5 centuries ago Rao Shekhaji, the grandson of Maharaja Udaikaran of Amer, left Amer to establish his own independent kingdom. Shekhaji’s descendants are called ‘Shekhawati’s’; hence that’s how the Shekhawati Region got its name.
The ‘Shekhawati Region’ of Rajasthan is not just a destination but kind of an open air art gallery with many historical places that reflects the golden era of the Rajput Gharana. The whole region has historical monuments, magnificent havelis with beautiful frescoes and holds a vivacious culture. You would be left gaping and in wonder at every corner you visit!!
The old havelis have now been renovated and turned into Internationally acclaimed hotels & resorts. These offer impeccable service with age old traditions and offer complete luxury and comfort of today’s lifestyle too. You may choose your own itinerary from desert safari to fresco trails, visit to nearby havelis along with the popular painting walks across the Shekhawati towns.
Bagar, a tiny town in Jhunjhunu district of Rajasthan holds a lovely past in its old havelis most of which are now in ruins. There are some unique old wells that are worth seeing for the 4 minarets surrounding them.
Live the tuscan way at Piramal Haveli. Built in 1928 by Seth Piramal Makharia the haveli seems to be transported right from Italy. This place is really 2 conjoined havelis merged perfectly to form one unit. These were owned by different branches of family so the faced changes in some places. The hotel today is run by the Neemrana Group of hotels and they are taking good care of the place, keeping the original paintings untouched even though they are fading fast. The place has a huge open garden, colonnaded verandah and holds 8 rooms in total. Please don’t miss to stop and see the central ceiling panel, which is a mélange of artistic influences: a distinctly Hindu sun god drawing a chariot of seven horses, circled by 17 cherubic Cupids!
Mandawa is the hub of Rajput Art and the town has gorgeous frescoes at every nook and corner.
Hotel Castle Mandawa (earlier known as Mandawa Fort)
One of the finest places to stay in Mandawa where you can feel the opulent ways the royals stayed. Built in 1755, this fortress has sweeping turrets and an imposing façade. The Garden Restuarant inside the castle offers a delicious buffet offering Indian & continental cuisine. Do enjoy the traditional folk music and fire-tricks! (600/- Per Person)
Vivaana is a meticulously restored 19th century Shekhawati Haveli, featuring luxuriously decorated rooms and suites. Both the exterior and interior boast of superb and rare artifacts and frescos. The over a century old haveli has been lovingly restored and renovated into the Heritage Hotel.
Royal Room: Rs.12,000/-
Luxury Room: Rs.10,000/-
Deluxe Room: Rs.7,000/-
This resort was created by Thakur Kesri Singh in 1985 and is a green oasis in the middle of the desert landscape. Made with mud architecture, the place captures the style and outlook of a typical Rajasthani village and reflects traditional harmony between man and nature. Fell aesthetic charm of the rural without compromising on luxury or comfort.
Constructed in 1755 by Thakur Nawal Singh, the polace is now converted into a heritage hotel that offers the royal charm of the bygone era. The hotel is beautifully decorated with family portraits and a wide range of traditional armor. It is a 2 storey haveli painfully restored to its lost glory has the beautiful frescoes covering all its walls and high ceilings.
Tariff: 1700/- approx
The Jai Niwas Resort
Built in 1930’s by Thakur Jai Singh for the Mandawa family, this place was used as a club house. The resort has a colonial feel to it and with 8 independent cottages, it’s a good place to unwind.
Nawalgarh is a dusty old town still living the way it did back 100 years ago is just a few kilometres drive from the popular town of Mandawa. But this little town has over 200 houses worth viewing for their intricate paintings and murals. Every by-lane opens up to as new discovery. Most of these depict mythological scenes from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata and also show the life of Lord Krishna.
The city of Nawalgarh was founded in 1737 AD by Nawalsingh, the 4th of 5 brothers. Nawalgarh was founded on an existing village of kaimkhanis and is one of the heritage cities in Rajasthan.
