This is a semi desert region in north Rajasthan and it is situated entirely in the triangle between Delhi-Bikaner-Jaipur. Shekhawati is a region and not just a town or fort; it takes its name after its ruler Rao Shekha. Shekhawati means the garden of Shekha.
History of Shekhawati in Rajasthan, India
The towns of Shekhawati are eminent for their amazing painted havelis. Such is the appeal of the havelis that this region is dubbed as "open art gallery of Rajasthan". The plethora of painted Havelis in rich artistic tradition makes it commendable and fascinating. Most of the buildings are dated from 18th century to early 20th century. The Shekhawati landscape is dotted with so many havelis that tracking them is something like a treasure hunt. Various forms of fine art adorn the walls and the ceilings of these structures, complimenting the otherwise flat and barren land. The havelis are noted for their frescos depicting mythological themes and that of huge animals. Some later day frescos shows the arrival of the British and highlighting steam locomotives and train doubtlessly for the benefit of those members of the household who did not travel to distance places by train or see this newly introduced mode of transport.
There are also forts, minor castles, mosques, wells called baoris and chattris to discover. The Rajputs mostly depicted the themes of historical events, personages' folk-heroes and the prominent war scenes, while the Marwaris concentrated more on religious themes but with the passage of time the themes too began to divert towards the modern views.
Many historians have considered this region included in the Matsya Kingdom. Rigveda also provides certain evidences in this matter. Manusmriti has called this land as ‘brahmrishi desha’. Shekhawati region was included in ‘marukantar desha’ up to Ramayana period. Out of 16 mahajanapadas prior to Buddha, only two janapadas, namely Avanti and the Kingdom of Virata were counted in Rajasthan area. This region was also influenced by Avanti but later on Nandas of Magadha defeated Avanti. Historians believe that Mauryas obtained the Rajasthan from Nandas.
In ancient times Shekhawati was not limited to present two districts only but during the Mahabharata period it was known as Matsya Kingdom extending up to Saraswati River. This was due to the fact that the first clan ruling this region, in the Mahabharata period, were descendants of fishermen. So the Vedas were supposed to be written and compiled on this very land. During ancient times this region was divided into several janapadas. Every janapada was a free republic state. The development of janapadas in Rajasthan started with habitation of Aryan.
The northern part of Rajasthan was known as Jangladesh (Bikaner and Nagaur) during Mahabharata period and eastern part Jaipur-Alwar were called the Matsya Kingdom. Pandavas had spent one year of their vanishment in this Kingdom of Virata as their abode, to live in anonymity, after the expiry of their twelve-year long forest life. According to Vimal Charanlal, this Kingdom of Virata extended from Jhunjhunu to Kotkasim 109 km in the north, Jhunjhunu to Ajmer 184 km in the west, Ajmer to Banas and up to confluence of Chambal River 229 km in the south. The capital of this Kingdom of Virata was Bairat.
After the collapse of Gupta dynasty, Shekhawati’s some parts like Jhunjhunu, Fatehpur, Narhar were controlled by the Kaimkhanis, until they were defeated by Shekhawat Rajputs.
Kaimkhani is a branch emerged from Chauhans. The first progenitor of Kaimkhanis was Karamchand, born in the family of Moterao of Chauhan clan, the ruler of Dadrewa. Firuz Shah Tughluq converted him to Islam and named him Kaimkhan. Thus his descendants were called Kaimkhani.
Laxmangarh fort of SikarShekhawati was established by Shekhawat Rajputs and it was ruled by them till India’s Independence. Rao Shekha Ji from Dhundhar established his own independent kingdom with the capital at Amarsar; he was the first independent Ruler. After him Rao Raimal, Rao Suja and Rao Lunkaran become the rulers of Amarsar. Rao Manohar succeeded his father Rao Lunkaran and founded Manoharpur later renamed Shahpura (The present ruler of Shahpura is the Tikai of Shekhawat subclan). Shekhawats conquered the Jhunjhunu, Fatehpur, Narhar of Kaimkhanis and established their rule on them.
