Rajasthan's Shekhawati Mansions ·

Indian Vistas: Rajasthan’s Shekhawati Mansions

Rajasthan is well known as one of India’s most popular destinations. The grandeur of historic wealth in the Land of Kings is seen most visibly in the many palaces found throughout the state, with Lake Palace in Udaipur being one of the world’s most famous travel images. Beyond the obvious appeal of such cities as Jaipur, Jodhpur, and Jaisalmer lies a virtually unknown region of Rajasthan little visited by the international traveller, yet it offers a richly rewarding experience for those who make the effort to go.

Le Prince Haveli sitting area

The Shekhawati is an area a few hours’ drive north of Jaipur encompassing several small towns where wealthy Marwari merchants constructed extravagant homes for themselves and their families. Known as havelis, the houses were decorated with colourful frescoes covering nearly every centimetre of their interior and exterior walls, the result being an abundance of ornate mansions in some most unexpected places. Of the hundreds of havelis built in the region’s heyday in the 1800s, most have fallen into sorrowful states of disrepair. Some, though, have been restored to their former magnificence and allow the intrepid visitor to see some of India’s most authentic historical architecture.

Nawalgarh street scene.jpg

The towns of Mandawa, Ramgarh, Fatehpur, and Nawalgarh are places where the importance of historical preservation is on the rise and havelis are being restored. Located in the centre of the Shekhawati, Nawalgarh has seen several imposing mansions brought back to life, though perhaps the most amazing restoration of all is found at Le Prince Haveli in the town of Fatehpur. French artist Nadine Le Prince and her son Joël have worked tirelessly for two decades to reinvigorate their splendid home, which luckily for guests is open to visitors not as a hotel in the traditional sense but rather as a homestay. The continual restoration work taking place at Le Prince Haveli is extremely interesting as old-style techniques are used in keeping with the traditional architecture, and what has already been done is not short of magnificent. Ramgarh, north of Fatehpur, has a particular abundance of charmingly dilapidated havelis, but here the draw is more the enchanting chhatris, domed pavilions usually built in a set to make a visually harmonious complex of buildings. In Mandawa, the castle belonging to a descendant of the local maharajah also welcomes visitors to stay in what is the most visited town in the region.

A car is a must to get around within the towns and from one town to another. Indian Vistas provides extraordinarily attentive personalised service for its clients and sees to it that they are completely satisfied with their travel experiences. A small company under meticulous ownership and management, Indian Vistas can arrange every aspect of a stay in India, including flights, rail journeys, cars with drivers, accommodation, and the type of special insider travel experiences that sophisticated travellers adore. In a place as fascinating as the Shekhawati, that expertise in local culture is priceless in creating the trip of a lifetime for adventurous travellers.

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