Sekhawati

          THE OPEN AIR GALLERY

 


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.

Havelis :


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 their walls.

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 everday life.

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.

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.

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.

PRIME SITES

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

  • 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 :
    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.

  • 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 havelis.

  • 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.

JHUNJHUNU

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 temple.

PRIME SITES

  • 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 hotel.

  • 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 famous.

  • 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 visiting.

  • Surajgarh And Kajara :
    Surajgarh has an impressive 18th century fort, painted temples and havelis while some beautiful 19th century havelis can be seen in Kajara.<

  • 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 structures.
    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 seeing.

CHURU

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.

PRIME SITES

  • 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 woodwork.

  • 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.

GENERAL INFORMATION

  • Climate : Mean Max. Mean Min.
  • Summer : 40.5 degree C 26.8 degree C
  • Winter : 30.0 degree C 10.0 degree C
  • Rainfall : 45-60 cms.
  • Best Season : Sept.- March
  • Clothing : Summer light tropical
  • Winter light woollen
  • Languages : English, Hindi, Rajasthani.
 
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