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Rajasthan: Sekhawati - A Tourist's Guide
Temperature: Summers- 48 Degrees Celsius, Winter- 1 degree Celsius.
Best time to Visit: October to March
The name of the city, Shekhawati, had been derived from the name of the emperor Rao Shekha Ji. Shekha community (Marwari) stays at the “Garden of Shekha” or Shekhawati, located towards the south- eastern side of the towering Aravalli hill. They are very simple and honest. They have an innate ability of greeting guests with utmost pleasure and a smiling face.
Their praiseworthy business acumen have earned a lot of wealth both for their own community and for India. They formed a territory with 360 villages to showcase their own lifestyles by a collection of innumerable colorful frescoes. The Italian Buono architectural stylishness and panache are prominent on these multihued pictures. Well decorated house or Haveli of Shekha community used to exhibit mottled mythological tales and pictures of Sri Krishna with his mate on a horse.
The open air art gallery resembles the pretty structure of a stately palace. The Sri Venkatesh or the divine Vishnu temple was built very recently in 1994 as a replica of the very famous and hallowed temple of Tirupati. The ancient city houses innumerable tourists’ spots which definitely deserve a visit but due to the lack of apt initiatives and promotional activities, the city of Shekhawat is still unable to pull crowds. But, astonishingly plenty of foreigners assemble on the premise of Shekhawati to witness the historical charm of the majestic city.
A lot of tourists complete the entire trip of Sikar, Nawalgarh, Dundlod, Mundawa, Fatehpur, Lachhmangarh, Mahansar, Churu, Pilani, Khetri, Chirawa and Shekhawat in 3 consecutive days. Hordes of holiday makers can avail bus or train from Shekhawati to various places. For a comfortable and relaxed journey you can hire a car as well.
The attractiveness and appeal of Shekhawati festival, celebrated during 18th-20th February, are immense.
Sikar: The sun burnt arid land, Shikar, is covered up with dry sands and is located towards the north-west side of Jaipur, on NH-11. Approximately 11 lakhs inhabitants are living in Shikar. The prime and foremost attraction which is drawing attention for many years is the Haveli, adorned with bright and vivid frescoes. These frescoes recollect the memories of the age old Buono architectures. It’s sad that lack of maintenance had taken a toll on these pretty anthologies.
It was one of the significant business hubs of Rajasthan previously during 17th century. Renowned Gopinath temple, consecrated Raghunath temple and hallowed Madanmohan temple are the charming spots of Shikar. All these bright tourists’ spots are artistically bejeweled with time-honored fresco pictures. The list of other sought after destinations includes, a huge market, a famous clock tower, awe-inspiring fort, pretty Bhiwani Haveli (decorated by mixing blue and white colors), attractive Jubilee Hall, appealing Murarka, wonderful Sodhani Haveli and last but not the least, the Madho Niwas Kothi.
Bus Stand of Shikar is placed at the heart of the city, located towards the south- eastern side of the city of Shikar.
Buses ply quite frequently from Sikar to Jaipur, Nawalgarh, Jhunjhunu, Fatehpur, Churu, Ajmer, Bikaner, Delhi and many more destinations of Rajasthan. The Rail station of Shikar is positioned at the north-eastern side of the city. The cities which are connected to Shikar are Jaipur, Churu, Jhunjhunu, Nawalgarh, Fatehpur, Ramgarh and Bikaner by trains.
Hotel Natraj, Sikar Hotel, PWD and Bungalow of the Electricity Board are the noteworthy places where you can stay comfortably overnight at.
Nawalgarh: One of the busiest cities of Sikar is Nawalgarh, founded by Nawal Singh in 1737, on the Shikar- Jhunjhunu road.
Most of the tourists and city dwellers access the city of Nawalgarh by bus from nearby spots, such as, Jhunjhunu, Shikar, Jaipur and Fatehpur. Nawalgarh bus stand is not very far away from the railway station.
Drive your car from the Nawalgarh bus stand to the main city. Watch the Aath Haveli (located at the left hand side of the Nansa gate), Surajmal Chhauchharia Haveli (situated at the right hand side of the Nansa gate), Shish Mahal and Lakshmi Narayana temple on the way to the city. Enamoring fresco pictures and astonishing ornamentations displayed on the walls of most of the attractive edifices are the fortes of the city. The Goenka Haveli, situated at the northern side of the Bawari gate, looks marvelous for its impressive splendor. Cross the Podder gate and hit the Podder Haveli, built in 1902. A school and a museum had been built in the Podder Haveli. The time-honored Morarka Haveli was closed for many years but it had reopened in 1997. Apart from these, other coveted and long-established havelis are Anandilal, Saraogi, Bhagat and Dangaich. Countless numbers of dotted temples are worth watching as well. The divine Shiva temple, near the railway station, is one among them. The Spatika Lingam is residing on the pious throne of the Shiva temple.
