(Guest writer Reshmi Mukherjee till 4.5.22)
From 1st May 2022 to 2nd May 2022 Saikat and I, were in Kashmir. On 3rd May 2022, Sourabh da and his group reached Srinagar and we were supposed to pick them up from the airport and head towards Kargil, but reverse happened and they picked us from ghat no 7 of Dal Lake.
3.5.2022 - Srinagar > Kargil
4.5.2022- Kargil > Leh
5.5.2022- Leh > Delhi
6.5.22 - Delhi
6.5.22- Delhi > Sikar > Nawalgarh (overnight bus)
8.5.22- Nawalgarhv>Mandawa > Nawalgarh
8.5.22- Nawalgarh > Delhi (overnight bus)
9.5.22 Delh- Kolkata
It was raining and our shikara Jumbo King came late to pick us up from the houseboat. Saikat had an argument with the houseboat in charge as he was rude. Anyhow we managed to reach the ghat and we could see Sourabh da waving at us. We unloaded the luggages from the shikara and loaded in the car. I literally slipped at the floor while getting down from the shikara, but somehow managed myself.
They have come in Tata Innova car, since we were six people. So we took our seats, Sourabh da was at the front seat, Saikat on one side, myself at the middle and Tanhi on the other side and Bappa da and Debdutta da were at the back and our luggages were tied up on the top of the car. This time the driver was Rakesh. We started our journey to Kargil at 9.45 am. The roads were quite congested as it was Eid Ul Fitr on that day. Some of the roads were even closed as well. We passed through Jammu and Kashmir University to avoid the crowd and it was a massive campus I could see that the houses in the city of Srinagar were almost similar in designs and they had rose garden inside their house.
Now on our way we halted at around 12.30 pm and had famous kahwa tea and uncle chips and some local salty snacks like nimki. We were planning to have lunch at Sonemarg. We reached Sonemarg at around 2.30 pm. We could witness the beautiful valley there and we took the pictures of valleys. It was quite crowded.
We all were hungry, but couldn’t find any restaurants there and the driver also didn’t cooperated with us. On our way we saw many army trucks in Sonemarg. Now suddenly at a crossing many cars were stuck and people got down from the cars. We learnt that landslide had occurred near Zojilla pass and we were supposed to cross the Zozilla pass by 1 pm, but we were already late by almost 2 hours. We waited for near about 45 minutes. Then they let us go. Now we went ahead to zero point. We could witness the snow there and all of us got down from the car and clicked pictures. I was excited to catch hold of the snow.
We even asked the driver to take a group picture of ours.
Now we passed by Zojilla pass and the road was not smooth at all and it was meandering.
We enjoyed the journey. There was snow on both sides of the road. We could also see the construction site of the Zojilla tunnel. Then we went ahead and again after a point we found the roads were blocked and this time we got to know another story , that a VIP was supposed to pass by and that is why the roads were blocked. It is difficult to know which version of the story is true. But in India everything is possible.
We were feeling very hungry as we didn’t have lunch and suddenly I remembered that I was carrying khakra - that was been gifted to us by the gujrati family. It was like heaven for us and a sigh of relief and I distributed it amongst all and everyone relished it since all were feeling very hungry. I noticed that the sun sets quite late there at around 7 pm.
In the meantime we reached Drass, apparently the coldest region after Siberia, where the temperature goes down to say (-) 60 degree in winters. Rakesh, our driver bought fruits, vegetables and chicken from a shop, which is to be handed over to somebody else. It is quite common here, because of lack of transport in this route.
We went to see the Kargil war memorial, which is also known as the Drass war memorial and it is a war memorial, built by the Indian army in the town of Dras, commemorating the 1999 Kargil war in between India and Pakistan. It is located on the Srinagar Leh national highway. The memorial had the statues of brave heroes who sacrificed their lives in the Kargil war, including captain Vikram Batra and Operation Vijay was launched by the Indian army to recapture the territory. Consequently several fierce battles were fought by the Indian army - finally winning the war. At the Kargil war memorial, they even showed us one documentary film of around 8 minute’s duration, showing how the brave heroes sacrificed their lives for the war. We all watched it and donated Rs 50 at the donation box kept there in that room. The room was chilling cold.
