There are a few places in India, which have a unique character, which you wouldn't find anywhere else; Mandawa is one of them. Mandawa is a quaint little town in the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan, around 3 hours’ drive from Jaipur, Rajasthan.
Mandawa was once an estate of Jaipur and served as a trading outpost for ancient caravan routes. It was a key stop for wealthy merchants coming from China and the Middle East through the silk route. Between the 17th to 19th centuries, the majority of those merchants chose to settle here and built exquisitely crafted large mansions. Laden with wealth and affluence, these merchants got busy flaunting their lavishness, outdoing each other in building these grand mansions and archways which were richly decorated both inside and outside with murals. The walls of these structures are adorned with beautiful and colorful frescoes. This is why, Mandawa is referred to as the “open-air art gallery” of Rajasthan.
While such mansions, representing the wealth and prosperity of Rajasthan’s merchants are scattered all over Shekhawati, Mandawa is the place where you will find these epitomes of art in higher repletion. It has a large collection of the art and culture of various clans. The vibes of the town reflect the aura of the place from the bygone era. With time, many of the merchants moved on and migrated to other places for better business prospects, leaving behind the beautiful mansions to bear the brunt of time and desolation. However, the magnificence and elegance of these mansions were not a thing to be pushed to nihility and so they soon transformed into the major tourist attraction of the area.
Owing to its beautiful artistic rendition, Mandawa is also a hot spot for movie shoots. These mansions can be the best experience on a walking tour through the town. Your visit to this small town will be copiously endowed with art, allure, and captivating history.
If you have an interest in history and art, then take a tour of the vibrant past with us! Enjoy an open gallery of frescoes and wall paintings in Mandawa's historic Mansions. Explore and experience the lifestyle of those wealthy merchants by staying in the Mandawa Fort. This fort was built to protect the trading outpost, but the fort is now transformed into a luxury heritage hotel.
Here is the list of some of these popular mansions and attractions of Mandawa:
1. Hanuman Prasad Goenka Mansion:
Hanuman Prasad Goenka Mansion, a popular tourist attraction of Mandawa, is a must-visit for history buffs and art lovers. It is a perfect illustration of Rajasthani art and heritage. Hanuman Prasad Goenka Mansion is a lavishly designed mansion that used to be a residence for various Rajput royalty in the past and thus perfectly exemplifies the ancient Rajputana lifestyle.
The intricate carvings and designs which feature on the walls and pillars of the Hanuman Prasad Goenka Mansion take us back to the glorious bygone era of the royal Rajputs’. While taking a stroll through the mansion, you will find paintings of Lord Indra – lord of rain riding his elephant; Lord Shiva on the revered bull, and many other paintings of the mythological characters on the walls. These paintings depict the religious beliefs and declivity of the Rajputs’ toward the Hindu gods and goddesses.
2. Murmuria Mansion:
The beautiful Murmuria Mansion dates back to the 1930s. The fascinating mansion is known for its attractive paintings which mostly portray the political leaders of the bygone era. The graceful architecture of the Murmuria Mansion depicts the rich art and culture of Rajasthan.
This beautiful mansion comprises paintings of cars, trains, George V and Venice. In Murmuria Mansion, there is a long wall painting depicting a train with a crow flying above the engine. Here you can see the paintings of Lord Krishna with his cows and India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on a horseback holding the national flag. There is also a sandy courtyard in front of the Murmuria Mansion from where you can enjoy an amazing view of the southern wall of the adjacent mansion.
3. Harlalka Well:
You must have heard about myths about some wells that can make your wishes come true. The mysterious Harlalka Well is exactly one of them! Just a few steps away from Murmuria Mansion, Harlalka Well has an elusive history even today. Almost in ruins, this legendary well is dilapidated but still holds crystal clear water which can reflect your shadow beautifully.
It is believed by the locals that whatever you wish for near Harlalka Well, will come true. This well is surrounded by four sculptural pillars, which are beautifully set around this historical well. There is just one word of caution though - there are no railings around the well, so be careful while leaning above it. The well is quite deep.
4. Bansidhar Newatia Mansion:
Built around 1920, Bansidhar Newatia mansion is well-known for its paintings which are a rare blend of art, traditions, and technological advancements over a period of time. The paintings on the walls of Bansidhar Mansion are quite interesting and unique as compared to the other mansions. You will come across artworks that include a boy using a telephone, a strongman hauling along a car, a European woman in a chauffeur-driven car, and Wright Brother's maiden flight being watched by women in a sari. The drawings are quite entertaining and witty. The elegant architecture and design of this quaint mansion are also worth admiring.
5. Gulab Rai Ladia Mansion:
Gulab Rai Ladia mansion is one of the most palatial mansions of Mandawa. It is located in the south of town, where the outer and inner walls' decoration is perhaps the finest in Shekhawati. Gulab Rai Ladia Mansion is considered a unique illustration of art and architecture because of its exotic imagery. Blue washes here and there are somehow unable to hide the twentieth-century censorship of the erotic scenes which were quite commonly acceptable one hundred years earlier. You could say, it is the "Khajuraho of Mandawa"!
Even today, the Gulab Rai Ladia Mansion is known to hold the old vintage charm and ambiance. Every nook of the mansion holds the true essence of the bygone Rajputana era. While strolling through the corridors of the mansion, you can have a look at the creative work of art by Rajput artisans.
6. Chokhani Double Mansion:
Chokhani double mansion is so called because it was made in two sections for the families of two brothers of the Chokhani family, the eminent merchants of that time. Some of the famous paintings are those of Lord Krishna, British soldiers, men in Western clothing, cars, peacocks, and floral frescoes.
The beautifully designed archways complement the magnificence of the Chokhani double mansion. It also features grand courtyards and is one of the best places to be if you want to witness the British Influence on the Rajput rulers as well as the culture of Rajasthan.
7. Jhunjhunwala Mansion:
Dating back to 1859 CE, Jhunjhunwala Mansion features traditional Rajasthani art. The architectural beauty of the mansion leaves every visitor mesmerized. Every nook and corner of the mansion is intricately designed. When you take a look around the Jhunjhunwala mansion, you can get an idea of the royalty of the owners of this mansion and the skill and expertise of the artists of that era.
The Jhunjhunwala Mansion has latticed windows and beautiful wooden doors which make it stand out among the rest. The creativity of Rajasthani artists can be seen through the decoration on the walls of the mansion. There is a room in the main courtyard that features a golden-colored leaf. The walls and pillars of the mansion have beautiful illustrations. Colorful frescoes and murals add to the beauty of walls and ceilings. These bright-colored wall paintings make the Jhunjhunwala mansion more vibrant and captivating.
8. Mandawa Fort or Castle Mandawa:
Mandawa Fort dates back to the 18th century. Thakur Nawal Singh founded the fort in 1755 CE. A medieval ambiance and charm are mainly prevalent in the fort. The fort dominates the town with a painted arched gateway adorned with wall paintings of Lord Krishna and his cows.
These paintings are a visual treat for visitors. Today the Mandawa Fort, renamed Castle Mandawa, is a part of the Mandawa Group of Hotels, a privately owned hotel company, rich in Rajasthan’s royal heritage and architecture. It stands as a jewel in a King’s crown that offers 70 outstandingly reinstated grand luxury suites and rooms, which were the chambers of the former Maharajas. The variety of décor and themes in the rooms of the Mandawa Fort are also great attractions for tourists. The rooms also boast numerous beautiful paintings and mirror-work.