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World’s Largest Open Air Art Gallery in India

April 10, 2016 | Neha Kirpal

For the art and history lovers out there, the relatively unknown Shekhawati region of northern Rajasthan is a must visit in India. This semi-arid region, most famous for its lavish havelis (mansions) adorned with beautiful, traditional paintings is a one-of-its-kind experience of royalty and luxury rolled into one!


Photo Courtesy: Neha Kirpal

One of Shekhawati’s most prominent cities, Mandawa, was an important halt in the silk route. It used to be the trading outpost for the ancient caravan routes that stopped here from China and the Middle East.

The Mandawa castle was built as an imposing fort in 1755. The township of Mandawa grew around this castle, filled as it is till today with ancient havelis and the local market selling everything from antique handicrafts to camel-leather shoes. As one strolls through the city, one can’t help but marvel at the frescos of these havelis—decorated with colorful folk tales, culture, history, social and religious themes.





Photo Courtesy: Daniel Mennerich

A camel cart ride to the sand dunes nearby—with local children waving from their homes—will surely make you feel like a Rajput king or queen!
A picturesque half hour drive from Mandawa through the desert gets you to Ramgarh, one of the richest towns in 19th century India. Today, it has more ornamented havelis than any other town in Shekhawati. Ramgarh is also extremely famous for its traditional woodwork and handcrafted furniture.



Photo Courtesy: Daniel Mennerich


Located about 25 kms from Mandawa is Nawalgarh which has some of the finest frescos and painted havelis in the Shekhawati region. Some of the havelis worth seeing here are Anandi Lal Poddar Haveli, Bhagton ki Haveli and Aath Haveli. The majestic backdrop of Nawalgarh, showcasing the traditional fresco paintings make it the perfect venue for exotic destination weddings and elaborate film shootings.
So head to Shekhawati soon—to relive a bygone era!





Neha Kirpal

Author of ‘Wanderlust for the Soul’, an e-book collection of short stories based on travel in different parts of the world. Contact her at nehakirpal@gmail.com.


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