Shekhawati was the largest Nizamat of Jaipur State, almost the whole of which is occupied by Shekhawats. The Shekhawat chieftains of the region retained a nominal loyalty to the Kachwaha Rajput’s capital state of Jaipur, who in turn honoured them with the hereditary title known as Tazimi Sirdars. The Rulers of the Shekhawati’s Thikanas were the Shekhawat sub clan of Kachwaha Dynasty of Jaipur Princely State. Shekhawats was the most prominent among all the Kachawas of Jaipur.
Shekhawats were brave Rajputs; they established many Thikanas, towns and villages in Shekhawati and built many Forts, Castles, palaces and Havelis.
Tourist Attractions of Shekhawati in Rajasthan, India
All Shekhawats built many magnificent forts in their Thikanas. Every Thikana in Shekhawati is the site of the Fort and Shekhawati was richest and the most happening place, thus Shekhawati has more than 50 forts and Palaces built by Shekhawat Rajas. Many of them are hotels nowadays.
Mandawa Fort of Shekhawati in Rajasthan, India
The Mandawa Fort in Rajasthan was founded by Thakur Nawal Singh Bahadur in 1755. The legendary Castle Mandawa takes you back to the grandeur of its royal past. The Fort has now been converted into a heritage hotel that portrays a medieval image but has all modern facilities. The Fort has a painted archway that has illustrations depicting the Hindu mythology. The rooms of the Mandawa Fort are decorated with intricate mirror work and beautiful paintings. In the zenana or women's quarters, various rooms offer different flavor. One room has antique murals, another has a marble fountain, while the turret room boasts of walls that are 7 feet thick. Diwankhana, the formal drawing room is decorated with family portraits and an array of antique Armour. The Mandawa Fort of Rajasthan is truly worth seeing when visiting India. The fort also has an open terrace, which offers a stunning view of the town.
There are many havelis around the Mandawa Fort that are built in the typical Rajasthani style. There is the splendid Hanuman Prasad Goenka Haveli, which has a magnificent depiction of Lord Indra on an elephant back. The Haveli has huge gates that open up to the Haveli that stuns everyone who visits the place. The front of the Haveli is decorated with images of elephants and horses in a grand and regal style.
The Murmuria Haveli has a splendid image of Jawaharlal Nehru on a horseback. There is the famous Jhunjhunwala Haveli that has a room painted with gold leaves. Other well-known havelis in Mandawa are Binsidhar Newatia Haveli, Lakshmi Narayana Ladia Haveli, Gulab Rai Ladia Haveli and Chokhani Double Haveli. All these havelis are beautifully decorated and each has its own distinct style. They provide a glimpse of the regal life led by the natives of Rajasthan.
Mandawa is said to have the best murals of all. Most of these murals depict local legends and mythological characters. The most famous themes were portraits, animals, game hunting, fighting scenes, etc. With the advent of British Rule in India, themes changed to English men in hunting attires, royal cars, trains, telephones, gramophones, and portraits of the haveli owners dressed flawlessly, etc.
The nearest airport is at Jaipur at a distance of 168 kilometers. The nearest railway station is at Jhunjhunu and the place can also be reached via a number of roads and highways.
Dundlod Fort of Shekhawati in Rajasthan, India
The Fort of Dundlod is an embodiment of cultural amalgamation of Rajputana and Mughal School of Art and Architecture. The village of Dundlod lies in the heart of Shekhawati. The family of Dundlod is the descendants of Kesari Singh, the fifth son of Sardhul Singh. Dundlod castle was built by him in 1750 A.D. After having travelled through sandy tracks of Shekhawati, one enters the village of Dundlod, to see the magnificent sight of the beautifully painted havelies of the Goenkas and the towering Fort which stands in the middle of the village.
