State : Rajasthan
Shekhawati gets its name from the Rajput Kachhwaha chieftain Rao
Shekha Ji. The descendants of Rao Shekha Ji are called Shekhawat.
The story of Shekha's birth is rather interesting to understand
the origin of Shekhawati. Mokal JI and his wife were much troubled
as they had no son for several years. They heard about the miraculous
powers of the Sheikh Burhan, a Muslim Saint. They decided to pay
the man a visit. After they received the blessings of the Sheikh,
a son was born to the couple. In honour of the mendicant, the couple
named his son Shekha.
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. The mythological themes depicting gods, lithographs and
Trains,cars,balloons,telephones gramophones, English men in hunting
attires and portraits of the haveli owners primely dressed were
painted all over the walls-thus making the havelis
interesting for both Indian and foreign travelers.
Place to See
Founded in the early 19th century by Raja Lachhman Singh of Sikar,
this town is planned on the lines of Jaipur, with roads at right
angles and roundabouts. The grant Char Chowk Haveli is reminiscent
of the prosperous Marwari way of life. The fort, Sawant Ram Chokhani
Haveli, Mirijamal Kyala Haveli, Bansidhar Rathi Haveli, Kedia Haveli
and Sanganeria Haveli adorned with beautiful frescoes.
The seat of the Poddar families, among other, Nawalgarh is known
for the high quality of its paintings, even in the richly frescoed
Shekhawati area. Its Poddar School has some excellent old work,
as well as walls that have been restored in recent times using the
same style of frescos for which the region is famous. Nawalgarh
was founded in 1737 by Thakur Nawal Singh, a warrior-statesman of
some eminence. The town has a colourful bazaar and a fort, now a
little disfigured, yet worthy of attention. There are numerous havelis;
prominent among them are the Aath (eight) Haveli Complex, Anandilal
Poddar Havlei, Jodhraj Patodia Havlei, Bansidhar Bhagat Haveli,
Chokhani Haveli and Hotel Roop Niwas Palace.
One of the principal feudal principalities of Shekhawati, the havelis
of this charming small town are beautifully painted, and some of
them are over two hundred years old. These include the Goenka Haveli
that is well known for the exquisite quality of its frescoes.
One on the most finest of the small towns in the Shekhawati region,
this feudal settlement not only has a royal castle, but innumerable
havelis where the painted facades offer a great variety of surprises.
Mandawa was founded by Thakur Nawal Singh, a descendant of Rao Shekha
after whom the entire region is named. It is today also a major
center of a handicrafts and furniture industry. A painted archway
decorated with Lord Krishna and his cowherds leads to the Bazar.
The Mandawa Family's collection includes ceremonial costumes and
precious arms with handles of jade. The havelis worth visiting are
those of Chokhani, Saraf, Goenka and Ladia.
Founded in the mid 15th century by a Kayamkhani Nawab, Fatehpur's
frescoes are unrivalled. The ones done on the walls on the Devra
and Singhania Havelis, splendidly combine Indian and Western styles.
These carry inimitable mirror work at the entrance ways, with Japanese
tiles carrying Mount Fuji's paintings. The Ram Gopal Mahavir Prasad
Goenka Haveli, Hukmi Chand Choudhri Haveli, Jalan and Bharatiiya
Haveli are well worth a visit.
Alsisar & Malsisar
Located on the northern most tip of Shekawati, these towns were
founded in the late and mid 18th centuries respectively. The style
of the frescoes here and lively colour combinations are a treat
for the eyes. Also the forts in Alsisar & Malsisar, as well
as the temples and the Jhunjunwala havelis are magnificent. Besides
painted havelis, wells and reservoir with ornamental traditional
architecture are worth seeing in both the villages.
Birla Museum of Science & Technology - Pilani
At Pilani, in the campus of Viday Vihar is located the Birla Museum
of Science and Technology. The museum contains the latest science
equipments, models of material science and illustrative diorama,
working models, charts & Photographs explaining the principles
of the science. It also throws light on the various aspects of engineering
science. Sharda Peeth marble temple dedicated to Saraswati, the
goddess of learning also worth a visit.
Fairs & Festivals
Khatu Shyamji Fair
Khatu Shyamji is famous for its Shyamji temple. There is steady
stream of devotees the year round. But lakhs of them gather at the
annual fair from Phalgun Sudi Dashmi to Dwadashi. Apart from being
a place of pilgrimage, a large number of people come for the Jadula
ceremony (the first time all hair is shaved off the head) of their
children. Legend connects the place to the epic Mahabharata war.
Krishna, it is believed took the form of a Brahmin and asked for
the head of Babhruvahan (Barbrick). He then placed the head on hillock
os that it could watch the war. Pleased with the sacrifice, Krishna,
then blessed Babhruvahan to be worshipped as Shyam himself in Kaliyug.
The Shekhawati Festival held on 10th & 11th Feburary every year
is organized jointly by the State Department of Tourism, District
administration of Sikar, Jhunjhunu and Churu, and the M.R. Morarka
GDC Rural Research Foundation. Shekhawati, already famous for its
frescoes, is fast becoming a rural tourism destination too. Traveling
on horse back, the tourists get a closer view of the countryside
and the people. And they return with an indelible imprint of not
only the friendliness of the people but also of the agricultural
revolution sweeping the villages. The region now exports 80 percent
of its crops whereas only a few year ago it could meet only 10 per
cent of its requirement through local production for a broad-based
discovery of Shekhawati's culture, the festival is spread over a
number of venues Nawalgarh, Sikar, Jhunjhunu and Churu. The programmes
include a one day tour of the region, camel and jeep safaris, farm
visits, rural games, cultural programmes, haveli competitions and
fireworks. The driving force behind this festival, the M.R. Morarka
GDC Rural Research Foundation, has pioneered integrated rural development
since 1993 and has identified tourism as thrust area for creation
of employment opportunities. The festival and other efforts of the
foundation have convinced the haveli owner of the need to preserve
their priceless heritage of frescoes.
How to Reach
Jaipur is the nearest airport, 120 km away
Mainline railway joining Delhi, Jaipur,Bikaner
Shekhawati is 120 km by road from Jaipur.
THis is the most convenient way to tour Shekhawati and surrounding