Summarise the city :
Open air gallery of Rajasthan
Best time to visit (High & peak months) :
Mid October to mid March
Heritage & art in the form of paintings
City calling code :
Mandawa-01592, Fatehpur-01571, Jhunjhunu-01592, Nawalgarh-01594
Recommended no. of days for a tourist :
1-2 days depending on your interest in art
Best buys :
Rajasthani miniature paintings
Essentials to be carried along :
Light cottons for summers and woolens for winters (Nov-Feb), sun blocks and sun glasses
All about the city :
The semi arid triangular region of Shekhawati that lies between Bikaner, Jaipur and Delhi may seem uninteresting in the first look but it is definitely of considerable interest for those who have a taste for art and paintings. Named after a 15th century Rajput Chieftain Rao Shekha, the region was strategically significant as it fell on the caravan route between the Indian state of Gujrat and the countries of Middle East and China. Consequently the feudal principalities of Shekhawati region (Nawalgarh, Fatehpur, Madawa, Ramgarh & Jhunjhunu) served as trading posts and became home to various wealthy merchants. However after the emergence of the ports of Calcutta and Bombay the significance of Gujrat port and consequently Shekhawati area declined. But many of its merchants shifted to the new ports and fared extremely well making huge remittances to their families in Shekhawati. The legacy of these traders in the form of their ornate havelis or residences, they built for themselves, are now major tourist attractions of the place. Most of these havelis are now occupied by a single (chowkidar) caretaker or some local family. You can either wander through these dusty towns or take a camel ride.
The region does not have mighty forts as the other parts of Rajasthan. Come here to see minor forts, havelis & baolis, (mostly built between late 18th and early 20th century) that may not be grand enough to inspire you with awe but attractive enough to elicit praise. All of them are tastefully decorated with mirror work and fresco paintings in which blue and maroon colors dominate. Initially the subject of these paintings included the scenes from every day life of the natives, incarnations of Lord Vishnu, wars and battles but in the later years the interaction with the British and exposure to modern urban trends influenced the themes. Now the pictures of British ladies and gentlemen with hats, motor cars, aero planes, gramophones and telephones became the favorites with the painters.
The best thing here is that besides appreciating the baroque havelis you have an opportunity to make a stay in them as many of them have transformed themselves to cater to the modern day traveler.