THE OPEN AIR ART GALLERY
The semi desert region of Shekhawati holds a fascination all of its own. 'The open-air art gallery', as it is popularly called, is famous for the plethora of plain red havelis, all commendable pieces of the rich artistic tradition of this region. 'Shekhawati ', meaning "the land of Shekha 's dan " derives its name from Rao Shekha (1433 AD-1488 AD) a scion of the Kachhwah family of Jaipur. Earlier a part of the former Jaipur state, it now comprises of the districts of Jhunjhunu and Sikar.
Initially, the region had a blank monochromatic look but with subsequent historical and social developments, it has blossomed into a colourful profusion of art and life for almost 2 centuries from 1750 AD to 1930 AD.
Havelis at Shekhawati built by rich merchants of the region, display a unique architectural style that evolved around the courtyards to ensure safety and privacy of the women folk and protection from the heat of the long and harsh summers.
The havelis, painted predominantly in blue, maroon, yellow green and indigo have beautiful wall paintings that adorn their walls.
The earlier wall paintings (1830 AD -1900 AD) were largely based on the mythological themes, depicting local legends, animals, portraits, hunting and wrestling scenes and a glimpse of everyday life.
The turn of the 19th century saw the appearance of new motifs, an outcome of the Raj's influence upon the Indian culture. Now, cars replaced elephants and traditional Indian miniatures mingled with naturalism of western paintings to produce interesting hybrid results. The mythological themes depicting gods, heroes, epics and legends were substituted by European oleographs, lithographs and photographs.
Trains, cars, balloons, telephones, gramophones, English men in hunting attires and portraits of the haveli owners primely dressed, were painted all over the walls - thus making the havelis interesting for both Indian and foreign travellers.
Air: Jaipur is the nearest airport, 120 km away
Train: Mainline railway joining Delhi, Jaipur,Bikaner crosses Shekhawati
Road: Shekhawati is 120 km by road from Jaipur. THis is the most convenient way to tour Shekhawati and surrounding areas.
Local Transport: Jeeps and local buses are available for commuting locally. One may also hire a taxi from Jaipur or Sikar to visit Shekhawati.
Though there are some guest houses and hotels, it is better to travel down to Jaipur, Sikar or Nawalgarh for a more comfortable stay.
Jaipur- 120 km
Sikar- 15 km
Nawalgarh- 30 km