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Journalist: Sapna Kapoor
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Start Date: May 4th, 2016
Last Update: May 4th, 2016
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#1
Frescos of Shekhawati
Date Posted: May 4th, 2016 at 14:34 - Comments (0)
Shekhawati is one of the less visited andlesser known part of Rajasthan though its full of art & history, its located in Northern part of Rajasthan approx 260 Kms from national capital of Delhi and approx 100 Kms from city of Jaipur. Rajasthan tourism is also not promoting Shekhawati region. Its still some what offbeat destination. During my trip, I due came across some foreign tourist but no Indian traveller.
Unlike main cities of Rajasthan, this part is not well connected by public transport.There is no Volvo bus service if one don't want to drive and train service is also, only state transport's local buses ply on this route.

I have been planning to travel to Shekhawati for quite some time. Travelling here between April to September is not a good idea because area is hot and arid like most of Rajasthan. Finally I managed to go there in month of October, it was pleasant during my trip. From my google research, I came to know that Mandawa is very touristy place and most people visit it because its well know town of Shekhawati region and it was the first town developed for tourists. After checking all options, I had decided to skip Mandawa and instead explore Nawalgarh. Since I was traveling alone, so driving was never an option for me and taking taxi for 4 days was coming very expensive. Bus was not an good option as it was taking too long so, I decided to travel by train to Nawalgarh. The train started plying on this route twice a week, couple of months before my travel. When I boarded the train early morning it was almost empty. The AC 3 compartment had only two other passengers, I felt very uncomfortable, lonely and unsafe. So I decided to change my compartment and shifted to Sleeper class, it was also half empty but atleast there were some families. I occupied one side lower berth next to an elderly couple. They were nice and chatty. Weather was pleasant and I could see the landscape more conveniently from my open window. By the time I reached Nawalgarh, it was mid noon.

I came out of the station and took an autorickshaw for my resort. I had advance booked Apani Dhani Eco Resort. It was middle of week and there were no other guest and during my two days stay there were no other traveller came. The place is run and maintained by family. Resort is situation little out of the main city on highway but still it was very quite and peaceful. It has lots of open ground and near the farming are so, there were lots of house sparrows jumping around, which we hardly or never see in cities.

I had decided to explore the haveli's after lunch and took a guided walking tour guide from my resort to conveniently locate / explore the havelis. I visited Murarka Haveli, Chokhani Haveli, Bhagat Haveli,Poddar Haveli, Chudi wali Haveli, Morarka Haveli, 8 Haveli, Sheesh mahal and couple of temples (I forgot the names as these came in between haveli's walking tour). Some of the haveli's were closed but most of them were open. Finally it started getting dark so I decided to explore on my own next morning as I got familiar with the area and know location of haveli's.

Next morning after breakfast I went to the town to explore some haveli's again, which I liked from my previous visit. The best maintained haveli is the Poddar haveli. They have maintained the fresco's well and even have a in house guide to explain the history of haveli.

Later on I checked out from my resort and decided to take local bus to Fatehgarh, where I had decided to visit one particular place but by the time I reached it was afternoon and most of the market was full with people who were waiting for Muharram procession and police have blocked & restricted entry to some roads. I could not visit any place in Fatehgarh but walked around 1.5 to 2 Kms with people standing on road or sitting outside shops, it was experience in itself and I don't mind just getting the feel of the city even if I am not able to see things.
Since I could not do anything there so, I started for my next destination Ramgarh. Took a bus but it drove at medium pace because on highway almost half of the road was occupied by devotees walking towards Salasar balaji (Hanuman Temple) due to some auspicious days of the year. For them volunteers and some religious organisations have arranged stalls on sides of roads, where they were giving refreshment and water to the people walking toward temple.

Finally I reached Ramgarh and took an autorickshaw for my place of stay called "Ramgarh Fresco", which was previously known as Khemka haveli.
The haveli was located in inner lanes of city. Again I had whole place to myself as there were no other guests :-) . They had given me a nice and spacious room. After freshening up, I decided to explore the town of Ramgarh. It was already late afternoon so, I decided to explore one side of town i.e. temples. Most of the temples are located in one direction except for Shani temple. The temples were not maintained well due to fund crunch but still you can marvel at the beauty and architect. Next to some of the temples you will see a platform with four pillars, which is actually well and they have made these this way so that travellers in old days can spot the well from distance. In some well areas, you will see small Chhatris which were used as resting place in earlier days for village people. Apart from temples, you see wells with four pillar on sides of roads also.

It was getting dark by the time I decided to go back to my haveli. On the way back, I have to stop as market was full of people and a Tajia procession was coming in my direction to commemorate the Muharram. I never seen a procession like this before and it was a learning experience. People were beating drums and moving in rhythm. There were many Tajia's and all were decorated beautifully.

The town of Ramgarh is full of ancient haveli's (As per my information maximum in whole Shekhawati region) but unfortunately all are closed, some are locked from outside so you can't enter but from facade and side walls you can see how beautiful these haveli's were at one time. Though in some haveli's you will see broken windows or wall from where plunderer made small entry in to it and according to locals they had looted the material from haveli's slowly slowly. In some haveli's, the next generation of guards or care takes had taken over the haveli's illegally and renovated some parts of it. In process of renovation they had destroyed the frescoes. In some haveli's guards or caretakers don't allow the visitors according to the instructions of owners. It is very unfortunate that a town, which is full of history and heritage is dying slow death. There is so much to see and preserve but nothing happening and I am sure in next couple of decades it will lose everything ancient. The Ram Gopal Poddar Chhatri is one of its own kind in whole region. It is big and needs better maintenance.
Ramgarh is also famous for the business of Handicrafts and furniture,there are more than 2 dozen handicraft industries.

Next day, I had train from Churu so I decided to explore the town before leaving. After an early breakfast, I took a taxi for Churu. There are few haveli's in town but again most of them are either closed or converted to hotel or are in process of becoming a hotel. There was hardly anything to see in town so, I started for Sethani Ka Johara which is in outskirts of city, again same story of no maintainace. I came back to narrow lanes of town, where I knew I can atleast one place the Golden temple of Jains. It is small but beautiful temple. The interior of temple are decorated with glass and paintings, when priest switch on lights it looks even more beautiful. This place was highlight Churu. I did some shopping of Ker, sangri and couple of local items before boarding my train for Delhi.
It was a short trip but I came across lots of new things and heritage structures, which are unique character of this region.
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