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The name Shekhawati (literally meaning the ‘land of Shekha’) commorates Rao Shekhaji (1433-1488), a cousin of Jaipur’s Kachahawaha rulers, whom he dared to challenge before declaring his independence in 1471. It was not until 1738 that Jaipur was able to reassert its suzerainty over the Shekhawats.

          The semidesert region of Shekhawati is a colourful fantasy having a fascination uniquely of its own. ‘The open air-art gallery’, as it is populary called, is famous for its plethora of painted havelis, all commendable pieces of the rich artistic tradition of this region.

          Shekhwati’s magnificent havelies or mansions built by rich merchants of the region, display a unique architectural style that evolved around the courtyards to ensure safety and privacy of the women folk and protection from the heat of the long and harsh summers. The havelies, painted predominantly in blue, maroon, yellow, green and indigo have beautiful wall paintings that adorn their walls. The earlier wall painting (1830 A.D. – 1900 A.D.) were largely based on their ythological themes, depicting local legends, animals, portraits, hunting and wrestling scenes and  glimpse of everyday life.

          The turn of the 19th century saw the appearance of new motifs, an outcome of the Raj’s influence upon the Indian culture. Now, cars replaced elephants and traditional Indian miniatures mingled with naturalism of western paintings to produce intersting hybrid results. The mythological themes depicting gods, heroes, epics and legends were substituted by European oleographs, lithographs and photographs. Trains, cars, balloons, telephones, gramophones, English men in hunting attires and portraits of the haveli owners primely dressed, were painted all over the walls-thus making the havelies interesting for both Indian and foreign travellers.