The ‘good old days’ we often use this phrase and how often we wish to turn back the time of lost days. It is not just the moments that we live it is also about the place that beonged to those moments. Such places have their own memory and they tell us the century old tales in the best way possible. The most incredible thing about a historical place is its ability to revive the history it has live or rather outlived. Our Incredible country is blessed with such historical wonders. Though India is home to several historical monuments but the real history lies in the back lanes of small villages.
Regions like Shekhawati, Rajasthan carries history on its shoulders and narrates several tales to its modern day visitor. Shekhawati is located in North Rajasthan comprising districts of Jhunjhunu, Sikar, Churu and a part of Nagaur and Jaipur. Shekhawati was first mentioned in the book Bankidas ki Khyat. Contemporary of Bankidas was Colonel W.S. Gardener, who used the word Shekhawati in 1803. Later James Tod wrote the first history of Shekhawati. It is the Jhunjhunu district, where you find the jewel called ‘Mandawa’. Mandawa is almost 170kms from the capital city of Jaipur and the roads will take you so much back in time. The stunning havelis, sarais, or baoris from days of yore, are the living testaments of the glorious part of this beautiful state.
It is considered as one of the oldest inhabited places of the region. It was founded in 18th century by the rich merchant families notably Harlalkas, Goenkas, and others. It was also a part of the famous ‘silk route’ from the history books. All the havelis are adorned with beautifully painted frescoes on the walls and ceilings depicting Rajput rulers, traditions, mythological events and general daily happenings. Most of the havelis are however not accessible from inside, as they are locked or entry is barred by the owners. However, one can view a considerable amount of frescoes from a streetside view on foot. It is because this rich heritage and history Mandawa is also referred to as an ‘open-air art gallery’.
At first, Mandawa is just any other rural hamlet. But as you explore the labyrinth of the various unnamed streets, you realise how soaked it is in culture and history. Mandawa is a very easy day trip from Jaipur.
The Historical Harlalka Haveli
Though there are several Havelis in Mandawa are in a sad state, and deseperatley needs restoration and conservation efforts. But, it’s not all lost there is a Haveli not only well kept but well restored in order to offer the taste of ‘Shekhwati Shaan’. A well known family of the region, Harlalka’s still carry their royal heritage with their royal hospitality. In the heart of Mandawa this 300-years old structure is painstakingly restored. Harlalka Haveli, almost 275 Years old palatial mansion of the Harlalka family is one of the biggest and oldest haveli’s of Mandawa. The Harlalka Well and the Harlalka Chattri, a major tourist attraction of Mandawa were also built by this family near their palatial mansion. Harlalka haveli is the centre of this slow and dreamy town of historical wonders, where all the other sights are barely a 10 minutes’ walk. It will introduce you to a cosmopolitan way of life laced with an age-old grandeur and luxury of this town. A multi-cuisine restaurant, an iconic swimming pool with jacuzzi, and rooms with luxurious interiors.
The best of Mandawa can be found at your doorstep. Stroll through the local main bazaar; head out on an architectural exploration, pay pilgrimage at Harchandreshwar Mahadev Temple, visit a number of local Havelis; or simply feed the pigeons early in the morning at the Harlalka Haveli, Mandawa.
The ‘Baarah Dali’ or the dining area in lush green back lawns of the Harlalka Haveli is where you may spend your time and experience the luxury. The lawn was once home to the elephants of the Halalka Family, now it’s a place of leisure for one all.
So if you have had enough of Jaipur, explore nearby Mandawa. And if you plan to do it by road, the best time is now. After May it will get unbearably hot. When travelling from Jaipur to Mandawa, there are so many stunning pit stops that make the drive (or ride) worth every moment.
Harlalka Haveli is your chance to experience the taste of royalty, and listen the tales the walls of this histprical building narrates!