Holi in Shekhawati is indeed unique, traditional and heart-warming. In Mandawa town of Shekhawati, you will find people of all religions coming together on streets for the love of oneness and dancing to the traditional beats, forgetting all their communal differences. Women peeping from their veils, dancing men with their colorful turbans, and the stalls of bhang can be found in any street of Mandawa. A few dancing men can be seen cross-dressed i.e. men dressed as women while celebrating Holi in Shekhawati. This unusual practice has a great story behind! A great benefit of celebrating Holi in Shekhawati is that you won’t be pushed against random strangers during celebrations as the crowd is less and very-well managed by local authorities.
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 celebrate Holi in the most unique and fun way, unravel the rich and amusing history of this region, and 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. The entire town irrespective of their religion comes together and dance to the local beats in the streets. Holi in Shekhawati is also not a extremely crowded affair or local would not throw any colors on tourists without their permission. We will celebrate it in a manageable manner within our group and 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, 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. Morarka Haweli: Built in 1900 by Shri Jaichandji Morarka, it is one of the best preserved Havelis in Shekhawati. The owners haven’t consciously renovated or re-painted the frescos so that visitors get to experience the taste of originality. One see the murals of birds, animals, flowers, gods, and the various murals telling folktales from local life.
6. Tal Chhapar Wildlife Sanctuary: Tal Chhapar, which used to be the hunting ground of Maharaja of Bikaner, is now a wildlife sanctuary famous for an array of flora and fauna. We can spot a wide variety of birds, black bucks, antelopes, burrowing rodents, etc. It’s also a nice place to be far away from the hustle-bustle of cities and just be close to the nature because the loudest sound one might hear is the chirping of birds inside the sanctuary which won’t be less than a brain spa for us.
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. Camel Ride and Sunset in Desert: A visit to Rajasthan is incomplete without visiting desert, right? We will visit the desert area near Mandawa where particpants will be given an option to do a camel ride. Not to mention that witnessing the sun going down and seeing the sky turning reddish against the yellow color of sand is captivating.
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 interaction with them facilitated by the school principal to bring a few smiles on our faces. Please note during our visit to the school, no one is expected to or put in moral guilt to donate. If you wish, you can go to school authorities and do that on your own. The entire purpose of putting this visit in the plan is to be more aware about the local initiatives for social good, and interact with kids to raise their confidence.
10. Traditional Dinner and Bonfire: Stay excited for this part!
Depart from Delhi in a Tempo Traveler at 6 AM
Short Halt for tea
Reach Mandawa around 1 PM
Traditional Rajasthani Dinner with bonfire
Visiting School for special kids
Churu Heritage Walk
Special Tea in Churu Local Market
Tal Chapar Wildlife Sanctuary
Exploring rural life around the sanctuary
Local artisan visit
Sunset and Camel ride in desert
Podar Haveli & Museum
Start driving back to Delhi
Ex – Delhi (starting and ending in Delhi)
9900 INR if registered on/before Feb 20
10900 INR if registered after Feb 20
1. The group size will be limited to a maximum of 16 people: 15 participants + 1 facilitator and a minimum of 5 people: 4 participants + 1 facilitator
2. Please note that for Holi in Shekhawati trip, there will be two pick-up points on March 21:
a. 6.00 AM: Hotel Radisson Blu Plaza Delhi Airport (near Mahipalpur)
b. 6.20 AM: IFFCO Chowk Metro Station in Gurgaon
Participants are requested to arrive 15 min prior to the pick-up point.
3. We are expected to reach back to Delhi on March 24 at around 9.30 PM. However, we cannot guarantee the exact time of arrival. Please book your onward journey accordingly.
• 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
You need to follow these terms and conditions while traveling with Transforming Travels.