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Trip Report Shekhawati : India's Open Art Gallery

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Here's a short account of my short trip to the Shekhawati area last year in August. I highly recommend a visit to Shekhawati, the painted havelis or mansions are absolutely beautiful, the towns are interesting and very old world, plus it's not too far from delhi or jaipur. A detour of a couple of days from the touristy path would be well rewarded.

Here's a blog account with pictures : https://ashwinbahulkar.wordpress.com/travels-from-india/shekhawati-indias-open-art-gallery/

Shekhawati was always on the bucket list, but never imagined I would go there during the summer. I was in Delhi during the month on July for work, and had a free weekend, so I just booked a train ticket to go to Shekhawati! Turned out to be a great idea, I barely spent 2 days, but was totally worth it.

Places I went to: Mahansar, Ramgarh, Fatehpur, all splendid!

Accommodation: Stayed at the Narayan Niwas Castle in Mahansar, can’t recommend it enough. The castle was amazing(it was a real castle), the food was great(home-made, straight from the owner’s kitchen, ask them to make their local specialities), the host were really nice and friendly, the location was good, prices too were good.

I took a train to Churu, got a taxi to take me to Narayan Niwas Castle. My room was pretty awesome, and the views over the terrace of the countryside were great too. The owner set me up with a very knowledgeable local guide who showed me around the havelis in the area. The Poddar Golden haveli is one of it’s kind, and was my favorite one in the entire trip. He also showed me the Tola Ram Ka Kamra and the Raghunath Temple, all very interesting. Afternoons were hot, only to be spent inside.

In the evening we went to Ramgarh, an important town in Shekhawati. A typical dusty old Rajasthani town, very old-world with camels riding and people in turbans and havelis all over, everywhere! We checked out the Singhania/Goenka Havelis, absolutely stuning from the outside. The guide took me one of his secret finds, deep inside a long abandoned dusty haveli, but with wonderful pieces of art. The outside of the havelis were well done as well, with trains and bridges and elephants painted well. We also checked some of the cenotaphs of one of the haveli-families, probably the Poddars. The ladoos at a local haveli were great. Overall, the town left a great impression, but I would just prefer the castle at Mahansar to stay, it’s so calm! Enjoyed a great sunset from the castle walls, had a great local dinner, enjoyed the breeze at night on terrace(which feels great after a hot day) and had a good night’s sleep.

Started the day with a good local crumbled bajra rotla-yoghurt breakfast, took the train to Fatehpur (but I wouldn’t really depend on the train a lot, it gets late). Today was supposed to be another haveli marathon, havelis different and special in their own ways( the rule, you see one,you see all doesn’t apply here). Started with the Devda Haveli, which was good and had good views of the town, next was the Prince Nadine haveli, which was a beautifully restored haveli, you get a good guided tour of the haveli, although touristy, this haveli is certainly worth checking out, the interiors, exteriors all are really well done. There’s another haveli very close to the Prince Nadine, which too is worth checking. The Kedia Haveli close to the bus station was also an interesting one, painted with different colors.

Came back to Mahansar by bus and auto-rickshaw, had another great lunch, got some rest and left for Churu to take my train back to Delhi. There are some interesting havelis in Churu as well, but was too heat sapped to check anything out. While returning to Delhi, the train passed through some interesting Shekhawati countryside, we were caught in a brief sandstorm as well, turning out to be an interesting experience.

So yes, Shekhawati is a brilliant place, I toured only the Churu region, the Nawalgarh region too is on the bucketlist. Was a very satisfying trip, especially the stay at the Narayan Niwas Castle and the guided tour they offered(Rs.1000 for 4-5 hours).

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