The semidesert region of Shekhawati is a
colourful fantasy having a fascinating uniquely of its own. The open air
art gallery, as it is popularly called is famous for its plethora of
painted havelis, all commendable pieces of the rich artistic traditional
of this region. ‘Shekhawati’, meanings the land of Shekhs clan derives its
name from Rao Shekha (1433 A.D.-1488 A.D. ) a section of the Kachhwaha
family of Jaipur. Earlier a part of the former Jaipur state, it now
comprises of the districts of Jhunjhunu and Sikar. Initially the region
had a blank monochromatic look but with subsequent historical and social
development it has blossomed into a colourful profusion of art and life
for almost 2 centuries from 1750 A.D. to 1930 A.D.
Shekhawati’s magnificent havelis or mansions, built by rich merchants of
the region, display a unique architectural style that evolved around the
courtyards to ensure safety and privacy of the women folk and protection
from the heat of the long and harsh summers.
The havelis,painted predominantly in the blue,
maroon,yellows,green and indigo have beautiful wall paintings that adorn
The earlier wall paintings (1830 A.D. -1900
A.D.)were largely based on the mythological themes, depicting local
legends, animals, portraits, hunting and wrestling scenes and a glimpse of
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 photographs.
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.
SIKAR : Founded in the late 17th
century,Sikar was the largest’thikana’(Feudal state) under Jaipur. The
fort and temples of Gopinath,Raghunath and Madan Mohan with commendable
frescoes are worth visiting. The jubilee Hall,Madho Niwas Kothi,Biwani
Havelli,Sodhani Haveli, the Jain temple and a large market are other
places of interest.
- Harsh Nath Temple (11 km) :
10th century temples situated on the Harsh Nath
- Jeen Mata Temple (29 km) :
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’.
- Lachhmangrh :
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.
- Rambagh :
Founded in the late 18th
century by the Poddars. The Shani Temple of the Saturday God has
delicately painted frescoes. Marvellous cenotaphs of the Poddars have
exquisitely painted ceilings. The Ganga Temple and some beautiful havelis
add interest to the town.
- Fatehpur :
Founded in the mid 15th
century 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 Indian and the western styles.
Of particular note among these are the Chamariya and Singhania
- Khatu Shyamji :
The village is famous for the
Shri Shyamji Temple,built in white marble.
- Sakambhari :
Famous for its 7th
century temple dedicated to Sankari Mata, the town is surrounded by hills
on three sides.An ideal picnic spot.
The capital of Shekhawati, it is of the largest
towns of the district.The town was founded by the Kayamkhani nawabs in the
mid 15th century A.D. and remained under their control until it
was taken over by the Rajput ruler Sardul Singh in 1730 A.D.
The district town has some splendidly painted
havelis. Easily accessible of these are those of Narssingh Das
Tibriwal,Ishwar Das-Mohan Das Modi and the Khaitans.
The most interesting monument is the Khatri
Mahal (the Wind Palace) dating back to around 1760 A.D. with elegant
lines. The Sri Bihariji Temple is noted for its lovely murals. Other
places worth visiting include-Badalgarh,Jorawargarh,Mertani
Baori,Kamruddin Shah ki Dargah, Birdi Chand ka Kaun,Ajit Sagar and a Jain
- Mandawa :
Founded in the 18th
century,this medieval fort dominates the town with a painted arched
gateway adorned with Lord Krishna and his cows. The Chokhani and Ladia
havelis and the street with Saraf havelis are some of the splendid
examples of this region’s havelis.
A shiva temple with a rock crystal lingam is
also worth a visit. The fort is now converted into a heritage
- Mukundgarh :
Known for it fine havelis, the fort
is now a heritage hotel.
- Dundlod :
Known for its fort, and a palace now
running as a heritage hotel. Havelis of the Goenka family are also
- Nawalgarh :
Founded in the 18th
century it has the finest of Shekhawati’s frescoes. Its two old forts and
palace hotel with garden and fountains along with a host of temples known
for their architecture and frescoes add interest to the town.
The prominent havelis are of the Poddars,
Bhagats and Dangaichs.
- Bagad :
Home of the Rungtas,Bagad was founded by
Nagar Pathans in the mid 15th century A.D. It has a reservoir
built by the Ojha family.
- Chirawa :
A popular trading town between Churu
and Loharu, Chirawa is famous for huge havelis. Of particular interest are
the havelis of Nand Lal Dalmia,Phool Chand Dalmia,Tara Chand Dalmia,Mangal
Chand Dalmia,Duli Chand Kakrania & Nemanis. Kakrania and Poddar wells
are also worth visiting.
- Pilani :
The home of the Bridals , the leading
industrialists of India. It has a large campus of the Birla Institute of
Technology and Science (BITS) with a beautiful Saraswati Temple,Shiv
Ganga. BITS museum, Panchwati and Birla Haveli Museum are also worth
- Surajgarh And Kajara :
Surajgarh has an
impressive 18th century fort, painted temples and havelis while
some beautiful 19th century havelis can be seen in
- Alsisar and Malsisar :
Founded in the late and
mid 18th centuries respectively,these towns lie at the northern
edge of Shekhawati.
The angular style of frescoes in various
colours make the trip to these town a memorable one. Beside the fort in
Alsisar,the Jhunjhunuwala havelis and a well complex are other interesting
The fort,temples and havelis along the main
street are also worth a visit.
- Bissau :
Founded in the mid 18th
century,Bissau has splendid chhatris of its Thakurs and finely painted
havelis of Khemka,Tibriwals and Kedia.
- Mehansar :
Founded in the mid 18th
century ,the Sone-Chandi-ki-Haveli and Raghunath temple with beautiful
paintings resembling the Bikaner school of art are worth
Famous for the Kothar Haveli (1915 AD) Kanhayya
Lal Bagla Haveli (1870 AD) having immense paintings of Dhola
Maru,Sassi-Punnu, etc. and the six storeyed Surana Haveli. The distinctive
features of the latter one are its beautiful windows,elegant doors-more
than 1,100 in number.
- Salasar Balaji :
A famous temple dedicated to
Hanumanji is located here.
- Ratangarh :
The massive fort, built in 1820 AD
by the Raja of Bikaner-Ratan Singh, is situated on the Agra Bikaner
highway. The market place is in the shape of a cross suggesting that the
city was planned before construction. An array of stately havelis can be
seen around the Clock Tower at the main crossing.
- Sardar Shahar (46 km) :
This enchanting desert
town has elegant havelis adorned with colourful paintings and carved
- Dudhwa Khara (36 km) :
A sprawling historical
village lying in the Thar desert. Besides enchanting topography,the
village has huge exquisitely designed havelis.
One can enjoy the rural life and camel safaris
in the village.
- Tal Chhapar (100 km) :
Home to the endangered
speicies of black buck and some migratory birds.
- Climate : Mean Max. Mean Min.
- Summer : 40.5
degree C 26.8 degree C
- Winter : 30.0 degree C 10.0 degree C
: 45-60 cms.
- Best Season : Sept.- March
- Clothing : Summer light
- Winter light woollen
- Languages : English, Hindi,