Shekhawati Day 2 (Afternoon) – Nawalgarh & Dundlod

Read in continuation with mandawa/


We made haste of lunch. It was still past 2 pm when I & dad could marry up with our guide Ayub who was calling us frantically from outside the hotel. Mom decided to stay back & rest, having had enough of the havelis for the day.

We decided to start with the farthest town, Nawalgarh, & then work our way closer to Mandawa covering Dundlod & Mukundgarh on the way. Considering the time the plan looked ambitious but we decided to give it our best shot anyways.


It was 4 pm when we reached Nawalgarh. Though the distance to our destination wasn’t much, the narrow state road with its motley traffic consisting of light & heavy vehicles mixed with goats, cattle & camels had slowed us to a cautious speed.

Our first stop was at the Bansidhar Bhagat haveli. An unspectacular exterior hid many gems inside which began to reveal themselves as soon as we enetered its portals.

The crumbling facade of Bansidhar Bhagat haveli at Nawalgarh

Of all the mansions that I had seen so far, this seemed to be bestowed with the best murals, frescoes & paintings with probably the best ones reserved for the ceilings!

A flying Angel painted on the ceiling


Shiva, Parvati & Ganesha

The newfound obsession of the wealthy with trains, aircrafts & steam ships continued here & was prominently on display.

Sometimes the composition of paintings (like the one below) didn’t make much sense except that the painter was tasked to depict everything in vogue in one image – the steamship, row boats & cannons!


A very popular Rajasthani painting showing Krishna & Radha on top of an elephant which is shaped by the Gopis

Having finished with the foyer we entered the outer courtyard. The layout & structure of havelis here too was the same as in Mandawa.

Outer courtyard of Bansidhar Bhagat haveli

Every inch of what was visible seemed to be covered with dazzling paintings of all themes & colours. It was obviously impossible to capture each such gem in a different frame & I regretted the lack of time or technology to do justice to what I saw before my eyes!

A horse-drawn carriage piloted by a native with ‘sahibs’ & ‘mems’ as passengers & curious onlookers standing on an overbridge


Images of local kings & wealthy businessmen jostle for space with those of visiting foreign dignitaries while scenes from epics & battles play out on the door frame below

There was much more still to see & photograph outside but we were literally running against time. With a heavy heart I dragged myself to the core of the haveli only to be surprised by the lack of same grandeur which had greeted us in the outer perimeter!

Inner courtyard of Bansidhar Bhagat haveli

It appeared that the first owners who had commissioned the paintings had kept the best works for the public eye which was restricted only to the foyer & outer courtyard with not having bestowed the same love to the interiors.

The paintings were more faded, poorly maintained & even the re-touching work which appeared to be in progress left a lot to be desired.

A painting being restored at the Bansidhar Bhagat haveli

We climbed up to the first floor to have a look at the rooms there & found one with interesting art & vibrant colours.

We continued our climb further to the roof to have a better look at the surroundings & found a hithertofore hidden treasure of more frescoes on the outer walls of the 1st & 2nd floors!

Meanwhile, a haveli which might have seen better times was now crumbling across the street with the few faded paintings adorning its walls bearing testimony to a past glory.

Having spent a full 30 mins exploring this masterpiece of art we exited & were shepherded to the Morarka haveli, our next pit stop.

This haveli was smaller & less ornate than the previous one that we had just seen. The paintings & frescoes however did justice to our effort of visiting the premises.

A pillared & lavishly painted porch in the outer courtyard


God & Goddesses share space with Chieftains & European officers on the walls of the outer courtyard

We entered the sanctum sanctorum & with nothing much to see on the ground level climbed to the first floor. A panoramic image of the interiors of the haveli presented itself from that height.

A view of the outer courtyard of Morarka haveli with faded but majestic paintings

Meanwhile, a vintage horse drawn buggy lay rusted in an annexe.

Though there was still much more to see in Nawalgarh we were racing against time & so with a heavy heart headed off to Dundlod.

It was past 5.30 pm when we reached our destination. We decided to restrict ourselves to just one haveli here to give us a chance of catching the sunset from one of the Chhatris (cenotaphs) at Mukundgarh subsequently.

The Seth Arjundas Goenka haveli seemed to have been renovated with the sole purpose of tourism. The outer courtyard displayed enactments of a cow shed one one side & a meeting in progress on the other as things might have been during the haveli’s heydays.


We were informed that the foremost person in the picture who used to opearte the manual fan always had to be deaf so that he could not be privy to the minutes of the meeting

We entered the inner courtyard. An effort had been made to preserve & present some rooms in their original shape while depicting the daily routines that they were meant for.

Food under preparation in the kitchen

Again, while the best art had been kept for the outside the interiors also boasted of some colourful paintings.

The paintings around this door seemed to have been recently restored with the bottom most ones still requiring work


A wall with an assortment of the divine & human forms

It was now 6 pm. With mom calling us repeatedly to inquire about our well-being & exhorting us to finish our sightseeing & return immediately to Mandawa we had no choice but to obey. There was no chance of hitting Mukundgarh at this time as the havelis & cenotaphs would have shut down for the day anyways. As regards the sunset…sigh!!!




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