The only reason a traveller visits the Shekhawati region, besides relaxing in a heritage resort or riding a horse, is to go for frescoes hunt. The whole terrain is a huge treasure comprises of paintings and colourful murals.
'Shekhawati', meaning "the land of Shekha's clan" derives its name from Rao Shekha (1433 AD-1488 AD) a scion of the Kachhwaha family of Jaipur. Earlier a part of the former Jaipur state, it now comprises of the districts of Jhunjhunu and Sikar. As you travel more closer you will see seven princes, stuck forever on a wall, holding identical swords and look grim, perhaps because they have been standing like this for over 60 years. Welcome to the magical land of Shekhawati, the only place in India where the walls have always been used as a canvas, where paintings speak more than locals itself. turning Shekhawati into a huge open-air art gallery that delight every connoisseur of art who come here for a holiday vacation. Today, the Shekhawati region encompasses within its boundaries some extremely valuable cultural and historical heritage that should be visited before it gets lost in the dust of time. Below are mentioned some of these places - some will sound familiar while others alien. Yet, do not make any judgement based on 'familiarity' since even the remotest of the Shekhawati destination might spring up a surprise not seen elsewhere in the region.
Famous Shekhawati Places:
Nawalgarh: - Named after its founder Thakur Nawal Singh (son of the most successful ruler of Shekhawati, Shardul Singh), Nawalgarh was a prosperous town in Shekhawati region. Some of the affluent business clan of India today trace their origin from Nawalgarh. Prominent among these is the Goenka family. The havelis of the town - Aath haveli, Murarka Haveli, Khedwal Bhawan, Bhagton ki Haveli and Anandi Lal Poddar Haveli - are its prime attraction. The frescoes and mural paintings are extremely attractive and reflect the skills of the workmen who created them. Other attraction of Nawalgarh is Ganga Mai Temple.
Dundlod: - A small village in the Shekhawati region is known for a small fort built in the 18th century by Kesri Singh, youngest son of Sardul Singh. The fort has a Diwan Khana with portraits and period furnitures as well as a small library. The fort now serves as a hotel. Other attractions to be visited here are Tuganram Goenka Haveli, SatyaNarayan Temple and Jagathia Haveli. This village is 7 kms north of Nawalgarh.
Fatehpur: - Established by Fateh Khan, a Muslim Nawab in 15th century, Fatehpur was captured by the Shekhawat Rajputs in the 18th century. The place boasts of some of the best fresco paintings of the region, however, unfortunately, the havelis housing them are more often locked. The worth seeing havelis in this place are Geori Shankar Haveli, Mahavir Prasad Goenka Haveli, Nand Lal Devra Haveli and Jagannath Singhania Haveli. There is also the Jagannath Singhania Chattri with beautiful garden which is worth visiting.
Ramgarh: - Around 20 km from Fatehpur lies Ramgarh which was founded by a group of affluent Poddar merchant in the 18th century. The primary attraction of the town is Ram Gopal Poddar Chhatri that has beautiful scenes of Ramayana painted on its ceilings. Fresco paintings in Shani Mandir (Saturn Temple) are also eye catchers. Other attraction of the place include Ganga Temple, Ganes Temple, Tarachand Ghanshyamdas Poddar Haveli and Baij Nath Ruia Haveli.
Jhunjhunu: - Currently a district head quarter, Jhunjhunu was founded by Kaimkhani Nawabs in the 15th century. Places worth visiting in this town are Badani Chand Well, Mertani Baori, Ajit Sagar, Dargah of Kamrud-din Shah, Badal Fort, Khetri Mahal, Bihariji Temple, Rani Sati Temple and Forest Ganj. The significant havelis of this place are Modi Haveli, Kaniram Narsingh Das Tiberwala Haveli, MohanDas Ishwar Das Modi Haveli and Narudin Farooqi Haveli.
Bissau: - Nearly 32 km north west of Jhunjhunu is a small town known as Bissau. The town was founded by Kesri Singh and has seen numerous ups and down. Important attractions here include Chhatri of Hammir Singh, Haveli of Girdarilal Sigtia and Motiram Jasraj Sigtia Haveli. The last one today serves as a junior school.
Mahansar: - Around 6 km from Bissau is another small village, Mahansar which was founded by Nawal Singh in the 18th century. The village does not overflows with attractions, yet some of the havelis with their fine paintings are worth visiting. Prominent among these is the Sona ki Dukan Haveli which has exquisite meenakari work to delight the visitors. Sahaj Ram Poddar Chhatri is also worth visiting.
Mandawa: - One of the most visited destinations in the Shekhawati region, Mandawa came into limelight in the 18th century. It has an imposing fort, Castle Mandawa that serves as a heritage hotel today. Other attractions of the town include the havelis of Chokhanias, Goenkas Nevatia & Ladia and Saraf. Parasrampura - The tiny village preserves some of the oldest and most beautiful paintings of the Shekhawati region. The paintings on the inner portion of the dome of Thakur Shardul Singh cenotaph, Shamji Saraf Haveli and Gopinathji Mandir is worth appreciating.
Sikar: - Now a district headquarters, Sikar was once the largest thikana (feudatory) under the Jaipur State. Important attractions here are the havelis of Biyani, Murarka, Somani, Sagarmal Sodhani and Madho Niwas. The Sikar Fort, Jublee Hall, Jain Temples, Gopinath Temple, Raghunath Temple, Jeen Mata Temple and Madan Mohan Temple in and around Sikar are also worth visiting.
Mukudgarh: - Mukundgarh is a small town developed around a temple square. The Mukundgarh Fort serves as a heritage hotel. Tourists can pay a visit to the Kanoria and Ganeriwala Havelis and also shop for local handicrafts. Mukundgarh is highly known for its brass, iron scissors and textiles. Churu - Though Churu does not come in the Shekhawati region strictly, yet its history of traders and caravan outpost connects it with other places in Shekhawati. Place worth visiting here are the Kanhaiya Lal Bagla Haveli, Kothari Haveli, Surana Haveli, Poddar Haveli, Jain Temple, Balaji Temple, Ganga Temple, Taknet Chhatri and not to forget the Churu Fort.
Khetri: - The second richest feudatory of the Jaipur state, Khetri was established in the 18th century. Prominent places worth visiting are Raghunath Temple, Bhopagarh Fort, Panna Lal Sha ka Talab, Ram Krishna Mission, Sukh Mahal and Hari Singh Temple. Pilani - This small village gained prominence as the home of wealthy Birla family. Today, the place is more known for its educational significance. For tourists sightseeing, there is BITS museum, Shiva, Ganga, Sarswati Temple and the Panchwati Temple.
How To Reach
By Air : Jaipur is the nearest airport, 120 km away from shekhawati.
By Rail : Mainline railway joining Delhi, Jaipur, Bikaner crosses Shekhawati.
By Road : Shekhawati is 120 km by road from Jaipur. THis is the most convenient way to tour Shekhawati and surrounding areas.