Talk about Rajasthan and the very first thing which creeps into our mind are the majestic monuments of the Pink City – Jaipur, the grandeur palaces of the Sun City – Jodhpur, the museums and deserts of the Golden City – Jaiselmar, the forts of Bikaner, lakes of Udaipur (Venice of India), shrine in Ajmer and the gorgeous Mount Abu. Mainly because, either we have read about them, visited these places or have seen the ads by travel agents/websites/travelers raving about Rajasthan’s royal and pride in these amazing places. However, the one place that everyone misses out is the glittering painted “Shekhawati” province.
Never heard about it, hmm? Well, even I was unaware of this beautiful dreamscape until one of the adventure site and my client, Shoes On Loose, introduced me to this magnificent region tucked in the lovely golden deserts of Rajasthan, sited right in the Jaipur-Bikaner-Delhi triangle.
Let’s take a look into this imperial town right here through my eyes. Ready? Here, we go!
Visualize a semi parched dreamscape of dazzling fields as well as plethora of splendid Havelis wrapped up in authentic frescos (mural paintings on wall). Picture it to be so mesmerizing in fine art and culture that it can be given the sobriquet of world’s biggest open art gallery. That’s precisely “Shekhawati”, the land of the Havellis and the frescos.
Engulfed by the Aravalli mountain ranges, the allure of this rock-strewn barricade comes as a shocker in this plain and arid landscape which is sprinkled with picturesque dunes and vivacious magnificent Havelis constructed in a unique architectural style in between 18th and 19th century by the Marwaris, India’s rich mercantile community. The Shekhawati wall paintings and arts are influenced from the Persians, the Mughals and the local people. It exhibits collection of themes from everyday life to hunting and mythology. You’ll be delighted to explore such a wonderful place in the state of Rajasthan. No wonder, you’ll be glad to witness right in the front of your eyes. Simply mesmerizing! The radiance of this place can be witnessed by stopping over at the Morarka Haveli Museum, Dr. Ramnath A Podar Haveli Museum and the beautiful Haveli Nadine Prince.
Not just man made wonders and beauty, in Shekhawati, you’ll also get to picture the Black Bucks at the Tal Chapar Sanctuary aka Black Bucks Park. Besides, black bucks there are many species to be looked at which you have never seen before or would like to witness such as the Eastern Imperial Eagle, Demoiselle Cranes and Desert Fox along with various other rare flora and fauna.
Even those who aren’t a photo fanatic will like to go behind the lenses when then entire the premises of Shekhawati to catch a glimpse of both the natural as well as the man made beauty of this marvelous province.
Mandawa, the decorated town and tourist capital of Shekhawati made me fall in love with her. The organic royal lunch, the painted Havelis of Gulab Rai Ladia, Snehiram Ladia and Mohanlal Saraf along with a nice time in the colorful bazaars of the frescoed town, made me a traveler photographer by default. While wandering in the market I learnt their dialect, “Kai kar reya ho?” which means what are you doing J. Mandawa also gives you a camel ride, if you are interested. Not me, I have a phobia that perhaps I’ll fall down :O. Lately, Mandawa was in news for the shooting of Raj Kumar Hiran’s PK which stars Aamir Khan and Sanjay Dutt.
Dundlod fort is surely not to be missed while venturing out in the province to witness the marvelous art and architecture of the royal Rajasthan and for some ancient monuments, the Ramgarh area is definitely a must visit.
With so many temples, havellis, forts wrapped up in mural paintings with amicable locals and exceptionally great rural Food, the dal batti churma (yummy), and a wildlife safari, Shekhawati was really a delight not only for photographers but also for travelers, explorers, architects, biologists, naturalist and to my surprise even the metropolitan lovers living in the Europe.
And why not…..
Because a trip to Shekhawati (150 km from Jaipur) is ought to bowl you over with its long-gone era, terrific heritage of art, effervescent mansions and of course its untouched natural beauty, making you witness the marvelous canvas of the natural world through the lenses of this haven!