Its motif of flowers and foliage, minarets, mythological paintings, archaic furniture, wall hangings of arrows and shields have remained unchanged since hoary past. Here commercialism of artificial world could not slip in. Staying in Dundlod Fort is almost like living through the days of James Tod who described the splendors of Rajasthan. On every dawn the first ray of the sun befalls over the fort as an eternal bliss to the land of mystique and charisma.
As you enter the imposing Suraj Pole gateway of the fort, you feel you have stepped into an era of bygones times, you then proceed to the Bichla Darwaza and turn into the main courtyard of the fort from the Uttar Pole to face the steps which lead you to the majestic Diwan Khana. While you enter the Fort the "Royal Salute" awaits you. For your ushering Commissionaire with traditional attire of bright colours would pump your imagination to the regency days. Once you step in, you would find traditional decor which encircles you. The colour of the walls, the imperial chairs and tables, miniature paintings are of museological value would sound very current with luxury of today as if two civilizations are thriving together.
You can live here in rooms full of classic atmosphere each having its own History. The rooms are enveloped in Rajputana style where everything is of local origin. If you feel like lazing on the open, terraces and chowks are there in front of each room or you can admire a spectacular view of the painted houses and havelies from the Chateries of the Fort. You can take a walk on the ramparts of the surrounded by a Moat. Retire to your rooms (no two are alike) where you are pampered and made to feel like someone special. Later in the evening enjoy a drink under the open sky and stars in the Rawala while the village dancers entertain and enchant you. The Roof-Top dinner with rustic oil lamps provide a stopover even for a stargazer! The "Ala Carte" cuisine is of great taste prepared by chefs with great care. The bar in Traditional Raj Buggy would make you a curious onlooker even before the drinks are served.
The Diwan Khana is built in Mughal architecture and is furnished with Louis The XIV furniture. It has a magnificent library, with a very rich collection of rare books on Indian History. You also see the family portraits which remind you of the times gone by in history. Above this lies the Duchatta, from where the ladies watched the court ceremonies in purdah. At Dundlod Fort special Horse/ Camel and Jeep safaris are arranged. You could also go for sight seeing atop a camel.
Horse Safaris of Dundlod in Shekhawati of Rajasthan, India
One of the family members conducts excellent tailor made horse safaris into the desert. These are great fun and an absolute heaven for horse lovers. The little known Marwari breed of horses are also bred at the stud farm at Dundlod and this breed is now finding its own place internationally. Easily recognized by the hooked tips of their ears, the Marwari is a tall but broad built horse known for its endurance and stamina. The haveli of Lalchandji Goenka is also a place of historical memory, and is cared by there family who lives in Ahmedabad, Nagpur and mainly in kolkata, Sri Rajesh kumar Goenka ,the great grandson of Sri Lalchand ji is one of the key person of the family, the eldest alive member of family Sri Shiv kumar ji is also legend of there family, Royal Equestrian and Polo Centre is the only horse safari Centre in the Country to be recognized and affiliated with the Equestrian Federation of India. We have to our credit to have hosted National Endurance, Tent Pegging and Indigenous Horse Shows. International Horse Show in Tent Pegging and Invitational 100 km Endurance have also been hosted at Dundlod.
The first ever 100 km National Endurance Gold Medal has been won by the Royal Equestrian and Polo Centre.
They are the largest Marwari horse breeding stud farm in the country and run a Programme for improving the marwari breed under the name of Marwari Bloodlines.
Horse riding safaris are organized all over Rajasthan, some of our most popular routes of the rides are mentioned below:
Dundlod, Mandawa, Mehansar, Alsisar, Badalgarh, Nawalgarh, Lohargal, Danta, Pachar.