Tourists, who want to enjoy the city of Nawalgarh thoroughly, should stay at Roop Niwas Palace or at Natraj Hotel or at Nawal Hotel or at Mithu Dharamshala or at Bipra Mandal Nabu Lagar Dharamshala.
Lachhmangarh: The Lachhmangarh fort is the foremost attraction of Lachhmangarh and was founded by the emperor Lachhman Singh during 19th century. The panoramic view of the city of Lachhmangarh can be enjoyed from the fort. Char Chowk Ganeriwal Haveli, Rathi Haveli, Sanganeria Haveli, Koyal and Naria Haveli are other admirable and commandable allurements of Lachhmangarh. The holy Radha-Murli temple attracts spiritual crowds as well. Few other sanctified temples, Shrines (Chattis) and Havelis are scattered in and around the city as well.
Fatehpur: Fatehpur, about 52 km towards the northern side of Sikar, was founded by Fateh Khan in 1451 and is located in Sikar district. Plenty of dotted Havelis of Fatehpur demonstrate excellent Buono architectural magnificence. The ornamentations of the Goenka Haveli, founded by Mahavir Prasad in 1880, inventively exhibit mythological tales associated with the Hindu deity Krishna. Take a walk towards the northern side of Fatehpur and hit the Nandalal Debra Haveli to watch the charming panel on the ceiling, beguiling mural art forms and the wooden work on the grand doorway.
Singhania Haveli (1880), Bhartia Haveli, Poddar Haveli, Saraogi Haveli, Jalan Haveli, Chamaria Haveli, Gold Room Haveli and Choudhuri Sati temple (1440) are interesting tourists’ spots of Fatehpur.
If you are interested, then book a room at the Hotel Haveli of RTDC.
Ramgarh: Ramgarh is located at a distance of 20 km towards the northern tip of Fatehpur and is also popularly known for its colorful frescoes, put on display on the walls of the Poddar Haveli. Different mythological tales are exhibited on the shrines. Spiritual crowds are attracted towards the holy Ram-Lakshman temple and consecrated Ganga temple. Mirrors had also been used artistically on the walls of the devout Sani temple.
Dundlod: About 8 km towards the western side of Nawalgarh, Dundlod, situated at an altitude of 363 meters, is a well known historical spot and is primarily famous for the ancient Rajput fort, erected in 1750. The marvelous commingling of stylish Mughal and Rajput architectures make this stately fort even more beautiful.
Tourists now can enjoy their stay at the Dundlod Fort Heritage Hotel in the Dundlod fort.
Interested tourists can take pleasure in camel and horse safari as well. The pretty fresco pictures, embossed on the walls of the fort, can be watched after granting permission from the reception center. Furniture, portraits and idols in the Dewan Khana are the classical examples of ancient art forms. The museum has a laudable assortment of primeval books and inscriptions. Innumerable Havelis, frescoes on the walls of Satya Narayana temple and 100 feet deep well are attracting the throngs of tourists.
The nearby railway station of Dundlod is Mukundgarh.
Mandawa: About 23 km towards the eastern side Fatehpur, Mandawa, is accessed by the visitors mainly from the nearest railway station, Mukundgarh which is not more than 10 km away from Mandawa. Many travel to Mandawa both from Junjhunu (35 km from Jhunjhunu) and Dundlod (5 km from Dundlod) as well.
The attention grabbing enticement of Mandawa previously was a time-honored fort. Later on it became a hotel namely Mukundgarh Fort Heritage Hotel, which became the temporary shack for the hordes of holiday makers. The hotel, however, is closed now. Hotel Shekhawati is another place where tourists can enjoy their stay at.
The tales of the Hindu mythological character, Krishna, are engraved on the walls of Jhunjhunwala. The Havelis of Kanoria, Murarka and Ganeriwala are the other praiseworthy allurements of Mandawa. A number of dotted temples are pulling crowds as well. Muslim devotees would be entertained by the sanctified mosque of Mukundgarh.
Don’t forget to purchase woven textiles, brass and iron scissors from Mandawa.
The fort of Mandawa, erected by Thakur Nawal Singh, is the notable attraction of Mandawa and is the monument which showcases the dappled Mural pictures. But, the castle or this beguiling fort is inaccessible to many as a lavish hotel had been built in its rooms few years back.
