Rajasthan’s Shekhawati region offers a new genre of painterly traditions. This open art gallery is a delight for culture buffs as they travel across the districts of Sikar, Jhunjhunu and Churu where a string of havelis (mansions) lie richly illustrated by murals both in the interiors and the exteriors.
Mallyka Singh Dundlod of A Baisa's Adventures hails from one of the old Rajput families; Dundlod Fort is the old bastion of the Goenka business clan. On this village tour of the Goenka Haveli in Dundlod, you will discover the world of Shekhavati’s merchant princes, such as the Goenkas, Poddars, Birlas, Singhanias, Ruias etc, and the changes that came into their trade and commerce activities, because of the British.
In the late 19th century with the British moving commerce to the port hubs of Calcutta, Mumbai and Gujarat, the merchants of this region were forced to move their business centres to these port cities. Families were left behind till they were able to make good there. As businesses grew apace in the cities to where they had located, their families back home also prospered, resulting in the building of havelis, baolis, temples and dharamshalas. The wealthier ones even went on to commission cenotaphs, colleges and grander homes. Another form of this showcase of wealth was the art on the walls. The more elaborate the mural works on these Havelis, the stronger the message of the family’s wealth and social status.
Mallyka will personally lead you on this fun-filled village tour where you discover the haveli with its beautiful murals; you will enjoy close interactions with the artisans of some of the dying crafts of the village community.
Why you will love it
• Visit to 150-year-old merchant haveli
• Insight into Rajasthan’s world of the merchant princes
• Art as a showcasing of wealth
• A window into Shekhavati’s colonial linkages
• Interaction with local craftsmen
What you will experience
The tour leads you through the 150-year-old Goenka Haveli. By tradition, the walls of the homes of the merchants were illustrated by frescoes that reflected the narratives of their times and their lifestyles. Apart from the murals on the walls and ceilings, you will adore the beautiful doors that seem to be works of art in themselves.
A very important aspect of the village tour is your interaction with the local community and its artisans. You get to visit the local school run by the family, which provides free education to underprivileged children; you will also enjoy a hands-on experience of cooking on a clay stove (chulah) at a family home. Another important part of the tour involves the family’s attempt to revive the fast dying arts of lac bangle making of the Manihar community and pottery of Lohar community in the village. You will get to try your hand at making your own lac bangles and at pottery at the homes of the local artisans.