Bikaner, Kakku,Nagaur, Khimsar,Osian
Dundlod, Mandawa, Badalgarh, Nawalgarh, Danta, Pachar, Roopangarh, Pushkar
Dhariyawad, Sitamata, Chittorgarh, Bijapur
HERITAGE FORT & PALACES
Dundlod, Mandawa, Badalgarh, Nawalgarh, Danta, Kuchaman, Roopangarh, Pushkar
MARWAR-MEWAR CONQUEST ROUTE
Nimaj, Raipur, Devgarh, Narlai, Kumbhalgarh
Bikaner, Mukam, Tal Chapar, Ratangarh, Churu, Badalgarh, Dundlod
Rohet, Sardar Samand, Sodawas, Kotri, Ranakpur, Ghanerao, Kumbhalgarh.
JODHPUR - UDAIPUR
Khejarla, Chandelao, Sardar Samand, Dhamli, Narlai, Ranakpur, Kumbhalgarh
ARAVALI - SHEKHAWATI
Khetri, Udaipurwati, Shakambari, Lohargal, Khirod, Dundlod Khetri, Badalgarh, Mandawa, Nawalgarh, Dundlod
Roop Niwas Kothi of Shekhawati in Rajasthan, India
Roop Niwas Kothi (Palace), established as a large country house by Rawal Madan Singh (former ruler of Nawalgarh). Popularly known as “Rawal Sab Ki Kothi” in Nawalgarh, Roop Niwas Kothi sits on over 100 acres lovingly Royal Residence. The facade is painted in charming ochre that lends it dignity. Roop Niwas Kothi with its imposing but delicately carved exterior and simple yet comfortable interiors is a genuine heritage edifice in a sylvan setting. The villa, reminiscent of the romance of the bygone era, has been converted into a hotel. The stables at Roop Niwas Kothi (Palace) have 32 well bred and schooled horses and 6 camels and horse / camel safaris can be organized with Roop Niwas Kothi (Palace), Nawalgarh (Shekhawati) Rajasthan as the base.
Mukundgarh Fort of Shekhawati in Rajasthan, India
The Mukundgarh Fort located in the Mukundgarh village in the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan; North India was constructed during the early 18th century by a local Rajput ruler, Raja Mukund Singh. The entire fort is spread over a land area of 2 acres and is a massive fortress that reflects the ancient charm and glory of the ancient Rajputs. It has several courtyards, overhanging balconies, arched windows and corridors displaying the richness, diversity and tradition of Shekhawati wall paintings.
This heritage hotel located in the Shekhawati region in Rajasthan, North India is a storehouse of antique furniture and wall paintings. The Mukundgarh Fort is known for its captivating courtyards, halls, balconies and arches. All the 45 rooms at the Mukundgarh heritage hotel are lavishly decorated with antique furniture and are replete with all the basic facilities.
Apart from all the facilities that this lovely heritage hotel located in the Mukundgarh village offers there is a shopping arcade, a swimming pool and other facilities for recreation. There is a lovely handicrafts market in Mukundgarh that you may visit during your stay at the Mukundgarh Fort heritage hotel in Mukundgarh in the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan, North India. We can also arrange for you to go on camel, jeep or horse safaris to the nearby places of tourist interest in the Shekhawati region in Rajasthan, North India.
Narain Niwas Castle of Shekhawati in Rajasthan, India
Narain Niwas Castle (Mahansar Fort), built in 1768 by Thakur Nahar Singh, with an imposing entrance, and reached by flight of stairs it also has its richest horde of wall paintings. Narayan Niwas Castle in Shekhawati is just perfect for a stay. Room amenities include attached bathroom with modern bath accessories and all other facilities that you would love availing during a stay. The efficient staff of the hotel is always at your service taking care of all your accommodation requirements. Gorge upon Indian, Chinese, Continental and Indian cuisine served at the restaurant of Narayan Niwas Castle in Shekhawati. Do try feasting on the traditional Rajasthani cuisine served at the restaurant of Narayan Niwas Castle in Shekhawati. You are sure to leave asking for more once having a meal at the delightful restaurant located at Narayan Niwas Castle in Shekhawati. It is located at a distance of about 20 kms from the bus stand and 40 kms from the railway station and 180 kms from the airport. Some of the facilities available at Narayan Niwas Castle in Shekhawati include Laundry, Car Rentals, Camel Safaris, Horse Safaris, Spacious Car Parking, Travel Desk, Money Exchange and round the clock room service. Guests can also request he hotel authorities to arrange for sightseeing tours at Narayan Niwas Castle in Shekhawati.