Vikram Batra died in this hill
Saikat bought a fridge magnet worth Rs 70 from the souvenir shop there at the Kargil war memorial and so did Bappa da.
It was getting dark and the temperature was freezing and we were feeling hungry and we could find only one eatery opposite Kargil war memorial and we had Maggi there and Sourabh da asked for omelette - but they didn’t have eggs. We had Maggi with hot and sweet sauce - we had one and half portions and Debdutta da and Bappa da had two and Sourabh da had one. Tanwi didn’t come down from the car and Bappa da took the bowl of Maggi in the car, as she was not feeling well.
Now again we headed towards Kargil Town. It was getting dark and suddenly Rakesh took a different road to hand over the items he bought to somebody beside the hill. Now it was really getting dark and we were worried whether we would reach Kargil at the right time, but Rakesh assured us that we would reach at the right time. Throughout the journey, Rakesh played some terrible songs in local language and Punjabi and we were completely bored and feeling even tired on hearing them; we asked him many times to change the music, but he didn’t oblige. Now some parts of the road were very bad - though we came across smooth roads too.
Now we crossed the POK area where Pakistan occupied Kashmir, this is the name used by India for the portion of Kashmir under Pakistani administration. Soon we reached our hotel Zojilla Residency at around 8.30 pm. Kargil is a small town set at the hill top. It is a nice hotel. The shops were closed because of Eid. It is the only place where you get provisions and there are some hotels too. We checked in to the hotel. It was a decent one and the hotel was situated on the river side. The weather at night was quite chilling and we asked the hotel staff about the temperature and they said that it was near about 7 or 8 degrees then. We checked in to our rooms. Our rooms were quite spacious. We didn’t unpack much as we had to leave the next day for Leh.
We freshened up and went to the dinning hall for dinner. It was a vegetarian buffet spread and the menu included tomato soup, chapattis, Dal makhni, mixed veg, paneer butter masala and on special request, they even served chicken curry for us, but it didn’t taste that well. I didn’t feel like having it, but Sourabh da offered me to have one and I had one piece but I didn’t liked the taste. The gravy was too light. I was excited to see the rice pudding in dessert with fruits in it and I relished that. Saikat didn’t have much for the fear of acidity. Before dinner we both had Eno to get relief from the acidity problem.
4th May 2022
We woke up in the morning and freshened up. We had set the alarm at 5.45 am and I would get up at 5.15 and 5.30 am. I freshened up and made tea in the electric kettle that was provided by the hotel. I would wake up Saikat and we both would have tea and freshened up and take our bath. We knocked everyone for breakfast. We went to the restaurant and saw Debdutta da had already finished his breakfast. He is a diabetic and it is not advisable for him to be in empty stomach for long.
The breakfast spread had cereals, bread, mango juice, masala omelette, paratha and aloo sabzi, bananas, tea and coffee. I ate bananas and had juice. While we were having breakfast, sourbah da joined us too and then came Bappa da and Tanwi. While they were having breakfast, we went to the river side to click pictures. We all sat there for quite sometime, as the driver came late. He was supposed to come at 8 am but ultimately he came at 9 am and in the mean time Bappa da called Haider to enquire about him. Only Bappa da’s BSNL sim was working there. Rakesh finally came and he loaded the car with our luggages and oxygen cylinders. We started our journey say at around 9.15 am for Leh.
On our way, we stopped at the nearby market place and asked Rakesh to load some water bottles as it was mentioned in the package. Rakesh stopped near a shop and he called Haider for this. He took almost 15-20 minute’s time . In the mean time Debdutta da and I got down from the car and noticed one local Ladakhi girl and her brother working there as labourers and we both clicked pictures. They were feeling shy and they kept hiding themselves from us. We somehow managed to click their pictures.
Then we noticed that suddenly Rakesh vanished in thin air and another driver came in to drive us to Leh. His name was Zakir Hussain and he was Rakesh’s cousin and he was a café owner there. He was a sober and decent guy, much better than Rakesh.
