During all of my visits to my ancestral haveli in Fatehpur Shekhawati I have always visited and admired various havelis with interesting frescos and carvings. All the havelis in Fatehpur are famous for the beautifully designed, carved, and painted interiors. Fatehpur, in fact, is an important constituent of the Shekhawati region in Rajasthan which is often called “The Open Air Art Gallery”.
Shekhawati is an interesting area of towns of the triangle of Jaipur, Delhi, and Bikaner. This semi-desert region is a colourful fantasy having a fascination uniquely of its own. Shekhawati is the region where the streets are lined with havelis painted in the nature of a vast open-air art gallery.
‘Shekhawati’ meaning ‘the land of Shekha’s clan’ derived its name from Rao Shekha(1433 A.D –1488 A.D) a scion of the Kachhwaha family of Jaipur. Other main towns in this area are Jhunjhunu, Ramgarh, Nawalgarh, and Mandawa.
Shekhawati’s magnificent havelis entirely changed the monochromatic appearance of the region. The highlight of the havelis, the frescoes are seen almost everywhere – on the facades, gateways, courtyard walls, parapets, and ceilings. The frescoes have varying themes, mythological, local legends, hunting scenes gradually giving way to more modern themes like the arrival of the British in India, motor cars, airplanes, ships, telephones, gramophones, steam locomotives and trains and balloons These historical and social frescoes have helped the region blossom into colourful profusion of art and life for almost two centuries from 1750 AD to 1930 AD.
Coming back to my hometown, Fatehpur Shekhawati, this is one of the richest sources for observing some of the finest art in the region. The most interesting havelis in Fatehpur are the Goenka Haveli (1870), Choudaharia Haveli, Jagannath Singhania Haveli, Nand Lal Devra Haveli, Vishnunath Keria Haveli, Chamaria Haveli, etc. Most of the havelis are privately owned and are not open to the public. .
Most of the havelis in Fatehpur have been closed for decades, hence the frescos in these havelis are still intact and as shining as they were 7-8 decades ago. A haveli which was opened after 75 years had some of the best frescos I have seen during my entire lifetime.
The Shekhawati region is slowly and steadily finding its well-deserved place on the tourism maps and more foreign tourists are getting attracted to the region. People from France and other European countries are the ones who are frequenting the area more and more.
Fatehpur is well connected by road and rail. The nearest airport is Jaipur. Some distances by road:
Delhi – 260 Km, Sikar – 60 Km, Jaipur – 165 Km, Jhunjhunu – 50 Km, Bikaner – 170 Km, Churu – 40 Km, Mandawa – 20 Km.
WHERE TO STAY
Visitors to the region can stay in any of several heritage hotels that were once feudal castles. Interestingly, many of these historic hotels too are beautiful examples of the painted walls of the region. Simply driving through the small town, or walking down narrow lanes, can throw up brilliant works of art. These are the true treasures of Rajasthan’s open-air art gallery.
- Kedia Guest House near the bus stand has cheap, basic, clean rooms.
- RTDC Hotel Haveli south part of town. It has a restaurant. They can arrange a taxi to visit the other towns in the area.