Exploring different mediums is fun. I was a bit apprehensive though when Saif from Musafir Stories approached me for a podcast ‘coz I’m not used to public speaking and was pretty sure I would make a fool of myself. It didn’t turn out to be bad at all though, maybe because I spoke about a place I loved – Shekhawati.
A lesser-known region in Rajasthan, it has some of the quirkiest mansions or havelis. Of course, Jaisalmer has prettier havelis with elaborate stonework like Patwon ki haveli and Jaipur has more refined art work like that at its City Palace, but Shekhawati’s narrow lanes and its throwback ambience transport visitors to a different era altogether.
As I write this, I recall a camel cart blaring away Bollywood music as it negotiated an impossible bend in one of these lanes, Rajasthani women dressed in dupattas (stoles) and lehengas (skirts) going about their daily routine with the strength and resolve typical of Indian rural/town folk, steam coming off huge kadhais (cooking vessels) as customers waited for piping hot samosas and jalebis, and the quintessential symbols of ‘India’ in the minds of tourists – cows and sadhus – sprinkled into the chaotic mix of the marketplace.
Just to give you a brief idea, the Shekhawati region gets its name from a former ruler Rao Shekha and consists of several towns like Sikar, Jhunjhunu, Mandawa, Nawalgarh etc. A flourishing trade in these parts led to wealthy merchants building elaborate havelis decorated by local artisans with paintings on outer and inner walls (frescoes).
You could read my post on the Shekhawati havelis here to get a more detailed account of their layout etc., and I hope you enjoy the podcast too (just click ‘listen on audioBoom’ at the top of the post). I look forward to your comments.