Now our next destination was Leh Leh is the capital and the largest city of the region administered by India as a Union territory of Ladakh. Our journey to Leh started and on the way we halted at a place called Khatri from where we had kawha and local bakery biscuits. Sourabh da bought 6 local bakery biscuits and we had it in the car later on. Then we halted at a Maitreya Monastery that had a large statue of Buddha. We all clicked pictures there. Then we headed further East.
Our next stop was at Fotu La top, that is the highest point on the Leh and Srinagar road and it had an altitude of 13479 feet. Fatu La is a mountain pass on the Srinagar-Leh highway in the Zanskar Range of the Himalayas . La means Pass or Mountain. I wanted to go to the toilet and there were no provisions of toilet there and the army people allowed the ladies to use theirs and I did so. We stopped there for a while and Bappa da and Tanwi and Debdutta da climbed a bit higher but I didn’t because of asthama problem and nor did Saikat and Sourabh da.
Our journey continued and our next destination was famous Lamayuru monastery. It is a Tibetan buddist monastery in lamayuru in Leh district, Ladakh. Lamayuru is known for its lunar landscape, quaintly promoted as a moonscape for tourists. When we reached the monastery, it was around 1 pm and we didn’t know that the ticket counters were closed from 1-1.30 for lunch. The driver told us to have lunch down at the market, downhill, but we thought of not wasting the time for lunch them and instead of that eat lunch at a restaurant, that was there - beside the monastery. Everyone agreed and we ordered thukpa and momos - as it was a Tibetan place and we thought of having Tibetan food. They don't serve any meat, so we ordered egg thukpa and veg momos. Sourabh da was not satisfied with the service - since they didn’t serve any sauce with thukpa and momos although he asked number of times. It was finally given when our lunch is over. Now after having lunch, we went to the ticket counter and bought tickets. Sourabh da looked very tired. The ticket price was Rs 50 per person. We bought tickets and went in. It was like any other monastery and it had the statue of Buddha and also had old paintings in it. It took 10-15 minutes to walk around the monastery and then we came back and took the pictures of the young monks there. They were very jovial and at the same time a bit shy too. We went to our car and Sourabh da wanted to capture the picture of a beautiful black and white colour bird there and he did and so did Saikat in his camera. Photography was restricted inside the monastery. The whole area looked like Uchisar Castle, Cappadocia.
Now we started our journey and after a while the driver halted at a place called Khalsi for his lunch, which is downhill. The restaurant where we halted looked impressive and they served north Indian dishes and thalis and we regretted for not having lunch there, but it would have been too late then. We preferred to have kahwa there but they didn't have kahwa and so we had black tea. Now I went to see the local shops nearby and Saikat asked me not to go alone. Sourabh da did not get down from the car.
Again we started our journey, after Zakir finished his lunch and our next stop was at the Magnetic hill or Gravity Hill. To the right of the hill is the Indus River. The layout of the hill creates an optical illusion of a hill. The vehicle would move automatically in the reverse direction due to the magnetic property and the driver demonstrated it to us - since we asked him to show it. We later learnt that this is actually an optical illusion. Saikat and I went down to take pictures and I took his picture standing near the bikes there. You can hire ATV motorcycle to go to the mountains.
Then we stopped at Sangam Confluence at Nimmu. The confluence is located at Nimmu on Leh-Srinagar highway, it is the confluence of Indus (Sindhu) and Zanskar rivers. Zanskar river coming from Zanskar valley of Union Territory of Ladakh, meets the Indus river at Nimmu and offers a spectacular view to the visitors. Indus is the lifeline of Ladakh which irrigates the dry land of the valley. It is possible to do rafting here.
On the way we saw a place called Lunar landscape or Moon land. It looks like lunar landscape and thus the name.
