Situated in north-eastern Rajasthan, Shekhawati is a semi-arid historical region rich in culture and history and has earned the sobriquet ‘open art gallery of Rajasthan‘ as the region has the largest concentration of frescoes in the world. Shekhawati derives its name from the Rajput Kachwaha chieftain Rao Shekha Ji. The descendants of Rao Shekha Ji, ruled the area and were called Shekhawats. Shekhawati was the largest Nizamat of the erstwhile princely state of Jaipur.
Though Shekhawati is limited to Jhunjhunu and Sikar districts of Rajashtan from the administrative and geographical point of view, some parts of Churu and Nagaur districts are also considered to be part of the region. Shekhawati, a dialect of Rajasthani language, is mainly spoken here.
A trip to Shekhawati can’t be complete without visiting the havelis to view the magnificent frescoes. Most havelis were constructed during 18th century to early 20th century. Influenced by Persian, Jaipur and Mughal schools of painting, the Shekhawati frescoes depict themes from mythology, hunting and everyday life.
There are two legends as to how the region got its name. According to one, Shekhawati was named after Rao Shekha Ji and literally means Garden of Shekha. According to another legend, Shekhawati is derived from Persian word ‘Sheekh’ which means ‘sand deposited on sea beach’.
Fossils found in the area confirm it was once covered by seawater. According to Hindu mythology, the present day Shekhawat was part of Virata kingdom, where the Pandavas spent a year of their exile. Shekhawati started flourishing in the late 18th century with the development of overland caravan trade route linking Pali and Bhiwani. Exorbitant taxes by states like Jaipur and Bikaner, resulted in Banias, the trading community, flocking to Shekhawati, where the taxes were low. Later, the British used the skills of local merchants to improve trade. While the traders ventured out to far outposts of colonial empire, they built havelis for their families back home.
Listing image: By Ahron de Leeuw (Flickr)/Wikimedia commons
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN SHEKHAWATI
Tourist facilities in Shekhawati as in other parts of Rajasthan are well developed. Shekhawati offers a variety of options to stay including budget hotels, resorts, mid-rande and premium hotels to heritage properties. Many of the hotels have their own websites and reservations can be made on the Internet. Most of the hotels have AC rooms and offer laundry and hot water on demand.
A trip to Shekhawati cannot be complete without experiencing the pomp and splendor associated with the royals of Rajasthan. If you want to have a taste of the exotic, then opt for some of the eco-friendly resorts which offer accommodations in comfortable mud huts.
BEST PLACES TO EAT IN SHEKHAWATI
Because of the Jain influence, some eateries here avoid using garlic and onions. Traditional Rajasthani meals include dal baati churma and sweet (churma); try the explosive lahsun ki kachori if you are game for something fiery hot and spicy.
BEST TIME TO VISIT SHEKHAWATI
The average minimum and maximum temperature of Shekhawati is as given below. The best time to visit Shekhawati is also specified.