If you're an art lover, or even someone who's into architecture and history, the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan is well worth including on your itinerary. Located in the triangle of Delhi, Jaipur and Bikaner, many people overlook it in favor of more popular destinations in Rajasthan. However, this unique region is often referred to as the world's largest open air art gallery.
The old havelis (mansions), with walls adorned with intricate painted frescoes, are the main attraction in the Shekhawati region. The region's background is fascinating. It was established in the 18th century along a caravan trade route, and ruled by the Shekhawat Rajputs. The region was a prosperous one, with over 100 villages, and 50 forts and palaces.
Over the next century, many people from the neighboring Marwar community migrated to Shekhawati and made it their home. These rich business people commissioned artists to paint frescoes on their homes as a sign of opulence. Painted havelis cropped up all over the desert landscape. The art was kept alive for nearly 300 years. However, eventually, more and more families settled elsewhere. These days many homes are abandoned, locked up, and neglected.
How to Get to Shekhawati
The Shekhawati region is best approached from Jaipur or Bikaner, in Rajasthan, or Delhi. If you want to take the train from Delhi, Indian Railways trains depart from Delhi Sarai Rohilla station and go via Churu (on the outskirts of the region) to Bikaner or Jodhpur. Travel time is approximately 4.5 hours. There are more frequent departures from Jaipur, and they conveniently stop at Nawalgarh. Travel time is approximately 3.5 hours. The nearest airport is in Jaipur, around 150 kilometers away.
Hiring a car and driver is recommended and facilitates easy touring of the region. From Jaipur, V Care Tours and Travel provide top quality car and driver services. Their cars are new and clean, and the very courteous drivers are uniformed and English speaking. If you don't have a car, you can explore by everything from horseback to bus.
Viator also offer this Two Day Private Tour to Mandawa from Jaipur and Six Day Golden Triangle and Mandawa Private Tour from Delhi. Both tours are easily bookable online!
For a longer and more in depth experience of the Shekhawati region, this Straight from the Art trip from Breakaway is recommended, departing from either Delhi or Jaipur.
When is the Best Time to Visit Shekhawati
The main tourist season extends from October until March, when the weather is the coolest and driest. If you go in early February, you'll be able to catch the annual Shekhawati Festival that takes place in Nawalgarh. Winter nights are cold though, so do pack warm clothing!