A place so affluent yet abandoned, colorful yet deserted, and historically rich yet forgotten! Shekhawati region, once ruled by Shekhawat Rajputs and prospered by Marwar merchants, is not just another town which used to be a part of ancient silk route but is also the world’s largest open-air art gallery.
The districts of Churu, Jhunjhunu, and Sikar combine to make Shekhawati region which carries the legacy of iconic merchants in the form of grand Havelis, who eventually moved to the bigger towns of Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata during the decline of silk route, leaving their mansions abused and in disuse. Every single inch of these Havelis is adorned with beautiful fresco paintings which depict amusing stories from the lives of merchants, kings, and queens. The pictures also depict the borderless imagination of artists and the merchants as some of them are a perfect amalgamation of real & unreal, tangible & intangible, and Indian & Western. The doors are made from the sturdy teak wood imported from Myanmar (then Burma), and Belgian mirrors grace some parts too. Some of these mansions have been restored to beautiful heritage hotels, a few are managed by their caretakers, and others have their great assets unlocked behind big doors. Rajputi and European architectures have a significant influence on their construction style which comes as a result of travels of the owners to the various parts of the world for their trade.
Let’s embark on a journey to unravel the rich and amusing history of this region, to give a visual treat to our eyes and click some Instagram-perfect shots. Be ready to explore the unexplored and be amazed by this hidden gem in the state of Rajasthan!
1. Holi Celebrations: Holi in Shekhawati is celebrated in one of the most fun and unique ways. We will celebrate it with a few people (in order to keep it manageable) from the local community. We will have a dry Holi with lot of sweets while dancing on the tunes of local drums, Dholaks, and melodious folk songs.
2. Havelis: We will visit many mansions during heritage walk in Mandawa, Churu, Ramgarh, and Nawalgarh. The grand entrance doors with the most intricate woodwork to these marvels are very inviting, and the interior charm is bound to keep us captivated. The feeling of visiting the most beautiful yet abandoned is indescribable in words.
3. Cenotaphs: Cenotaphs or chhatris are a type of monument created by wealthy Rajasthani families to honor their dead. We will visit the Poddar group of Chhatris where mesmerizing murals depict the scenes from Ramayana and the life of Lord Krishna.
4. Podar Haweli and Museum: It was initially built as a residential place, but later converted into a museum to bring the cultural heritage of Rajasthan under one roof. Podar Haveli has 750 frescos spread over 11, 200 sq meters. The galleries of museum showcase the forts, fairs, festivals, gems & jewelry, bridal costumes, turbans, paintings, handicrafts, etc. The most innovative gallery is the ‘Rajasthani Living Style’ which exhibits the ‘baithak’ in the house of a typical Marwari merchant.
5. Dundlod Fort: It was built in the year 1750 by Thakur Kesari Singh Ji who was the 5th son of Rao Shekhaji, by whose name Shekhawati is known. The fort is famous for its Diwan Khana (Hall of the audience) and Duchatta (Ladies gallery). Since its creation, the fort has always remained with the royal family.
6. Goenka Museum: Seth Arjundas Goenka Haweli, built in 1875, was restored and converted into a museum. Life-size clay figures and the old artifacts depict the life inside a merchant house in the 19th century. A scenario from the living room depicts the merchant, customers, and punkha-walla, who manned the ceiling fans. An interesting fact is that punkha-walla used to be deaf and dumb to ensure that business talks stay secret.
7. Visiting Local Artisans: Rajasthan has many artisans who create marvels from various art forms such as patchwork, miniature wood carving, pottery, block printing, lac bangles, etc. We will visit these artisans to understand how their generations have been associated with one single craft and how it brings livelihood to them. If time permits, we can also try our hands on some of those skills.
8. Sunset at Sethani ka Johra: Sethani ka Johra is a water reservoir having fascinating cenotaphs. It’s a perfect place to enjoy some quietude while listening to the tweet of birds flocking here and there. Sunset observed from here is truly beautiful.
9. Visiting the school for differently abled: A special school in Churu was started by a mother to a special child. The school aims to train these kids with all the skills needed to make them independent. We will visit the school to have a little interacted with them facilitated by the school principal to bring a few smiles on our faces.
Depart from Delhi in a Tempo Traveler at 6 AM
Short Halt for Breakfast
Reach Mandawa around 1 PM
Mandawa Heritage Walk
Havelis of Ramgarh
Poddar Group of cenotaphs
Churu Heritage Walk
Visiting School for special kids
Visit local artisans
Sethani ka Johra for sunset
Podar Haveli & Museum
Start driving back to Delhi
Ex – Delhi
The group size will be limited to a maximum of 16 people: 14 participants + 1 facilitator and a minimum of 5 people: 4 participants + 1 facilitator
• 60 days before the trip: 90% refund
• 60-41 days before the trip: 70% refund
• 40-21 days before the trip: 50% refund
• 20-11 days before the trip: 30% refund
• 10-5 days before the trip: 10% refund
• Less than 5 days before the trip: No Refund
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