We again started our journey. We reached Leh in the evening at around 6 pm or so. We checked in to hotel - The Leh. The hotel was really very nice and they welcomed us by welcome drinks. They served us tea at the reception. We all had milked tea then. The tea tasted well. After went to our rooms [201, 202, and 203]. Our was room no. 203. We checked in and then Tanwi and I went to the local shops near the hotel and we bought some Tibetan jewellery, I bought one bracelet and earring for myself. After around 45 minutes Saikat joined us. We then went to the Leh market and Saikat bought his much awaited mask at Rs 3800 - the famous mahakal mask and some prayer flag for his friends. The mask was really impressive. Tanwi bought one T shirt for herself from the same shop. It had many other Tibetan souvenirs and artifacts - as such most of them were impressive. Saikat searched for liquor but he couldn’t find any.
We came back to the hotel, freshened up and had dinner. In the mean time, we got to know that Sourabh da was not feeling well and his Oxygen saturation level had fallen down to 73 and he took rest in his room. We all were worried, he was been provided with oxygen from the cylinder. He slept in his room.
We went to the restaurant to have dinner. The spread was nice and it had chapattis, veg pulao, dal, mixed veg, paneer capsicum, mushroom masala and gulab jamun for desert along with salad and papad. They also served soup and chicken curry. Dinner was served to Sourabh da in his room - but later we came to know that he hardly ate, as he was not feeling well. In fact he took some Oxygen late at night.
5th May 2022
Now the next day we got up and freshened up and went to Sourabh da’s room to check his condition and his oxygen level was around 76, even though he said that he was feeling better. We all decided that it won’t be advisable to take him to the high altitude and it is better that he should go back to Delhi or else his health might deteriorate.
Bappa da suggested that he can stay back with Sourabh da, but Sourbah da didn’t want to spoil anyone’s trip. So he asked to book his tickets for Delhi and if he felt better he would go to Shekhawati region in Rajasthan. We were all stunned seeing Sourabh da’s confidence , but after all he is Sourabh da, a very passionate traveler.
Saikat booked tickets for Sourabh da by Air India flight from Leh to Delhi at a quite reasonable rate. Sourabh da looked depressed as he couldn’t complete the trip with us and so were we, but health comes first.
I made tea for Sourabh da and gave bourbon biscuit to him that I had with me. Bappa da took Sourabh da to the doctor in Government hospital and give him medicines. We were told the Government hospital is quite impressive. The doctor gave him medicines, deraphylin injection and oxygen and his Oxygen level reached 99 after 30 minutes. They came back to the hotel and Sourabh da had breakfast and seeing the bread, he asked whether there is salaami in it J. In the meantime Sourabh da called his wife Mohua di but she didn’t picked up the call and then he asked me to try from my phone and I did, but she didn’t picked up. After sometime she ranged me back and I handed over the phone to Sourabh da.
Then we all said goodbye to Sourabh da as he headed towards the airport. Bappa da went to drop him and we waited for Bappa da to come back.
I (yours truly) safely landed in Delhi and went to straight to my friend's house in CR Park. I took airport express Metro and finally got down at Nehru Place. From there I took an auto rickshaw to reach CR Park. Jaideep had reconstructed their house in CR Park. The builder gave them 3 floors of around 1200 Sq ft and the builder kept one flat for him, which was eventually sold for Rs 2.25 Crores or Rs 22.5 Million !! New Delhi has allowed the buildings in CR Park to be made 4 storied. So everybody is doing that in CR Park. There is construction going on all over the place.
I had lunch with them and and met his parents after a long time. In the evening I went to see the markets in CR Park, Kalibari - all the places where I used to go between 1999-2002, when I was working in a Central Govt Co. It has changed a lot. The markets are not recognizable any more. I had to rush back to their house to have dinner with them. Jaideep mostly work from his house (WFH) and his work starts from afternoon till late at night. He has to visit his office once or twice a week.
6th May 2022
I had breakfast with them and went to Maholla clinic started by Arvind Kejriwal Govt in front of DDA Flat 56 Block, CR Park - where I used to stay, to check my Oxygen level, BP etc. Everything was normal. I was quite impressed with the Maholla clinic. They gave me medicines too - all without any charges. I went to Market 3 and met Mej-da who used to run a street side snacks stall in front of our 56 Block. Now he has bought a shop in Market no. 3. He is doing quite well.
