Read in continuation with https://ghumakkarindian.com/2022/12/10/shekhawati-an-introduction/
My father had been wanting to visit Shekhawati for long. So had I. We finally got the opportunity in the winters of 2022. With no support for mom behind us she also bravely decided to tag along.
We had targeted a departure of 8 am but managed to kick off only by 9.45. No sooner had we exited the premises of our apartment complex that we got caught in the morning office hour rush. From there on it took us an hour to get past Gurgaon before I could hit the accelerator past 60 kmph at Manesar. We turned off the NH 8 just before Dharuhera onto NH 11 that would take us past the busy & dusty towns of Rewari, Narnaul, Singhana & Chirawa which slowed the progress somewhat with the traffic valiantly continuing to snail forward.
(Hot Tip : Use google maps instead of the car Garmin maps. There were bypasses around major towns which I missed as I was using the car GPS which took us directly though the congested cities slowing down our progress)
The road condition on the whole was much better than I had expected or gathered from the internet. There were a series of newly constructed highways which made driving a pleasure. There were of course some bad patches around some still under construction flyovers which one had to be careful while negotiating.
We stopped for tea at around 12.15 pm at a small eatery called Rajasthan Heritage just after crossing Narnaul. The idea was to have only tea quickly & then push forward to stop for lunch later but the steward’s mention of freshly made mixed pakoras on the menu sounded too irresistible to be refused. The pakoras indeed turned out to be heavenly & we later ended up skipping lunch in the bargain!
It was about 4.20 pm when we pulled off the highway & joined the cavalcade of cattle, vehicles & pedestrians all vying for their space on the narrow single lane street of Mandawa. I had managed to keep my car scratchless so far but wasn’t so sure of its future now. We however made it to our hotel Mandawa Haveli intact & in one piece. A little shaken but not stirred, as they say 🙂
I fell in love with the property at first sight. It boasted of a history of more than a hundred & fifty years & had been beautifully & painstakingly restored into a worthwhile hotel by its present owner.
After a quick tea & toasted sandwiches & with mom deposited safely in the room to rest, dad & I set out to explore the surroundings.
Mandawa is a small town & easily covered on foot. We had a list of havelis that we surely wanted to check out the next day & discovered that they lay within walking distance of our hotel. Meanwhile, a few helpful locals guided us to a set of Chhatris (cenotaphs) that though being in a dilapidated condition made for a pretty picture in the light of the setting sun.
Somewhere on the tour we also bumped into Ayub, a ‘guide’, & negotiated a deal with him to take us around the havelis next morning & also possibly escort us to the other nearby towns later in the day to see their offerings. Ayub turned out to be a good find & is strongly recommended. He can be reached at 9929352881.
It had begun to get dark by the time we reached the general surroundings of our hotel. With the streets quieter & highlighting of heritage structures on, Mandawa looked different by night.
A casual stroll through the tiny market’s bylanes revealed the best colours seen so far!
The entrance to our hotel too looked more majestic than it did during the day with the pictures & colours on the facade standing out in the bright focus lights.
A much longed for Rajasthani thali for dinner rounded off the day. The real action would start the next morning & I couldn’t wait to feast my eyes on the famous paintings, murals & frescoes that I had only seen in travel magazines so far & that I had travelled so far to witness first hand.