Storytellers of a new generation
There's More To Mandawa Than Bajrangi Bhaijaan And PK

There's More To Mandawa Than Bajrangi Bhaijaan And PK

The hand painted havelis and forts of Mandawa make this the 'open art gallery' of Rajasthan.

It was my second trip to Mandawa. My first visit to this small town in the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan had led me to a beautiful heritage part of India. Around 5-6 hours away from Delhi by road, it lies in the Jhunjhunu district of Rajasthan. 

What attracted me to Mandawa and the neighbouring towns of Nawalgarh and Fatehpur are their havelis and forts. Adorned with the most amazing hand painted frescoes, they are famously known as the "open art gallery" of Rajasthan. The photographer in me was captivated by the splendour and architectural finesse of these buildings. 

Since it’s a very small town, half a day enabled me to walk the length and breadth of it. Talking to the locals I figured most of the havelis are 300 years old and belong to rich merchants who traded across borders. The art and carvings depict the royal and rich nature of the traders and the finesse of the artists of that time. Every haveli has its own painting depiction. The owners still live in some of them, and the rest are taken care of by local caretakers. These are open for visitors, some of them free and some at a cost of about Rs. 100 rupees.

The best part of my trip was the early morning walks catching the sunrise in the lanes of the town which made me admire its real beauty. I could smell the fresh preparations of pakodas and samosas in the small food outlets across the streets. With a cup of tea in my hand and these snacks, I would sit across the busy street watching local people do their daily chores. No one seemed to mind my presence or my non-stop questions. To add to the beauty of the place, our national bird, the peacock can be found on the streets flying from one point to another. 

The untouched beauty of the place may be the reason many famous movies have been filmed in Mandawa. Like Salman Khan’s Bajrangi Bhaijaan (Mandawa looked like Pakistan). Also some parts of PK (where Sanjay Dutt meets Aamir Khan and the “tharki chokro” song). How do I know this? The proud locals ensured they told me. 

No matter how many times I visit the place, I fall in love over and over again. Built centuries ago, these structures bring to life the traditions and ideals of a long-lost era. Other than exploring the hidden treasures of India, my agenda is to celebrate our heritage – the repository of our collective memories and aspirations. These pictures are my way of doing it.

Related: A Visual Journey Through Pushkar Mela

101 Mandawa
1. Mandawa is around 230 km from Delhi and is well connected by roads. 
2. Nearest airport is Jaipur.
3. The entire region has several luxury hotels and castles/havelis that have been converted into hotels. 
4. There are plenty of restaurants serving Rajasthani, North Indian and Chinese food. 
5. Suitable time to visit – winter season is the best (November to March).

Caretaker of the heritage

Caretaker of the heritage

Colourful entrance of a Haveli in Fatehpur

Colourful entrance of a Haveli in Fatehpur

Colourful stories in the haveli of Fatehpur

Colourful stories in the haveli of Fatehpur

Streets of Mandawa

Streets of Mandawa

Caretaker of Haveli in Mandawa

Caretaker of the haveli in Mandawa

Backyards for keeping horses

Backyards for keeping horses

Stories on the wall

Stories on the wall

Outer part of havelis in Mandawa

Outer part of havelis in Mandawa

Embedded stories in the haveli of Fatehpur

Embedded stories in the haveli of Fatehpur

Old journals, haveli of Nawalgarh

Old journals, haveli of Nawalgarh

Early morning walk in Mandawa

Early morning walk in Mandawa

Old ruins

Old ruins

Haveli of Nawalgarh

Haveli of Nawalgarh

Entrance of Podar Haveli Museum, Nawalgarh

Entrance of Podar Haveli Museum, Nawalgarh

Century old haveli where people still live and preserve it

Century old haveli where people still live and preserve it

Story on the wall

Story on the wall

Streets of Nawalgarh

Streets of Nawalgarh

Way to terrace in one of the haveli in Mandawa

Way to terrace in one of the haveli in Mandawa

Main market area of Mandawa

Main market area of Mandawa

Related: Life And Decay Coexist In The Ancient Village Of Ramgarh

 

 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are independent views solely of the author(s) expressed in their private capacity and do not in any way represent or reflect the views of 101india.com

By Garima Agarwal
Photographs by Garima Agarwal