Tarun and Yogita's Travel Blog

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Location: New Delhi, India

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The painted towns of Shekhawati

Along side the dusty streets of Shekhawati region, the treasure of Rajasthan is struggling to keep its identity against the perils of over population and misadministration (that one can see in abundance in India).

Shekhawati region has its true heritage in beautifully painted exquisite Havelis, with ignorance and growing needs of the villagers taking a toll on them. We visited Bissau, Mehansar, Fatehpur and Nawalgarh villages of the Shekhawati region. We were still objects of wonder in those remote villages but our language helped us through. A fort sold to a family for a mere 1.60 lakh rupees has dilapidated to dirty and unattractive ruins. But, the families in Bissau are nevertheless welcoming allowing us to take a look at more than a 100 years old art.

Mehansar is another gem of a place, but here we found that people are slowly becoming aware of their priceless heritage. Narayan Niwas Castle, a heritage hotel, is one such attempt. Although a fort turned into a hotel bereaves tourists from just viewing the art, it is still an attempt preserve the art. This ofcourse assumes that the guests of the hotels are sensitive to the heritage. A gold room in Mehansar is a relatively well kept exquisite piece of art where every inch of the wall is painted delicately with fruit colors and real gold. The toll of time is visible here too, but the fact that the room is kept locked is reassuring.

Meandering into the narrow, dusty and filthy streets we found about a haveli in Fatehpur that is an exemplary effort by a French artist, Nadine Le prince to protect Shekhawati. She bought a dying haveli and with amazing dedication and tireless efforts restored it and added an art gallery to the same. After a long day experiencing a dismal state of affairs and disappearing art it was quite a relief to see some activism even though by a foreigner to preserve our heritage. And, all those who know the psyche of common Indians, we are sure that the copy cat attitude would ensure that many other havelis would be restored and turned into museums :). And a testament to this is that another haveli in Fatehpur is on sale for restoration and museum if interested please let us know we will put you in touch with the right people.


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