This is a semi desert region in north Rajasthan and it is situated entirely in the triangle between Delhi-Bikaner-Jaipur. Shekhawati is a region and not just a town or fort; it takes its name after its ruler Rao Shekha. Shekhawati means the garden of Shekha.
The towns of Shekhawati are eminent for their amazing painted havelis. Such is the appeal of the havelis that this region is dubbed as "open art gallery of Rajasthan". The plethora of painted Havelis in rich artistic tradition makes it commendable and fascinating. Most of the buildings are dated from 18th century to early 20th century. The Shekhawati landscape is dotted with so many havelis that tracking them is something like a treasure hunt. Various forms of fine art adorn the walls and the ceilings of these structures, complimenting the otherwise flat and barren land. The havelis are noted for their frescos depicting mythological themes and that of huge animals. Some later day frescos shows the arrival of the British and highlighting steam locomotives and train doubtlessly for the benefit of those members of the household who did not travel to distance places by train or see this newly introduced mode of transport.
There are also forts, minor castles, mosques, wells called baoris and chattris to discover. The Rajputs mostly depicted the themes of historical events, personages' folk-heroes and the prominent war scenes, while the Marwaris concentrated more on religious themes but with the passage of time the themes too began to divert towards the modern views.
At the decline of Mughal Empire after the death of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in 1707 the descendants of Rao Shekha encroached upon areas west of Aravali Range also. The chieftains of the region retained nominal loyalty to Amber, who in turn honoured them with the title of 'tazmi sardars'. It was probably this exposure to the courts of Jaipur that encouraged these thakurs initiate their great succession of fresco. By the beginning of the nineteenth century British had established major ports at Calcutta (now Kolkata) and Bombay (now Mumbai) that were able to handle larger volumes of trade than ports in Gujarat. Moreover with Jaipur reducing its levies the Shekhawati route was almost abandoned by traders. However the Shekhawati merchants who were seasoned businessmen migrated en masse to the more lucrative centres of Calcutta and Bombay. Here they earned unparallel wealth and send huge sums home, which were used for building havelis, social welfare, wells, reservoirs, schools etc.
Founded in the 18th Century by Nawal Singh, it has some of the finest frescos in the Shekhawati region. A huge fort with colourful bazaar and numerous havelis with elaborate architecture makes it an interesting destination for a 1day / 1 night stay. There are a few prominent havelis like Anandilal Poddar Haveli, Aath Haveli, Hodh Raj Patodia Haveli etc., which are to be visited, and so are the two forts and the palace hotel Roop Niwas that is a beautiful heritage property and is renovated with modern facilities. The Palace offers spacious painted rooms, Luxurious interiors, graceful hospitality and great thematic evenings with sumptuous cuisine. The registered painting in their Art Gallery is a treat to the o visuals.