Castle Pachar of Shekhawati in Rajasthan, India
The history of the house of Pachar goes back to the Surya dynasty when Raja Kusha was born. He was the younger son of Lord Rama. Of the same dynasty Thakur Bhim Singh Ji was awarded the Jageer of Pachar during the year 1702.
The foundation of Castle of Pachar was laid by Thakur Guman Singh during the year 1725. Later on one of his descendants Thakur Gopal Singh felt the necessity of a separate 'Kacheri' (court) and started its construction during 1830 which was continued by his son Thakur Kalyan Singh who added two mahals [ Royal apartments ] but due to his untimely death the task was left incomplete. Years later in 1930, Late Thakur Ganpat Singh converted the Kachery complex into "Rawla" [ladies quarters] for their residential purpose. As the time changed, his two sons, Thakur Shiv Nath Singh and Thakur Surendra Singh, have now opened the Rawla into a heritage hotel since 1994 known as "Castle Pachar". The Rang Mahal is the main attraction of the castle, colourfully decorated with family portraits, paintings, arms and comfortable furniture. This is one place the guest will never tire of. It is a three tier affair, the large hall, the elevated sitout and a further elevated portion that houses family temple. The pillars add a distinct charm. Accommodation is available in the Rawla which is 'Royal suites', Suites and Deluxe Rooms. Rooms have been planned for basic comfort keeping an ethnic touch. All the rooms are different; some have pillared divisions and have jharokhas [balconies].
Arooka Castle of Shekhawati in Rajasthan, India
The Arooka Castle was founded by Thakur Fateh Singhji in the year 1831 A.D. who was the descendent of Thakur Shardul Singhji, who defeated Nawabs of Jhunjhunu. The Castle is entered through an enchanting gateway and has courtyards and towers. In the vicinity of Arooka Castle there are numerous places such as village Kajara, Chirawa, Pillani, nice painted Havelis of erstwhile traders of Indian merchants could be seen. Present Thakur Raghuveer Singh of Arooka shall be your host. It is 195 kms from Delhi , 214 kms from Jaipurand 270 kms from Bikaner. Arrangements are made to show you the painted Havelis of Birla., Dalmia , Kakarania, Poddar and Khetan in nearby places such as Bagar, Chirawa, Pillani and Surajgarh which are located in the vicinity of 15 kms radius. Camel ride is arranged on request. Horse and jeep safaries are also available.The other facilities include Swimming pool, tennis and badminton courts.
Haveli in Mandawa of Shekhawati Region in Rajasthan, India
The culture of Shekhawati was influenced very much by the culture of neighbouring Marwar. The Marwaris from Marwar was the influential business community in the Shekawati region, and they prospered until the beginning of the 19th century, because of the caravan routes that crossed the area to reach the ports of Gujarat. But from 1820 onwards, many left their families behind and migrated to Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras, which were gaining importance as main trade centers. There they had great financial success. The descendants of these rich merchants have permanently settled down in the towns where their ancestors immigrated. The Shekhawati region has produced large number of Marwaris who are controlling the economy of India. About 80 percent of big industrial houses are managed by Marwaris. India's richest industrialists of the century, such as the Birlas, are Marwaris. Today, the main trading and industrial houses of India have their roots in Shekhawati.
