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Often called the 'open air art gallery of Rajasthan', the region of medieval Shekhawati in northeastern Rajasthan lies in the triangular area between Delhi, Jaipur and Bikaner. Starting around the 14th century, a number of Muslim clans moved into the area and the towns, which developed in the region, became important staging posts on the trading routes emanating from the ports of Gujarat. Riding on the wave of success, local merchants grew wealthy and constructed residences in the form of havelis (mansions) painstakingly internally carved, painted and decorated with frescoes and murals. Most of these buildings date from the 18th to early 19th century.
Most of the villages of Shekhawati have kept their rustic charm intact and an exploratory walk around one or a few of these painted towns can be a wonderful experience.

From outside, many of the havelis (some of which are run-down) look relatively unremarkable. It isn’t until one steps inside through the large fortified doors to the inner courtyard that the full beauty of these unique Rajasthani architectural gems can be appreciated. The major towns of interest in the region are Fatehpur, Nawalgarh, Mandawa, Ramgarh and Jhunjhunu, although virtually every town in the Shekhawati region possesses a few surviving havelis.

Some havelis have been extremely skillfully restored and now serve as guesthouses and hotel complexes. Strolling around some of these small villages also lends charm in that one can see first-hand the village at a local level.

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last updated - 01 Nov 2014 2:09 AM