In the heart of the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan lies the beautiful small town Mandawa, known throughout the state for its forts and Havelis.
It took us 3 hours to reach Mandawa from Bikaner, a distance of 190kms. The roads were good as usual.
Once we reached Mandawa, we maneuvered through narrow lanes to the ‘Hotel Heritage Mandawa’ we
had booked in. It was fascinatingly wonderful. The frescoes on the walls and arches all over were impressive. Our room was ethnically decorated too. Had a delicious lunch and set out to explore the ‘Open art gallery’ of Mandawa.
Founded in the 18th century, the medieval fort of Mandawa dominates the town with a painted arched
gateway adorned with Lord Krishna and his cows. The Chokhani and Ladia havelis and the street with Saraf
havelis are some of the splendid examples of this region's havelis.
The Binsidhar Newatia Haveli has some curious paintings on its outer eastern wall-a boy using a telephone, and a European woman in a car driven by a chauffeur. The Gulab Rai Ladia Haveli has some defaced erotic images.
The historic town of Mandawa served as a trading outpost for the caravans coming from Middle East and China. It was in 1755 that the Rajput ruler, Thakur Nawal Singh got the Mandawa Fort and ramparts around the city constructed for the safety of the trading outpost.
Displaying the skillful craftsmanship of Rajput artisans is the Goenka Double Havelis. The haveli is adorned by life-size portraits of the royal men, traditional Rajasthani women, and religious motifs. The Hanuman
Prasad Goenka Haveli has religiously inspired frescoes, like Lord Shiva on Nandi and Lord Indra on his elephant. The Jhunjhunwala Haveli is famous for its intricately carved and painted ceiling and golden leaf
painted walls. Carved archways, latticed windows and intricate designs are found in Murmuria Haveli as well. Besides traditional frescoes and murals, the Murmuria Haveli has modern paintings also, like the one depicting Jawaharlal Nehru with the National Flag on a horseback. Mohanlal Saraf Haveli, Chowkhani Haveli, Bhagchandika Haveli, Gulab Rai Ladia Haveli, Lakshmi Narayan Ladia Haveli, and the Newtia Haveli are some other majestic havelis of Mandawa.
Had read a lot about Monica restaurant in Mandawa where we decided to dine. Weaving through dimly lit narrow lanes we managed to reach the restaurant and were ushered into an absolutely empty restaurant! Here too like most of the restaurants in Rajasthan the food catered to the Continental tastes. Despite asking for spicy food we got a taste of some sweetish Chicken tikka masala. Though this restaurant has a lot of good reviews on Trip Advisor, it is not suitable for the Indian palate.