Havelis in the Shekawati region

Trip Start Aug 09, 2008
Trip End Aug 2009

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Flag of India  , Rajasthan,
Friday, December 12, 2008

Nawalgarh is a small bustling town about 3 hours north of Jaipur. The 250 year-old town is a maze of little narrow streets with shops catering more to the locals than tourists. This is the Shekhawati region and it is known for its Havelis (traditional ornately decorated residences). There are many havelis that are still being lived in so we only saw them from the outside, but a few have been converted to museums and we were able to access them.

A guide at one haveli museum explained the layout of the haveli to us; open platform outside the entrance gate, main decorated gates with wooden carving, two open courtyards and living rooms with windows for proper air and light. The haveli walls were covered with frescoes (decorated art) and the level of detail in the drawings and architecture was absolutely amazing, considering that the artwork had to be applied before the plaster had set.

We stayed at Apani Dhani, an eco lodge,which was the main attraction for us to this out of the way town. The owner of the lodge travelled and lived in Europe for a while and when he came back to his village in India he realized a need to preserve and enhance the environment.

Ramesh built a series of traditional mud huts around a bougainvillea-shaded courtyard. Our hut had comfortable beds and a sitting area. It also had some lights operated by solar panels, and hot water was supplied by a solar hot water system. Meals were provided in a common room, and most of the produce for the vegetarian meals came from the adjoining organic farm.

The lodge turned out to be a tranquil place to rest for a few days, away from the hustle and bustle of the towns and cities we had been traveling through. It was also an enlightening experience to see what someone could do to help reduce our consumption of non-renewable resources. Ramesh is also active in his local community, providing funds to a school for disabled children, and raising awareness about the need to preserve cultural heritage sights like the havelis.
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