Mandawa – An Open Art Gallery – A Review
The town of Mandawa is literally an “open art gallery” and is located in Jhunjhunu district of Rajasthan in India – a part of Shekhawati region. By odometer Mandawa is exactly 270 km from Hotel Bristol Chowk (Gurgaon 0) on Mehrauli Gurgaon road, Gurgaon.
Mandawa was a trading outpost for the ancient caravan routes that stopped here from China and the Middle East. Thakur Nawal Singh, the Rajput ruler of Nawalgarh and Mandawa, built a fort in 1755 to protect the outpost. The township grew around the fort and attracted a large community of traders, who settled here. Today, Mandawa attracts tourists from world over who are left in awe with the frescoes on the Havelis and in the Mandawa Fort (also called Castle Mandawa) which is a heritage hotel now.
Mandawa is well connected with a vast network of roads, most of which are decent. The indecent ones are bone rattlers and will claim your tailbone especially if you are riding a motorcycle which I was. To minimise the damage it is better to use NH-8 till Behror (Midway Jaipur) and then take a left onto the Narnaul-Singhana road and further onto Rajasthan State Highway 26 from Singhana. The butter smooth highways of Rajashtan will take you from Chirawa to Jhunjhunu where the bone rattlers will resurface and so will desert sands covering the road on certain stretches.
Once this lousy stretch is over the road to Mandawa is a pleasure to be on irrespective of how many wheels you have under your bums. The entrance to Mandawa is not very welcoming. The first chowk (crossroads) is cluttered & broken. The privately built imposing gateway to Mandawa does tower over you and impresses but the presence of litter around kills the experience. I wonder, when it takes very little (just inspiration) to keep a town clean why doesn’t the municipality nincompoops move their fat asses and get on with the work. Mandawa earns tons of Benjamins every year and yet the city stinks.
The experience is only bettered by the beautiful fresco Havelis of Mandawa which why you should go to Mandawa at least once in your lifetime and spend a couple of days there simply walking through time and imagining the grandeur of these Havelis – the relics of a departed era. If art and culture is your calling, you are sure to be mesmerised by the charisma of this beautiful town decorated with frescoes. Your list needs to take you through the famous Havelis of Gulab Rai Ladia, Murmuria, Snehiram Ladia and Mohanlal Saraf. The murals in Thakurji temple depict soldiers being shot from the mouths of cannons, a reflection of the horrors of the Mutiny of 1857 so don’t miss this.
Adventure enthusiasts can indulge in camel safari to the Meethvaas village and interact with the local tribes, the Bishnois and Bhils. You will also come across settlements of potters, weavers & shepherds and if you are lucky some desert wildlife too. Keep your cameras ready at all times.
Spend your evening in Mandawa and enjoy the hustle bustle of the local bazaar that is lined on the only road through the city of Mandawa. Be careful of the “Lapkas” – the local unauthorised guides who may offer great bargains and leave you with not much except for disappointment. The roads are narrow and traffic jams are usual. The town sleeps off by 10 in the night so there is not much of a nightlife unless you are travelling in a group.
While Mandawa is losing its breathtaking beauty due to nature’s claim, negligence, vandalism and urban pressures, it still has a lot to offer. Take a weekend off and check it out before it loses its sheen completely.
- Information etc.
- Information etc.
- Where to stay?
- Route Map from Gurgaon
GPS Coordinates: 28.05°N 75.15°E
Elevation: 316 m (1,037 ft)
Official Language: Hindi
Time zone: IST (UTC+5:30)
Vehicle registration: RJ-18