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About Shekhawati

 
 
The Shekhawati region of rural Rajasthan is a land of semi-Thar desert and startling murals. Gently-bustling streets are alive with activity and colour; local traders and women in saris of bold technicolour go about their daily lives. With its havelis Shekhawati is an open-air art gallery that catalogues the region’s past. There is much that is new to find here and still being found making each visit unique and full of small discoveries.

Nawalgarh
Nawalgarh, at the heart of the Shekhawati region, is unrivalled for its many havelis and authentic small-town atmosphere. The town contains over 300 havelis, some of which are extremely well-preserved. Nawalgarh is a small, rural town of shaded squares and market-laden streets, fortified by four distinctive gates (dating from 1750s). The town remains a cultural focus for this rich and colourful region, and is an excellent base from which to explore the surrounding towns including Dundlod, Parsampura, Fatephur, Mandawa, Mahensar and Lachmangarh. The havelis, so distinct to the Shekhawati region, were built by prospering merchants from the seventeenth century onwards. The majority of havelis were private houses, but cenotaphs and wells were also built. Frescos depicting scenes from Hindu mythology and everyday life decorate crumbling buildings. The painters show a variety of influences European, Hindu, Muslim and aspects of everyday life. Illustrations from the Ramayana and Mahabhartha (life of Krishna and Gopi) mix with erotic images, births, deaths, hookah-smoking figurines, harvesting and water-well scenes. Muslim architecture, with its domes and arches and pillars, intertwines with Rajput architecture, frescos and marvelous woodcarvings. Rajputs and Gods stand beside Europeans in often bewildering combinations. The painters were certainly not lacking a sense of humour! The havelis were also educational - bringing new inventions to the region for the first time e.g. steam trains, bicycles, automobiles, telephones, and even the tale of the Wright brothers first flight. Often the painters worked from their imagination so not all the images are historically accurate!

Beyond Nawalgarh
Outside the towns and villages, Shekhawati has much to offer the tourist. You can discover a landscape that is beautiful and unique to India: a garden of banyan, mango and khejri trees at the fringes of the Thar desert. The quality agricultural land is sustained by unpolluted mountain waters from the Aravalli range. In dust-filled, early-morning desert light, the landscape is particularly sublime. The Aravalli mountain range is a place of religious pilgrimage, with seven significant sites drawing pilgrims for purification and death ceremonies. A little further into the desert step-wells (built to accommodate the mountain waters and not widely seen elsewhere in India) can be found the most spectacular of which is Abernari.