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History brought alive

Madhuri Shukla |

Nawalgarh, a historical city situated in the land of Royal Rajasthan, is hardly 270 km from Delhi, yet unknown to many. This Shekhawati region has a glorious past and was known as a business hub for silk and spices in the 18th century.

This royal land is also native to prominent names such as Dhanshyamdasji Birla, GD Goenka and Laxmichand Mittal. However, the main attraction for tourists, particularly the French, is the presence of more than 150 havelis in the area.

The French are fond of haveli art work and frequently visit this place. Camel dance and horse dance are also very popular here, adding to the tourist attraction. A splendid sight is Mahendra Singh, dancing with a camel and horse simultaneously to provide entertainment to visiting tourists.

Singh has already completed his graduation in Arts but is without job, so has chosen this profession for his bread and butter. Explaining about Haveli art, Dinesh Sharma, a tourist guide, apprised that earlier, owners of havelis were businessmen who loved art work.

The imagination, creativity blended in tradition, is noteworthy. For instance, the main gate of a haveli is built in such a manner that it can open both horizontally and vertically. The purpose behind this is that if a groom comes on elephant he would not have to bend in front of the bride’s family.

It is only Morarka Haveli Museum in the Shekhawati region that has paintings of Jesus Christ on the outer west wall and inner court yard. There are also scenes of a royal procession, inscribed heroes and Dhola Maru on the outer and inner facades. Other themes like Krishna Leela, Ramayana, Shiva, Ganesh and Laxmi are also depicted on the walls.

Historical origin

There is also an interesting history behind the name of Shekhavati. The story of MahaRao Shekha- Ji’s birth is interesting. Mokul Ji was a 15th century chieftain in the Amber territory who was much troubled because he had no son. In those days, it was almost sinful for a ruler to die without an heir, for who would sit on the throne after his death?

So, having heard a lot about the miraculous powers of the Muslim saint Sheikh Burhan Chisti, Mokul Ji and his wife decided to pay the saint a visit. With the blessings of the Sheikh, a son was born to the Rajput couple. Mokul Ji christened his boy Shekha, who was to become the founder of Shekhawati or the “Garden of Shekha”, an important part of Rajputana.

This historical city has a huge potential to become a hub for domestic and foreign tourists but, unfortunately, not much interest is being taken to develop this area in spite of it being easily accessible from Delhi. Churu desert is hardly 60 km from Nawalgarah. The popoular tourist circuit ~ Delhi-Amer Fort-Navalgarh ~ can be explored together and this can not only increase revenue in this area but also create jobs for local youth.

Recently, a four-day festival of Shekhawati was jointly organised in Nawalgarh by M R Morarka GDC Rural Research Foundation, Rajasthan Art, Culture and Tourism Department and District Administration Jhunjhunu.

This was enjoyed immensely by domestic and foreign tourists. Musical nights at Standduens near Mukundgarh fort, folk dances, cart race and camel rides were among the main attraction besides a variety of organic food that the visitors enjoyed.

Kamal Morarka, from the M R Morarka Foundation, who is a far-sighted veteran, has a passion for India’s rural development and a will to enhance the respect for cultural heritage in India’s future generation.

He is keen to develop this region as a tourist destination but lacks support. If you are fond of art, culture and tradition, do explore this untouched destination this week end. After all, it is just a long drive from Delhi.