Then I went to Jaideep's house to have lunch. Then I bought night bus tickets to go to Nawalgarh from Delhi. I used Redbus.com website to buy the ticket. I took the bus at 2100 hours from Delhi Cantonment area. The bus is not very good. Since Didi went to Nawalgarh last month, so she gave me the contact number of Sandeep Sharma - One of the most famous guides of Nawalgarh (+91 98283 37483 / +91 70141 75289). He arranged for a budget homestay in Nawlagarh - DS Bungalow. The bus passes by Sikar. Some people got down at Sikar. Later I learnt my South Korean friend, Kim Min Young's husband teaches at Sikar.
7th May 2022
Since I reached very early in the morning, Sandeep Sharma told me to come to Podar Gate or Poddar Gate in Nawalgarh - where he was waiting for me. It was around 0600 hours ! Everybody seems to know him. He opened the gate of a Haveli - Morarka Haveli. The key was with him. He told me to wait there till somebody comes to pick me up from a homestay - DS Bungalow. At this hour no homestay would allow me to check in. He is really a nice and helpful person. Without his help, I would have been in deep trouble. Somebody came to pick me up at around 9 am from the guest house with his bike. The homestay is owned by Bunty. Because of Covid they have suffered a lot. It was recommended by French, Israeli and Korean Travel guide. So many foreigners stay here. But no foreigners came here in last 2 years.
I had Chanch (Salty Lassi), Roti and Achar as breakfast. They served tea too. After taking some rest, I left for exploring the havelis by foot. I took a shared auto to reach a place near Poddar Haveli.
The semi arid region of North Eastern Rajasthan (erstwhile Rajputana) is known as Shekhawati. The territory derives her name from the Shekhawat Rajput clan scion Maha Rao Shekha Ji, who established his rule in the 15th Century. After him , his offspring flourished the land with different forms of art and culture for centuries, thus it is called Shekhawati (The garden of Rao Shekha).
Today’s Shekhawati includes whole of Jhunjhunu and Sikar districts, along with parts of Churu, Jaipur, Alwar & Nagaur. Shekhawati has the greatest concentration of painted forts, chhatris (cenotaphs), temples and havelis (mansions) in the country. In fact, this is also the largest collection of murals in India.
The earlier frescoes in this colourful fantasy world were financed by the Shekhawat Rajputs and later the wealthy business class of the Marwar region – the marwaris – patronized the art. Apart from adding vitality to the flat landscape, the frescoes are an interesting documentation of the history of the region. Some of the flourishing towns were Nawalgarh, Mandawa, Sikar, Ramgarh, Fatehpur, Lachhmangarh, Churu, , Jhunjhunu.
Although the idea of frescoes might have been imported from the Mughals, it reached a completely new form in the hands of the artists of Shekhawati, where the West fuses with the East and mythology is at peace with cars, aeroplanes and balloons. I learnt that the artist at that point of time never saw a train. So they had to go outside Sekhawati to see how a train looks like, before drawing.
After the reign of Rajputs, came the British. The latter patronized their own kind of trade which required the marwaris to rush to fresh pastures like Calcutta and Bombay. Thus the beautiful Shekhawati towns gradually came to be abandoned.
It is only in the last two decades that the Shekhawati region acquired a fillip, with its art being the central focus and the children of the house of Maharao Shekha Ji are now back, opening their dusty family castles and turning them into hotels. Many of the famous businessmen in India are from Shekhawati.
Source : https://www.shekhawati.in/about-shekhawati/
Nawalgarh and Mandawa are probably the most famous one - where tourists visit.
The crown jewel of Shekhawati - Nawalgarh
Nawalgarh is located 100 km away from Jaipur and is the first town of repute as you enter Shekhawati from Sikar road. Located midway between Jhunjhunu and Sikar towns, Nawalgarh is the crown jewel of the Shekhawati region. It was also the hometown of some of India’s biggest industrialists’ families and thus had the most ostentatiously painted mansions. However very few of them were in very well preserved condition and a few of them were professionally run as Hotels.
Founded by a Thakur Nawal Singh Bahadur in 1737 AD, Nawalgarh was a fortified town with high walls which had been surmounted by 4 gates or Pols. Iron gates made these entrances nearly impenetrable and the Bala Kila Fort occupied the center of the town. Fatehgarh Fort stood outside it and the well-laid-out lanes were interspersed with markets and havelis.
