The Shekhavati region consists mainly of the Sikar, Churu and Jhunjhunu districts. This region has dry and extreme climatic conditions, and the annual rainfall does not exceed 38-45 centimeters.
Shekhavati has a wealth of traditional arts, crafts and architecture, with some of them being living traditions. Shekhavati is accessible by both road and rail. Shekhavati were famous for building luxurious havelis (palaces, mansions) throughout the region. They painted themselves right into the walls, filling both the interior and exterior walls of their palaces and temples with frescoes of themselves, their lives and loves, their heroes and their gods.
These havelis were built mainly in the latter half of the 20th century by the Marwari merchants of Shekhavati, who ventured out primarily to Calcutta and Assam. The lavish Havelis are a fine example of craftsmanship - some of them are even painted in pure gold. A few of these havelis have now been converted into heritage hotels, although most of them are looked after by old family caretakers for their busy seths who visit them once in a while. Shekhavati also has a number of small fortresses and a deer sanctuary at Tal Chhapar. The best way to visit and view this region is either on a Horse Safari or a Camel Safari.
The key attractions at Shekhawati are the frescoed Havelis and mansions built by the early Marwaris. The buildings painted in rich colors belong to the 18th, 19th and early 20th century. Unlike havelis and palaces built by other rulers, like Mughals, these havelis consist of several courtyards. There is an inner courtyard and an outer one; in larger ones there are more than two. The painted walls or frescoes depict scenes from popular epics and history. The mural work and mirror work has been extensively employed in these beautiful monuments. One can have a good idea of the prosperity as was enjoyed by the business class.
: One of the most interesting havelis is the Goenka Haveli (1870), which has excellent paintings on the walls, including several depicting Krishna’s pastimes. The main highlight is the painted ceiling in an upstairs room. You get to this haveli by taking the main road north from the bus stand, and then you turn left at the main intersection. The house to the left of the Goenka Haveli has nice mirrorwork.
Nand Lal Devra Haveli
: Nand Lal Devra Haveli has an interesting painted ceiling as you enter the house and nice paintings on the courtyard walls. There is a 17th century baori (step-well) near the bus stand. Also good are Singhania (1880) and Saraogi havelis.
The Modi Haveli
: (1895) in the main bazaar is considered to have some of the best paintings in the Shekhawati area. There are paintings of maharajas and many of Krishna’s pastimes. The Tibrewala Haveli (1883) in the main bazaar has many murals on it and colored glass windows.
There are also step-wells, including Mertani Bawri, in the north of town, which is one of the best step-wells in the Shekhawati area.
built in the 1920s (east past Poddar Gate) is very well restored. Admission Rs 50. Open 8 am to 7:30 pm
Some other good havelis are Bhagton ki Haveli, Goenka Haveli, Khedwal Bhavan, and the Hem Raj Kulwal Haveli. The Ganga Mai Temple, near Nansa Gate, is also interesting.