Founded in the 18th century, the medieval fort of Mandawa gradually rises on the horizon like a mirage. A painted arched gateway adorned with Lord Krishna and his cows leads to the bazaar. The Chokhani and Ladia havelis and the street with Saraf havelis are some of the splendid examples of this region's havelis.
This semi desert region of Shekhawati is a colorful fantasy having a fascination uniquely of its own. 'The open-air art gallery', as it is popularly called is famous for its plethora of painted havelis, all commendable pieces of the rich artistic traditions of this region.
Shekhawati's magnificent havelis or mansions, built by rich merchants of the region, display a unique architectural style that evolved around the courtyards to ensure safety and privacy of the women folk and protection from the heat of the long and harsh summers.
The havelis, painted predominantly in blue, maroon, yellow, green and indigo have beautiful wall paintings that adorn their walls. The earlier wall paintings (1830 AD – 1900 AD) were largely based on the mythological themes, depicting local legends, animals, portraits, hunting and wrestling scenes and a glimpse of everyday life.
The turn of the 19th century saw the appearance of new motifs, an outcome of the Raj's influence upon the Indian culture. Now, cars replaced elephants and traditional Indian miniatures mingled with naturalism of western paintings to produce interesting hybrid results. The mythological themes depicting Gods, heroes, epics and legends were substituted by European oleographs, lithographs and photographs.
Trains, cars, balloons, telephones, gramophones, English men in hunting attires and portraits of the haveli owners primely dressed, were painted all over the walls – thus making the havelis interesting for both Indian and foreign travelers.
|Page No.: 1 2|