The captivating Goenka Haveli and riveting Murmuria Haveli exhibit artistic sculptures, excellent architectural flair and bright portraits. The deadraj turmol, Ladia Haveli, Newatia Haveli, Sharaf Haveli, Laduram Haveli, Gayatri Havel, Chokhani Haveli, Akhram Khan are the impressive memorial scattered around the city of Mandawa. Apart from these, a lot of other Havelis display a class-apart architectural flair on the walls. Colorful frescoes, portrayed on the walls of these imposing and inspiring commemoratives, are the charming historical evidences which are pulling crowds towards the town of Mandawa. Chattises (shrines), 200 feet deep Harlalka Baoli and crystal Shiva lingam are attracting tourists as well. The ornamentations, significantly illustrated on the walls of Gulab Rai Wadia Haveli, positioned at the southern tip of Shekhawati, exemplify the ancient fine art forms. The tour of Mandawa is incomplete if you don’t get an opportunity to buy Tie and Die Print attires.
Mahansar, about 12 km towards the north- east side of Mandawa, was a well known and primeval business hub of Poddar dynasty. Golden Mural pictures are imprinted creatively on the walls of the Sone Ki Dukan of Mahansar and are the proofs of the affluence of the Poddar dynasty. Take a walk to savor the taste of the Rajasthani foods at the restaurant, built in the Mahansar fort by Thakur Nahar Singh in 1768.
Buses ply all the way from various cities, such as, Junjhunu, Shikar, Nawalgarh, Jaipur, Bikaner and Fatehpur to Mandawa regularly.
Hotel Castle Mandawa, Desert Resort, Hotel Rath Mandawa and Hotel Mandawa Heritage are the places where tourists can stay overnight at.
Parasrampuria: A tiny village, about 16 km towards the south-east side of Nawalgarh, is definitely not a very bright spot on the map of India but is a special spot for the tourists who love to watch ancient Indian art forms on frescoes, put on display on the walls of the Gopinath temple (1742), innumerable Havellis, and the chattis of Shikha Rajput Shardul Singh (1750). A dome which was established strongly on 12 neighboring pillars innovatively had been constructed on the crest of the Chattis. An enthralling fort, located towards the western side of the Bed River, is another prime allurement.
Jhunjhunu: It once was the cultural capital of Shekhawati. Jhunjhunu is the head quarter of the Jhunjhunu district and is a prominent business spot for the merchants. Covering 9.64 square km of lands, Jhunjhunu, is a homeland of 100476 inhabitants. Covered with thick mud, the slender streets of jhunjhunu, greets and invites the swarms of holiday makers to show vivid mural pictures and pretty stately Havelis. Modi Haveli (at the northern side of the Jhunjhunu bus stand), nearby Tibrewal Haveli, Nuruddin Faruku Haveli, Chevy Haveli complex and Bihari Ji temple demonstrate the age-old mural paintings. The Khetri Mahal, built way back in 1760, depicts architectural excellence and flair as well.
The mosque of 1500, Qamaruddin Shah Dargah and the stately fort of Jhunjhunu are surrounded by graves. Metrani Baoli and numerous shrines are also scattered around.
The prime and most interesting spot of Jhunjhunu, however, is the holy Sri Rani Sati Ji temple. This remarkable temple commemorates the sanctified divine power Sati Narayani Devi and was built spending a hefty amount. The temple with 700 rooms is spread across a sprawling territory of Jhunjhunu. Mythological tales, such as, Krishna Leela and Hindu puran are embossed on the walls of the consecrated temple. A number of deities are residing on the righteous throne of the primeval temple.
Jhunjhuni is well connected by bus to countless numbers of destinations, such as, Jaipur (185 km), Bikaner, Shekhawati, Delhi and innumerable cities of north and west India.
Hotel Sangam, Shekhavati Heritage Hotel, Hotel Kulhari, Hotel Nabin, Shiv Shekhavati Hotel, Jamuna Resort, Tourist Bungalow and Dharamshala are the notable hotels of Jhunjhunu.
Bissau: About 40 km towards the north- west side of Jhunjhunu, Bissau, is a tiny ancient city, built during 1746. It is 11 km and 12 km away from Ramgarh and Charu respectively. Buses regularly ply to Bissau from Ramgarh, Charu and Jhunjhunu.
The Hamir Singh Chattis is in ruins and is exhibiting pretty mural pictures. The base of the shrine is established on the contiguous domes. If the door of the shrine is closed, then you can rest assure that you would find the key in the adjoining shop.