Kamal Morarka Haveli: Build in 1900, this haveli has lovely mirror work and massively carved wooden gates that open onto the courtyard. It is the only haveli in this region having paintings of Jesus Christ. There are also frescoes and paintings depicting the royal processions and folk heroes.
Poddar Haveli Museum:
This haveli was built in 1902 and has now converted into a museum holding fine decorative Shekhawati art and culture. There are over 750 frecoes to gaze and most of which cover Indian mytholody among festivals like teej, gangaur etc.
Chokhani Haveli: This haveli is inhabited and that’s what makes it a must visit. Built in the early 19th century by the prosperous merchants of Mandawa ‘The Chokhanis’, the haveli was their residence. This place has some of the best frescos in the Mandawa city and the predominant colors that rule the frescoes are golden, yellow, blue, maroon, green, etc.
If you have time at hand, also visit the other popular havelis in the area such as the Hanuman Prasad Goenka Haveli, Goenka Double Haveli, Jhunjhunwala Haveli, Murmuria Haveli, Gulab Rai Ladia Haveli and Mohan Lal Saraf Haveli.
A battle hardened palace located in the town of Alsisar, approx. 25 kms from Mandawa. Alsisar Mahal was the residence of the Thakur of Alsisar and now being renovated into a luxurious heritage hotel. Alsisar is famous for castles, Havelis and Cenotaphs that each speak about the glorious past of Shekhawati Region.
Tariff: 4600 – 5500/-
Roop Niwas Kothi This was an erstwhile hunting resort, now converted into a ‘back-to-nature’ villa set amidst bajra and sarson fields. It has its own in-house horse stables and the hallways are studded with game heads and sephia toned pictures of the hunters from the royal families and local folks. It has 25 rooms to choose from.
Hotel Sara Villas Tariff 3500/-
Hotel Dundlod Fort Tariff: 2200-4000/-
This 2 story hotel is a budget Hotel that has a 100 years of history. Build by the Mandawa rulers for their Musician family, this hotel adorns beautiful frescoes and the stay itself would make you feel like living in the Rajputana style.
Hotel Rath Mandawa Tariff: 1200/- Contact: 01592-223140
- Monica Rooftop Hotel, Mandawa Market
- Bungli Restaurant, Goenka Chowk, Mandawa
- Do Drink Phool: a local specialty made with crushed ice, Rasna, Rose syrup and Salt
- There is a new Cafe opened by the name of Boom Shiva… not sure about the location so the locals might guide you.
- Hotel Shahi Palace offers fine dining at budget costs. Accomodation also offered. Visit the website for details.
- Paawana Restaurant and Bungli Restaurant also have good local food with a neat ambience.
Don’t forget to ride on colourful and different styled ‘Tuk-Tuk’ while you move around the area. Shekhawati region is famous for its lac (lacquer) bangles that are handmade and hand painted in beautiful colors with intricate designs or simple tones and are perfect souvenirs to carry back home. There are also traditional bandhej sarees, silverware items and of course the popular dancing puppets to choose from. There are quite a few curio and art shops selling local handicrafts, carved wooden chests and even miniature paintings.
Sightseeing Nearby places: Visit Dundlod, around 30 km from Mandawa, well known for its fort and havelis. Apart from the Dundlod fort and palace, you can see the Jagathia Haveli, Satyanarayan Temple and Tuganram Goenka Haveli.
Visiting the Shekhawati region is a unique experience and one that would leave you wanting to explore more on your returns.
Please visit the following blogs to view some interesting photographs from Mandawa and nearby places and learn a bit more about this incredible place.
The Painted Havelis of Shekhawati by Snigdha Sharma in Outlook Traveller.
- Distance from New Delhi: 255 kms (5.3 Hours)
- Distance from Gurgaon: 225 kms (4.5 Hours)
- Distance from Jaipur: 175 kms (3 Hours)
- Distance from Jodhpur: 342 kms (6.5 Hours)
- Distance from Agra: 405 kms (7 Hours)
Eating Option en-route: Rahul Dev’s sweet shop near narnaul offers rasmalai and freshly made pedas and Choudhary ka Dhaba: Located between Rewari and Narnaul place offers over-stuffed paranthas and dahi at nominal prices.