Traditional havelis in India were typically built around a courtyard and different parts of the haveli were designated for different activities.
Since the purdah system in those times was observed strictly, a zenana (ladies section) was built specifically for the women folk.
Men would discuss important matters of business in the guest rooms or baithaks.
The havelis adorn fresco paintings of Hindu deities, animals, British and Indian rulers and interesting historical instances.
The 3 types of Fresco art that you’ll majorly see in these parts are : decorative, descriptive and portraits. Wooden doors and windows feature vibrant images of animals, flora and geometrical patterns.
Anandi Lal Poddar Haveli - Poddar Haveli is one of the finest that Nawalgarh had to offer. An excellently restored haveli - famous for its intricate frescoes. It houses the Dr Ramnath A. Poddar Haveli Museum which was originally built in 1920. This is one of the few havelis in Shekhawati that have been restored to its original glory. The murals include scenes from the life of Krishna along with more modern subjects including steam trains. The haveli also houses a small series of exhibits showcasing various aspects of Rajasthani life. For a small ticket, you are taken around on a guided tour by Sunil Ji who is passionate about showing the Rajasthani culture. I had a long chat with him. Sandip ji has told me about him.
Do not miss this video, where Sunil ji explains everything very nicely.
It’s 750 paintings are well preserved and documented.
Cultural Museum : The upper rooms of the Haveli have been converted into a museum showcasing different cultural aspects of Rajasthan like:
· Bridal dresses of different communities of Rajasthan.
· Head gears of different communities.
· Models of famous forts of Rajasthan.
· Different miniature painting styles of Rajasthan.
· Handicrafts of the desert state.
· Musical Instruments of the state.
· Gems & Jewellery.
· Festivals of Rajasthan.
· Gandhi Room duly reminds you of the roots of these Havelis during the Indian Independence movement.
Paintings : Some of the painting series you should not miss at Poddar Haveli are:
· Jayadeva’s Geeta Govinda.
· 10 Mahavidya painted in chambers around Baithak.
· Lakshmi on top of the Baithak door.
· Mahabharata Chaupar game painting.
· False windows that create symmetry, with people peeping through them as if they are wondering – who is this visitor in our home.
· Festival of Gangaur with all its details.
· A long stream engine driven rail along with a scene depicting the construction of the railway line.
· A portrait of British as well as Indian traders.
· Large portraits of the contemporary elite on the outer walls.
Other Havelis in Nawalgarh :
Moraka Haveli - Its principal
courtyard has murals of Shiva, Parvati and Krishna, and a baithak (a lounge or sitting place) in traditional
Rajasthani style. The door leading to the inner courtyard is a fine work of
art. It is in front of Poddar Haveli.
Bhagton ki Choti Haveli - Located near the market, this haveli boasts of a different and varied selection of murals, including a European-style angel and Queen Victoria, and there is Krishna and Radha on a swing. There is one painting of seven women in the shape of an elephant.
Aath Haveli Complex - An eight havelis complex, although only six of them were completed, here are some of the finest murals in a range of styles in Shekhawati. The Muraka Haveli has a richly painted exterior, with elephants, horses and a pair of fine blue carriages plus miniatures showing scenes from the life of Krishna.
Other havelis of note are Khedwal Haveli, Kulwal Haveli, Surajmal Chhauchharia Haveli, Pannalal Mansingka Haveli, Khokhani Haveli and the Jodhraj Patodia Double Haveli.
The Krishna Temple here dates from the 18th century and has some delicate chhatris.
I saw most of these havelis walking and explored the town.
There is a wide range of accommodation available for all budgets in Nawalgarh. In the afternoon I left for Roop Niwas Kothi, where my sister stayed few months back. It is at the end of the Nawalgarh. It is managed by the royals of Nawalgarh - is a luxurious hotel where you can unwind and experience Rajasthani hospitality at its best. The lush surroundings of the Roop Niwas Kothi, a beautiful esplanade, and an inviting pool make this Kothi is an ideal homestay for visitors. If you’re interested in horse, don’t look any further. In the afternoon there is a horse show. For residents it is free of cost. Roop Niwas Kothi is one of the oldest hotels that offer an authentic horse riding experience.
