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Shekhawati Travel Guide
Shekhawati Painting, Shekhawati Tours & TravelsThis is a semi desert region in north Rajasthan and it is situated entirely in the triangle between Delhi-Bikaner-Jaipur. Shekhawati is a region and not just a town or fort; it takes its name after its ruler Rao Shekha. Shekhawati means the garden of Shekha. The towns of Shekhawati are eminent for their amazing painted havelis. Such is the appeal of the havelis that this region is dubbed as "open art gallery of Rajasthan".

The plethora of painted Havelis in rich artistic tradition makes it commendable and fascinating. Most of the buildings are dated from 18th century to early 20th century. The Shekhawati landscape is dotted with so many havelis that tracking them is something like a treasure hunt. Various forms of fine art adorn the walls and the ceilings of these structures, complimenting the otherwise flat and barren land. The havelis are noted for their frescos depicting mythological themes and that of huge animals.

Some later day frescos shows the arrival of the British and highlighting steam locomotives and train doubtlessly for the benefit of those members of the household who did not travel to distance places by train or see this newly introduced mode of transport.

There are also forts, minor castles, mosques, wells called baoris and chattris to discover. The Rajputs mostly depicted the themes of historical events, personages' folk-heroes and the prominent war scenes, while the Marwaris concentrated more on religious themes but with the passage of time the themes too began to divert towards the modern views. At the decline of Mughal Empire after the death of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in 1707 the descendants of Rao Shekha encroached upon areas west of Aravali Range also.

The chieftains of the region retained nominal loyalty to Amber, who in turn honoured them with the title of 'tazmi sardars'. It was probably this exposure to the courts of Jaipur that encouraged these thakurs initiate their great succession of fresco. By the beginning of the nineteenth century British had established major ports at Calcutta (now Kolkata) and Bombay (now Mumbai) that were able to handle larger volumes of trade than ports in Gujarat.

Moreover with Jaipur reducing its levies the Shekhawati route was almost abandoned by traders. However the Shekhawati merchants who were seasoned businessmen migrated en masse to the more lucrative centres of Calcutta and Bombay. Here they earned unparallel wealth and send huge sums home, which were used for building havelis, social welfare, wells, reservoirs, schools etc.


Places to see :
Nawalgarh
Nawal Garh Fort, Nawalgarh Tours & Travels]Founded in the 18th Century by Nawal Singh, it has some of the finest frescos in the Shekhawati region. A huge fort with colourful bazaar and numerous havelis with elaborate architecture makes it an interesting destination for a 1day / 1 night stay. There are a few prominent havelis like Anandilal Poddar Haveli, Aath Haveli, Hodh Raj Patodia Haveli etc., which are to be visited, and so are the two forts and the palace hotel Roop Niwas that is a beautiful heritage property and is renovated with modern facilities.

The Palace offers spacious painted rooms, Luxurious interiors, graceful hospitality and great thematic evenings with sumptuous cuisine. The registered painting in their Art Gallery is a treat to the o visuals.

Dundlod
This Thikana (destination) is in the heart of Shekhawati Region, founded in 1750 and about 7 km from Nawalgarh the fort is a blend of the Rajput and Mughal Art and architecture the Diwan- e- khas (Hall of private Audience) has stained glass windows, find antiques and an impressive library.

The zenana quarters are on the 1st floor featuring exquisite decors and furniture. The fort is converted into a cosy and comfortable abode. The dress code of the state and grand hospitality with the horse guards are an attractive factor. The Goenka Haveli is worth a visit for the beautiful frescos and the fine mirror work above the windows and features of Florets and birds in the outer courtyard.

There are better-preserved paintings in few other havelis and chattris. A peep into the village on a camel safari is rather interesting. A fine breed of horses has been a passion with the family ancestors and continues till this time by their descendent. These royal studs are available for riding and horse safari. A 1 day and 1 night stay over at the resort envelopes you with the nostalgia of their classic life-style that is complimented by the formal hospitality and entertainment. The thikana Kansamas (chefs) doles out with delicious cuisines for the taste buds.