Frescoes are also put on display on the walls of the Kedia Haveli, nearby Jhunjhunuwala, Khemka Haveli, Singhania Haveli, Fatehpuria Haveli, Sigatia Haveli and Tibrewal Haveli. Another nearby ancient fort called Kesargarh was erected in 1746.
Churu: Churu is located at a distance of 22 km towards the north-west side of Bissau. Most of the city dwellers of Churu are Muslims. Huge numbers of Muslim devotees flock to Churu to witness the splendor of the procession of Muharram. The grand Kothar Haveli (1915), Kaniyalal Bagal Haveli, Khemka Haveli and Bantia Haveli still impress tourists for their stylishness and magnificence. The six storied Surana Hawa Mahal looks spectacular for its well ornamented doorways and windows. The love stories of Dola- Maru had been artistically and wonderfully portrayed on the parapet of the pretty Bagal Haveli. Don’t forget to explore the nearby Jami mosque. Police station is there in the rooms of the very old Churu fort which was painted using both red and saffron colors.
Churu railway station is well connected to Jaipur, Delhi, Shikar, Bikaner and Sawai Madhopur. Buses frequently ply to Fatehpur, Bikaner, Delhi, Jodhpur and Alwar from Churu. Different destinations of North and West India are connected to Churu by private buses as well. Hire an auto or a car to move around the entire town comfortably.
A number of hotels, where tourists can stay at, are there in and around the city of Churu. But, the best place to stay at Churu is the Dharamshala, situated adjacent to holy Ram Mandir. Hotel Chirmi, PWD IB and railway retiring room are also there. Satisfy your taste buds with the delicious Rajasthani food in the Rajesdra Restaurant, located at the opposite side of the Railway station of Churu.
If you are really interested, then you can travel to Chirawa, about 31 km towards the north-eastern side of Jhunjhunu. The city is a business hub. Dotted Havelis, such as, Dalmia, Kakrania, Nemani and Badi, are the coveted tourists’ destinations of Chirawa.
A beautiful water body is there in Baggar, the home of Roongta and Seth Piramal families. Drive your car to Surajgarh, about 12 km towards the north- east side of Chirawa, to watch the fort of 18th century, innumerable primeval temples and pretty Haveli. But, the most famous and attractive attraction is Kajaria Haveli which is located in Kajra, about 6 km towards the northern side of Chirawa.
Loharu and Pilani are situated at a distance of 27 km and 16 km away from Chirawa respectively.
Khetri: Khetri, positioned on the lap of the nature, on the hilly slope of the towering Aravali hill, is situated at a distance of 41 km towards the southern side of Chirawa. It was an affluent city of Rajasthan. Frescoes of Raghunath temple, charming structure of Bhopalgarh fort, Ajit Sagar (the huge water body at a distance of 11 km from Khetri), Ashram of Remeshwar Das, captivating walls of Baggar fort, amiable Sukh Mahal, pretty Pannalal Shahu talao and divine Sri Ramkrishna Mission Ashram are wonderful and laudable. It is said that, Swami Vivekanda had also visited the Darbar of the Khetri emperor.
Pilani: Pilani is accessible from Jhunjhunu, Delhi, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Bikaner, Jodhpur and plenty of spots of north-west India by bus. Pilani was the old homeland of the Birla family (merchants). The education center of Pilani was built by Birla and is famous all over the world. BITS Pilani engineering college is one among the reputed engineering colleges of India.
The consecrated Saraswati temple is an appealing spot of Pilani. The splendid architectures, displayed on the walls of the temple, are drawing attention. The Shiva idol, placed at the back end of the temple, in a pretty orchard, is striking.
The tour is incomplete if you don’t visit the museum to watch the exhibition of various scientific substances.
The Birla Haveli is rich in articles of the royal families. The age of the age-old Sriram temple is more than 100 years. The Hindu epic Ramayana is shown on a charming model. Everyone has to spend 5 rupees to watch the extraordinary collection of the museum.
Tourists can enjoy their stay at Sitaram Bhandar Yatri Niwas, Birla Guest House, BITS Guest House, Aluminium Guest House, Maheswari Lodge and Krishna Hotel.
How to reach: Shekhawati can be accessed from Jaipur, Nawalgarh, Jhunjhunu, Fatehpur, Churu, Ajmer, Bikaner, Delhi and many more cities of Rajasthan by bus.
Where to stay: Castle Pachar and Alsisar Mahal.
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