Today after breakfast I left for Mandawa by local bus. Apparently the only direct bus left for Mandawa, before I reached the bus stop . I had to change one bus at Mukandgarh to reach Mandawa. It is around 28 Km from Nawalgarh and took more than 1 hour to reach.
The town of Mandawa evolved as a trading outpost on the ancient trade route between China and the Middle East in the 18th century. The ruler of Nawalgarh, Thakur Nawal Singh built a fort here to protect the town. Over time, this village attracted a large number of merchants who travelled the Silk Road. They ended up building beautiful homes and turned a trading town into a settlement.
After reaching Mandawa I met a guide, Abhishek (+91 88904 08310) who charged less than what he normally charges (i.e. Rs 200) to show most of the places in Mandawa. At the end of tour he took me to a shop where I bought one 'throw' for my bed. Mandawa is a popular place for shooting. The shooting of PK took place here. They showed me the exact location. Since it is less crowded compared to Nawalgarh, probably it is a better place for shooting. Without a guide you will have problem in locating all the havelis - since maps are not available.
The places to see in Mandawa are :
1. Mandawa fort or castle is one of the prime attractions of Mandawa. Mandawa fort was built in 1755 AD by Thakur Nawal Singh who was the first descendant of Shekhawati region. The Mandawa fort has now has been converted in to a heritage hotel where tourist can stay and enjoy the sheer luxury experience of Rajasthani culture and heritage.
2. The Hanuman Prasad Goenka Haveli
The Hanuman Prasad Goenka presented a true example of Rajasthani art work and heritage. This haveli was built by the famous business family “Goenka” in the 19th century. This beautiful haveli consists of beautiful painting, carvings, arches, pillars and courtyards. Here you will find the beautiful paintings of Lord Shiva sitting on Bull , Lord Indra is sitting on the elephant and many other mythological characters. This haveli is having special courtyards, spacious rooms and walls painted with frescoes. This is one of the prime attraction of Mandawa town.
3. Saraf Haveli
The Mohanlal Saraf Haveli Mandawa is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Mandawa. This haveli was built in 18th century. In Mohanlal Saraf Haveli you will visit beautifully carved archways, intricate designing beautifully carved windows showcasing a vintage charm of Rajputana era.
4. Gulab Rai Ladia Haveli
The Gulab Rai Ladia Haveli is one of the most famous palatial haveli of Mandawa. This is a perfect example of art, architecture and heritage of Rajput rules. The main attraction of this haveli is wooden carved gates and latticed windows.
5. Murmuria Haveli
Murmuria Haveli is one among the top attraction of Mandawa Town. This unique haveli built by the traders of this town during 18th century. This haveli is famous for depicting the beautiful paintings, ancient sculptures of gods and goddesses along with freedom fighters and political leaders. The beautiful paintings includes the paintings of cars. George V, Jawahar lal Nehru sitting on horse and lord Krishna with his cows. You will also see a long painting of train, where a crow is flying on the top of train engine.
6. The Chokhani Double Haveli
The Chokhani Double Haveli was built by the famous chokhani family who was the rich merchants of that time. This double story haveli built in 1910 by the two brothers of Chokhani merchant family. This beautiful house built in two different wings - housing paintings of British soldiers, Lord Krishna, cars, Peacock, wrestling scenes, hunting and Rajasthani traditions. When I visited this place,restoration work was going on in one of the havelis. Other haveli was not resorted by the other brother. So they are a study in contrast.
Mandawa is relatively smaller placed compared to Nawalgarh and takes lesser time to visit. But if you are on your own, you may miss many havelis - unless you have lot of time in hand.
Again I took a bus to go back to Nawalgarh and reached before evening. I did some birding at the backyard of Bunty's house. If you are scared of dogs, then you have to be bit careful to stay in this haveli. After having my dinner, I took the night bus to reach Delhi. Bunty's son dropped me at the bus stop.
9th May 2022