Close to the fort lies the Chhatri of Ram Dutt Goenka, which has an adjacent well. Built in 1888, the dome has floral motifs with banners extending from the centre. The dome is encircled by frieze showing Krishna dancing with his gopis, interspersed with musicians and peacocks. The paintings around the inner base show war panorama of Mahabharata. The Bhagirath Mal Goenka Haveli is a fine example mirror work on the windows of the upper walls of the inner courtyard. Notable are delicately preserved paintings mostly in round frames. The haveli is often locked.

Also worth a visit is Satyanarayan Temple built by the Goenka family. On the wall of the temples is a huge fresco with modern trappings showing British men and women on bicycles and cars, it also shows a long train and has a backdrop of telegraph wires. A painting under the roof in the upper space shows noble in leisure either smelling flowers or reading books. Another painting shows a turbaned man hold a bird while yet another portrays a woman admiring herself in the mirror.

One can stay at the Dundlod Fort, which is a fine heritage property. The fort also organises horse and jeep safaris. You can hire a camel for sight seeing and even hire an English-speaking guide.

Mukund Garh Fort, Shekhawati Holiday TravelsMukungarh
Built around a temple square, a few km from Navalgarh, 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 carried a fine example of fresco paintings.

Mandawa
Founded in the mid 18th century Manawa skyline today is dominated by an imposing mirage like fort now a heritage hotel that is maintained in the classic medieval theme with the modern luxuries. The painted archway is painted with interesting forms of paintings of Lord Krishna and his cowherds. The sprawling architecture houses a different theme in different wings.

The spacious rooms are adorned by intricate interior wall paintings and mirror work with open terrace that offers a panoramic view of the whole town. The women folks of the Mandawa family who lived in a royal style once used this floor. The ambiences of those years still linger around the rooms. 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.

The ceremonial costumes of the family collection and the precious arms with handle of jade and beautiful curios brought by the British as a gift for the nobles are well placed like a showcase of a museum. The hotel is well equipped with modern facilities in an ethnic set-up. A night stay is an experience in itself with thematic evenings and oriented and medieval cuisine. The warm hospitality is touching.

Hanuman Prasad Goenka Haveli has a depiction of Indra on an elephant and Shiva on His Nandi Bull. Right across from it is the Goenka Double Haveli with two gates. The haveli has monumental façade of elephants and horses. Some of its frescos are in bad shape. Nearby by is also Murmuria Haveli has train with a crowded level crossing.

It also shows a low flying crow above the train. The haveli also has an imposing picture of Nehru on a horseback holding the national flag. The Jhunjhunwala Haveli has impressive gold leaf painted room and charges an admission fee of Rs 10. The Mohan Lal Saraf Haveli has an impressive picture of a Maharaja stroking his moustaches. The Binsidhar Newatia Haveli, Lakshminarayan Ladia Haveli, Gulab Rai Ladia Haveli and Chokhani Double Haveli are some other havelis in the area.

Fatehpur, Shekhawati Holiday TravelsFatehpur
The Muslim Nawabs established Fatehpur in 1451 and the Shekhawati Rajputs took it over in the 18th century. The opulence of the local merchants is so evident from the richly painted havelis of Poddars, Choudhuri and the Ganeriwalas families. The town is also a good base to visit nearby towns of Lakshmangarh and Mandawa.

Mahaveer Prasad Goenka haveli built is 1885 is believed to have some of the best frescos in perfect match of colour and design. The haveli maybe mostly locked and may take several visits to be able to see it. Geori Shankar Haveli is a good example of mirrored mosaic ceiling. Haveli Nadine is a haveli purchased by a French artist Nadine Le Prince. It retains some good painting is shades predominantly in red and blue.

The artist is energetically restoring the painting and for the time being visitors is not allowed. The Choudaharia Haveli though in an extreme state of deteriorations has a rare departure of an erotic painting. The Jagannath Singhania Haveli has some fine paintings of Radha and Krishna and shows some British men holding guns. The others havelis, which are notable are Harkishan Das Saraogi Haveli and Vishnunath Keria Haveli.