Between 1830 and 1930, they erected buildings in their homeland, Shekhawati, as evidence of their success. As the ultimate symbol of their opulence, the Marwaris commissioned artists to paint those buildings. Therefore, in Shekhawati first of all, Frescoes were introduced by Shekhawat Rajputs in their Forts. The towns of Shekhawati region are known for their painted havelis. This region has been recognized as the "open art gallery of Rajasthan" having the largest concentration of frescos in the world. Most of the buildings of the Shekhawati region were constructed during 18th century to early 20th century. During the British occupation, traders adapted this style for their new buildings. The havelis are noted for their frescos depicting mythological and historical themes. The frescos include images of gods, goddesses, animals, life history of Lords Rama and Krishna, profusely painted on the havelis in this region.
Marwaris have played an important role in the development of Shekhawati region. Their major contribution to the Shekhawati region is in the field of education. Marwaris have also played a leading role in Indian Independence Movement. They provided financial help in running the freedom movement.
Some of the famous Marwari industrial houses are as follows: Bagari, Bajaj, Birla, Chandgothia, Dalmia, Didwania, Ganeriwal, Goyanka, Jaipuria, Jaju, Jalan, Jhujhunuwala, Kanoria, Khetan, Kothari, Lohia, Mittal, Modi, Murarka, Parasrampuria, Poddar, Ruia, Rungta, Singhania, Agrawal/Agarwal, Sarda/ Sharda, Sanghi, Somani, Sudrania, Surana, Dujodwala,
Fairs and Festivals of Shekhawati in Rajasthan, India
Gangaur of Shekhawati in Rajasthan, India
Gangaur is a significant festival of Rajasthan, especially meant for the women. Gangaur festival is widely acclaimed and celebrated throughout the state of Rajasthan. The word Gangaur is derived from two words, 'Gan' and 'Gauri' which are synonyms of 'Siva' and his consort 'Parvati' respectively. Gangaur is celebrated in the honor of Goddess Gauri, who is considered as the symbol of virtue, devotion, fertility and a perfect married woman. Gangaur celebrates the union of the two and is a symbol of conjugal and marital happiness.
Gangaur is celebrated in the month of chaitra (March-April), the first month of the Hindu calendar. This month marks the end of winter and the onset of spring. The festival of Gangaur starts with the subsequent day of Holi and persists for about 2 weeks.
The womenfolk of Rajasthan worship Gauri with all the means of devotion. The married women worship Gauri for the well-being of their husband, while the unmarried girls worship the goddess to get the husband of their choice. This is also an auspicious day for young people to select their life partners. A newly-wedded girl observes a fast for the full course of 18 days of the festival that succeeds her marriage. Even unmarried girls fast and eat only one meal a day. Colourful processions with the town band playing horses and elaborate palanquins make it a fascinating spectacle. This worship which starts form the first day of the chaitra month culminates on the 18th day into Gangaur festival with a great religious fervor. The festival begins with the custom of gathering ashes from the Holi Fire and burying the seeds of barley in it. After it, the seeds are watered everyday awaiting the germination.
The ceremony takes place with the praiseful songs for Isar (Siva) and Gauri. The women apply henna on their hands to celebrate the auspicious festival. They carry painted matkas (water pots) on their heads. They also make images of Gauri and Isar with clay. During the last days of the festival, the celebration reaches to its height. On the final day, lively images of Gauri are taken out in procession escorted by traditionally dressed camels, bullock carts, horses and elephants. Songs are sung about the departure of Gauri to her husband's home.
Teej of Shekhawati in Rajasthan, India
Teej Festival is one of the most popular festivals of India. Teej festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm and devotion by the women in India. Since Teej fall at the outbreak of the monsoons, it is also popularly known as the 'Sawan Festival'. Teej is usually celebrated in the month of July-August. Festival of Teej is dedicated to the divine couple - Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Though Teej is celebrated at various places in India and abroad, major Teej celebrations take place in the highly cultural city of Jaipur. Here day-long processions and celebrations create a vivid atmosphere.