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Snapshot: Mandawa

February 23, 2023

A small town with a great culture, Mandawa is a quaint town waiting to be explored

 

In the heart of Shekhawati region in Rajasthan lies Mandawa, a beautiful town best known for its forts and havelis (elaborate mansions). The small lanes and old architecture all contribute to its charm, so much so that it has become a popular backdrop for many Bollywood films. If you’re lucky you might even catch a glimpse of the stars at work.

 

The Ladia Haveli with colourful frescoes and paintings
The Ladia Haveli with colourful frescoes and paintings

 

Wealthy merchants are to thank for Mandawa’s existence. In the 18th century, they settled here and are responsible for the elaborate structures seen today. Over the years, Mandawa has become extremely tourist-friendly with a number of good hotels popping up, as well as quality restaurants catering to western palates.

 

What to buy

Mandawa is known as an open-air gallery. As you stroll through the narrow streets, you’ll notice that the buildings are decorated with intricate drawings of figures and objects in vibrant colours. You can also purchase artwork in similar designs at local markets.

 

Wooden Ganesha souvenirs in a stall in Mandawa.
Wooden Ganesha souvenirs in a stall in Mandawa.

 

The Mandawa Market, in particular, is a visual treat with many curios and paintings. Be sure to seek out the local antiques and handicrafts. Ornate chests, tables and chairs, and that one eclectic piece for your home can all be found here (and shipped to your home).

 

What to see

 

The Chokhani Double Haveli

Built for two brothers, this haveli is a great example of the joint family system still prevalent in India today. With two wings on either side connected by corridors and shared courtyards in the centre, the style adopted was typical of ancient Rajasthani forts with beautiful archways and allows of families residing together to still have (some) privacy.

 

The exterior architecture of Chokhani Double Haveli in broad daylight
The exterior architecture of Chokhani Double Haveli in broad daylight

 

The Hanuman Prasad Goenka Haveli

A favourite among historians, Hanuman Prasad Goenka Haveli is known for its gorgeous artwork and intricate carvings representing old Rajasthan when it was still under the rule of the Rajputs. Look out for paintings of Hindu gods like Lord Indra and Lord Shiva among others.

 

The Hanuman Prasad Goenka Haveli mansion with its faded frescoes
The Hanuman Prasad Goenka Haveli mansion with its faded frescoes

 

Murmuria Haveli

Built by a rich merchant, Murmuria Haveli has an interesting mix of paintings from cultural, social, and political significance. From pictures of King George V, the Italian city of Venice, cars, trains, Lord Krishna and the first Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru, you can see a varied landscape of artwork and influences making this an extremely interesting place to visit.

The paintings and architecture of the Gulab Rai Ladia Haveli and the Bansidar Newati Haveli are also unique with one having pictures of European women, a boy on a telephone and the other depicting pictures of animals and women during childbirth and birds among others.

 

Murmuria Haveli

Built by a rich merchant, the Murmuria Haveli has an interesting mix of paintings from cultural, social to political significance. From pictures of King George V, the city of Venice, cars, trains, Gods like Lord Krishna and the first Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru holding an Indian flag, you can see a varied landscape of artwork and influences making this an extremely exciting place to visit.

 

Fresco of the Maharaja in Rajasthan and his guests
Fresco of the Maharaja in Rajasthan and his guests

 

The paintings and architecture of the Gulab Rai Ladia Haveli and the Bansidar Newati Haveli are also unique with one having pictures of European women, a boy on a telephone and the other depicting pictures of animals and women during childbirth and birds among others.

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