Jhunjhunu
Is the biggest town in the Shekhawati region and are the district administrative head quarters for the region. It is located a 180 kms from Jaipur and 245 kms from Delhi. The Khemkhani Nawabs founded the town in the 15th century. The Rajput ruler Sardul Sigh took control of the town by 1730 and the British raised and based of locals here in 1830.

The brigade main task was to contain dacoits, which were mainly local chieftains. The town is approachable by train and road from Jaipur and Delhi. The town has decent accommodation to stay and can be an ideal base to stay while exploring the Shekhawati region.

Pilani
Once a small village is famous for being the hometown of the premier business and industrial family the Birlas. The town is also for its The Birla Institute of Technology & Science (BITS), Pilani is an all-India Institute for higher education. Its engineering college is reputed to be 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 bus and road from Delhi and Jaipur and the nearest railhead is Chirawa. Pilani also has good hotel accommodations
Bissau Palace, Shekhawati Holiday Packages
Bissau
Is another small town of fluctuating fortunes. Keshri Singh founded the town. The town fell into anarchies when his grandson Shyam Singh extorted huge sums of money from the local merchant.

The merchants packed up and fled the town and the local Thakurs resorted wide spread looting and decoity. However on the death of Shyam Singh his heir then restored normalcy and the merchants were encouraged

Parasrampuria
It a tiny village 20 kms southwest of Navalgarh. It boasts of some the oldest and the best preserved Shekhavati paintings in the region. The Shyamji Sharaf Haveli and 18th century haveli located near the bus stand has well conserved paintings.

Paintings show a grandmother having her hair attended and women on a spinning wheel. An English woman is polished boots and holding a parasol. Another frieze depicts Europeans in a car. Other frescos depict Gods and Goddess.

Baggar
Is a small town known for the Piramal Haveli, which accepts guests in its eight room on prior booking. The Hotel serves pure vegetarian food.

Salasar Balaji
In the Churu district and 2hrs drive from Fatehpur, the great famous temple of SANKATMOCHAN HANUMAN is situated. Salasar Balaji is situated in the small town called Salasar. The holy temple requires no introduction to Hindus all over the world. It has a trail of devotees that cannot be numbered.

Salasar Bala Ji Temple, Salasar Travel Vacation PackagesThe history of this temple dates back to 1811 in a village called Asota, where a farmer while ploughing his field, got stuck by some rock under the earth and when cleared by his wife, emerged an idol of Lord Hanuman. The Thakur of that village dreamt being asked to shift the idol of Salasar for proper religious incarnation.

At the same time a devotee worshiper of Lord Hanuman called Mean Das also dreamt about the Lord and was asked to do the same. The idol was thus sent to Salasar with all care and devotion.

Transforming the village into the Salasar Dham, initially a hut, the place was later developed gradually into a concrete temple, which now has a large complex. All that the devotees desire is fulfilled by Lord BALAJI, lacs of followers from all over the world visit this holy place every year.

Khatu Shyam ji
The legend of this immensely popular Krishna temple can be traced back to the medieval Mahabharat where, Barbareek the son of great Pandav brother Bhim and Nag Kanya (snake princess) displayed his great warrior skills that pleased Lord Shiva who endowed his blessings in the form of Teen Ban (three arrows) and Agni Dev (fire god ) gave him a bow, so that he could conquer all the three worlds. In order to watch the famous war of Mahabharat he sat towards the battle field and in between his tryst with a Lord Krishna in disguise become a vital part of the history and thus the incarnation of KHATU SHAMJI.

The lord asked the young Barbareek to sacrifice his head for charity, because otherwise the victory of pandavas would not be possible since he possessed the Teen Bans. The boy maintained his promise of Sheesh Dan as a true Kshatriya but at the same time wished to watch the war and his wish was granted. Later on, his head was buried in Khatu where the king had a dream and was inspired to construct a temple and place the head in a religious manner.

Till this date his devotees are blessed by just pronouncing his name from the bottom of their heart with true Samarpan. The devotees from all around the world visit this pilgrimage temple at the time of the mela in the Kartik month. Their devotion and belief simply pours from their conscious belief. The temple today is run by trust and the offerings of the devotees is for the Kripa which the god bestows on his devotees.


Shekhawati Travel Guide, Reservation Form