of Private Audience) has stained glass windows, fine antiques and an impressive library. The ‘zenana’ quarters are on the first floor featuring exquisite decor and furniture. The fort has been converted into a cosy and comfortable abode. Here the dress code and the royal hospitality accorded to visitors and guests are specially attractive. The Goenka Haveli is worth a visit for its beautiful frescoes, fine mirror work above the windows and features of florets and birds in the outer courtyard. There are better-preserved paintings in a few other havelis and chattris. A peep into the village on a camel safari is rather interesting. Fine breeding of horses has been a passion with the royals and the tradition continues. These studs are available for riding and horse safaris. A 1 day / 1 night stay over at the resort lets you sample an enchanting lifestyle. There are thikana kansamas (chefs) to dole out delicious cuisine.

Mukungarh (27 kms)
Built around a temple square, a few kilometres from Nawalgarh, Mukungarh has a magnificent fort, which is now converted, into a resort hotel with all modern amenities. There are a few prominent properties here in the form of havelis of Kanoria and Ganriwal, which carry fine examples of fresco paintings.

Mandawa (25 kms)
Founded in the mid 18th century Mandawa skyline today is dominated by an imposing fort, now a heritage hotel that is maintained in classic medieval style with modern luxuries. The archway is painted with interesting forms of Lord Krishna and his cowherds. The sprawling architecture houses different themes in different wings. The spacious rooms are adorned by intricate interior wall paintings and mirror work with an open terrace that offers a panoramic view of the whole town. The women folk of the Mandawa family who lived in a royal style once used this floor. The Mandawa family has a unique collection of their preserved paintings and antiques that adorn the main huge hall in the centre of the castle, originally the durbar hall and now an exotic lounge.

Pilani (45 kms)
Once a small village, it is now famous for being the hometown of the premier business and industrial family, the Birlas. The town is also known for The Birla Institute of Technology & Science (BITS, Pilani), an all-India Institute for higher education. Its engineering college is reputed to be among the top ten colleges in India. Late Mr G.D. Birla - an eminent industrialist and an associate of Mahatma Gandhi founded the Institute. Other places of interest are The BITS Museum, Shiva Ganga, Saraswati temple and the Pachwati. Pilani is connected by road from Delhi and Jaipur. Its nearest railhead is Chirawa. Pilani also has good hotels.

Bissau (40 kms)
Is another small town of fluctuating fortunes. Keshri Singh founded the town. It fell into anarchy when his grandson Shyam Singh extorted huge sums of money from the local merchants. The merchants packed up and fled the town and the local Thakurs indulged in looting and theft. However, after the death of Shyam Singh, his heir restored normalcy and the merchants were encouraged to return.

It is a tiny village 20 kms southwest of Nawalgarh. It boasts of some of the oldest and the best preserved Shekhawati paintings in the region. The Shyamji Sharaf Haveli and 18th century haveli located near the bus stand have well preserved paintings. Paintings show a grandmother having her hair attended, women on a spinning wheel and an English woman in polished boots holding a parasol. Another frieze depicts Europeans in a car. Other frescoes depict gods and goddesses.

Often called as an Open Air Art Gallery, Shekhawati provides an amazing experience to those with an eye for art and paintings. Shekhawati shopping destinations are mostly famous for their excellent handicrafts. Amongst the numerous handicrafts, the paintings of Shekhawati are quite popular. You will find some amazing paintings to use as decoration pieces for your home or even take back as gifts. Especially, the frescos painted on paper and cloth are truly amazing.

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