Nawalgarh promises a painting at every nook and corner.
The kingdom of breathtaking havelis, frescoes, palaces and temples — there is a bit of art in every part of Nawalgarh, the town of havelis in Rajasthan. Nawalgarh derives its name from Thakur Nawal Singh who founded it in 1737, though the havelis still bear the stamp of the rich and prosperous Marwari era of the 19th Century.
Famous for its grand havelis with frescoes, Nawalgarh, a heritage town of the Shekhavati region, is rightly referred to as the Open Air Art Gallery. As you walk through its streets and bazaars , you will come across numerous painted walls – each telling a story in itself. Every street, house and wall has the stamp of an artist's imagination in paint.
Although there are 600-odd havelis in Nawalgarh, the list of must visit havelis includes the Anandilal Poddar Haveli, the Jodhraj Patodia Haveli, Bansidar Bhagat Haveli, Chokhani Haveli, the Aath (eight) Haveli complex, Chhawchhariya Haveli, Murarka Haveli, Hem Raj Kulwal Haveli, Bhagton Ki Haveli, and Khedwal Bhavan.
Almost all the havelis are constructed in a similar fashion, and only the size and detailing differs . Marvellous murals have been painted on both sides of the walls and the paintings are further decorated with small pieces of mirror, gold and silver leaves. The havelis are guarded at the entrance by large wooden doors and within these is a smaller door normally used for day-today movements. Intricate wooden carvings with fancy brass iron fittings adorn the doors and windows, demonstrating the owners wealth.
The ground floor is normally recessed in such a way that balconies overhang the street. It is from the intricate windows on the balconies and over the courtyards that women catch a glimpse of the men's world.
The fresco painters were called chiteras who belonged to the caste of kumhars (potters). The frescoes depicted in bright two-dimensional paintings, consisted of scenes from mythology, especially of Krishna and Shiva, instances from the “Ramayana” and “Mahabharata”, local legends, animals and plants, daily lives of men and women, towns and the Shekhawati rulers. The chiteras used only natural colours like lamp black for black, lime for white, indigo for blue, red stone powder for red, saffron for orange, yellow clay for yellow ochre and so on. Mixed in limewater and beaten into plaster, they remained vibrant for almost as long as the building lasted.