The region of Shekhawati in Rajasthan, in western India, is famous for its traditional arts. The mansions built by the wealthy businessmen of the region feature exquisite paintings that decorate their walls, doors, and interiors. Shekhawati paintings have gained popularity over the years. How big can you imagine an open air gallery to be? Well, here you are… 13, 785 sq. km [5130 sq. miles] of painted walls, havelis, palaces and forts in the vast expanse of the desert of Rajasthan. Town after town, street after street, home after home has been painted with frescoes depicting characters and stories from Indian mythology, history, vernacular culture and life, erotica, and even imaginary and hilarious depictions of science fiction!
This is the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan. Established and ruled by the Shekhawat rajputs for centuries till independence of India in 1947, it was the largest Nizamat of Jaipur. With more than 120 villages, 50 forts and palaces, it was definitely the most happening place for architecture and art development. Few of these have been restored or remodeled to be reused as heritage hotels or museum or schools. Others have become obscure or peeled off.
What was the need to paint walls? Neighboring Marwar region influenced the Shekhawati region a lot. The marwar community was rich, and prosperous. This was the ‘business class’! For over a century between 1830 and 1930, marwaris made Shekhawati their home, before they started migrating to other parts of India. Family names that are now associated with some of India’s big business houses, originated here. As the ultimate symbol of their opulence, the Marwaris commissioned artists to paint those buildings. Hundreds of these courtyard houses cropped up in the desert landscape, each of them covered inside out with colorful frescoes. This art was kept alive for almost 300 years. Eventually it started falling apart as more and more families from this community started settling elsewhere, and these houses were locked up to ruins. But now, most of the Havelis are open for the tourists and travelers to admire the beauty and marvel created on the walls and ceilings of these havelis.
There are instances where these frescoes were refurbished and renovated by gach[mirror] work and intricately carved wood work. Some merchants and ministers even got the havelis painted in gold and silver. There are havelis which have frescoes which amuse everyone- showing King George and Queen Victoria of England in an Indian landscape! Some even illustrate modern machinery of the times such as airplanes, cars, telephones!!
If you ever plan to travel to India, do not miss on traveling to this open art gallery in Shekhawati, Rajasthan. You will ne’er regret it.
We welcome you to Alsisar Mahal, Shekhawati to get a feel of the times of yore, to let yourself unravel in the peaceful ambience and to experience the true essence Shekhawati Paintings in this magnificent open art gallery.
For an unforgettable experience of magnificent paintings from amidst the regal hospitality, feel free to contact us.
Alsisar Haveli Jaipur:
Sansar Chandra Road, Jaipur 302 001 (INDIA)
Tele: +91-141-236 8290 , 236 4685, 510 7157 Fax: +91-141-2364652
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