Shekhawati - Open Air Art Gallery
29th Oct - We took SpiceJet flight to Jaipur but unfortunately could not make it within time due to technical problems and traffic congestion we were made to wait for 3 hrs inside flight. We reached around 22:00 to our pre-booked Hotel Madhuban by prepaid taxi.
On reaching hotel driver says "kya bekar hotel liya hain sir"....ughh. Lump in my throat as all booking was done by me. It was a laborious, monotonous job going through website after website, jotting down details regarding price. With heavy heart went in but found everything as per internet photos only. We asked for next day car-hire for Shekhawati daytrip which they arranged.
30th Oct - Morning 7.00am nice, clean amby was provided to us and we started our day trip towards withering Land of kuber. On way we had hot tasty parantha idly as breakfast from Dhabba. It takes 3hrs to reach that region. On way after talking to our cab driver we made our circuit starting from towns like Fatehpur, Mandawa, Churi-Ajithgarh, Dundlod, and Nawalgarh back to Jaipur.
Shekhawati is world renowned for its painted havelis and paintings, their frescos depicting mythological and historical themes. Actually, when the Marwaris made their first foray with the Maharajahs and Thakurs, they found that there was money to be made from establishing business in distant centres. Under the British their prosperity aspired even higher, and they took their business to Calcutta, mumbai and other pockets of influence. Tradition in those days was whoever made it good would come back and build 4 things-haveli, baoli(well), mandir and dharamshala. With the money they made, they ordered lavish havelis back home and in order to make them attractive had them painted in what has come to be defined as the Shekhawati fresco style. A sense of competitiveness brought in excess, since this provided the worth of the owner's presumed wealth.
Today’s eminent business group Birla, Goenka, Singhania, Poddar are all from Shekhawati region which has now immerged as open art painting gallery well preserving its historical heritage. Havelis are guarded at the entrance by large wooden doors. Within these, a smaller door is normally used for daily movements. Intricate wooden carvings with fancy brass iron fittings demonstrating the owners’ wealth. The ground floor is normally recessed in such a way that balconies overhang the street. It was from the latticed windows on the balconies and over the courtyards that women were able to get a glimpse of the men’s world. The facade, the gateways, the courtyard walls, the parapets and ceilings, were all covered with frescoes.
All these paintings are made with natural colors. For example yellow was also obtained by evaporating the urine of cows fed for ten days on nothing but mango leaves. The resulting paste was rolled into small round ‘gayagolis’ and produced a brilliant yellow when dilated with water.
They used the ‘Fresco Buono’ technique - in this method only a part of the wall was plastered at a time with three layers of very fine clay. Sketches were made on the walls scratching the outshines into the wet plaster with a sharpened stick. It remained without fading for almost as long as the building lasted. A gum made from local plant or a derivative of camel fat was used as the crucial binding agent.At Fatehpur main attraction was Nadine la Prince which is bought and restored by a French artist Nadine. At Mandawa its Castle Mandawa besides Sneh ram ladia ,Gulab rai ladia haveli and JhunJunuwala golden painted haveli, Murmura and Double Goenka haveli (we could not visit as it was closed) at Churi Ajithgarh it’s Sheonarayans haveli at Dundlod its Goenka haveli and at Nawalgarh its Poddar haveli.
TIPS: Best way to visit this regions by own transport but still you need to do a good amount of walking once you reach one particular destination. Hire guide(negotiable) to take you around. No doubt beautiful painting, awesome architecture but one thing is sure at Shekhawati after craning your neck whole day long at end you feel like every other painting is same. After sunset there is no sense to be there as artificial light will be not sufficient enough to see the intricate painting details.
We skipped lunch to cover our itinerary and had very early dinner on way back to Jaipur and by 9.00pm we were at our hotel door.