Shekhavati, Havelis and Kamal Morarka Haveli Museum
Rajasthan is roughly the shape of a diamond with the great Thar Desert at its heart.
The rugged Aravalli range divides Shekhavati into two unequal parts. Entering diagonally
from Danta Ramgarh, the hills stretch to Khandela, Udaipurwati and Khetri to terminate
at Delhi. Unlike the frescoes of Ajanta and Ellora, the wall paintings of the havelis
or mansions of Shekhavati bring us closer to more current Indian life. This region
has been home to the Marwari community, which for more than a century has been the
backbone of commercial entrepreneurship in India. The genealogy of trading and industrial
houses of the country indicate that most of them have their roots in some town or
village in Shekhavati. The area being totally arid and local opportunities being
extremely limited, enterprising men moved out of their homeland to try their luck
and the rest is history, recorded on the picturesque walls of Shekhavati: a history
of wealth, and a lively, ostentatious lifestyle.
At the turn of the 19th century, new motifs began appearing on these walls which
were characteristic of the Raj’s influence on Indian culture. Cars, planes, portraits
of the primly dressed owners of havelis, gramophones and English “sahebs” in hunting
attire all pose in brilliant colours on their massive canvases. The region thus
came to have a veritable heart of wall paintings, town after town and village after
village, which in their abundance remain unmatched in the world.
Nawal Singh, the fourth of five brothers, founded this town in 1737. There was already
a village on the site and he built a fort, a Gopinath temple and surrounded the
site with walls. The place boasted three forts and managed to keep its estates relatively
undivided and thus remained quite prosperous. More...
Nawal Singh encouraged some merchants from Jaipur to settle here. The Patodia family
claim to be among the first to arrive. Since the town was successful and the rulers
relatively benevolent, the Bania community thrived and more families came to join
them. From this town came the branch of the Choudhary clan which is known throughout
India as Goenka. Many other banias flourished, the names of some clearly stating
their origins: Jaipuria, Sanganeria etc. This is the town where the finest of Shekhavati’s
frescoes can be seen. Its havelis still bear witness to the rich and prosperous
Marwari era of the 19th century.
The planning of the haveli was mainly conceived around the social context and the
climate. This is clearly evident from the fact that all the havelis of Shekhavati
are planned around courtyards and a majority incorporate two courtyards while a
few have three or four courtyards.
The social context: The prevalence of the purdah system in the Rajput family and
the customs of Shekhavati resulted in an introverted house, the courtyard planning
being the only solution to creating a separation between the male and female members
of the family. The inner courtyard for women was refered to as the zenana and the
outer forecourt for men was the mardana. The zenana was intended for in-housing
domestic activities like cooking, washing,
drying and looking after children which were activities performed mainly by women.
The mardana was meant for the male members to carry out their business and commerce.
The men spent their day in the forecourt and retired into the inner court for the
night. The third broadly defined area of the haveli was the nohra or the service
The climate: From the point of view of Shekhavati’s hot, dry summers and fairly
severe winters, one would surely applaud the designers of these havelis. The courtyards
form the main source for natural light and ventilation. They are small in dimension
compared to the height, to keep away the sun and remian cool throughout the day.
Extended floors form a shading device for the numerous small windows on the facade.
KAMAL MORARKA HAVELI MUSEUM
The Morarkas are Vaishya-Garg Agrawals. They have their origins in Sikar. During
changes in the political set up in 1813, many merchants, including the Morarkas
left Sikar. The Morarka family migrated to Nawalgarh where they were provided shelter
and security by the ruler of Nawalgarh and they established their business there.
The Morarkas have built a number of buildings including havelis, temples and wells.
One of those buildings is Morarka Haveli which is a landmark in Nawalgarh located
in Naya Bazaar. It was built in 1900 by Shri Jairamdasji Morarka, a connoisseur
and patron of the arts. The haveli depicts the varied motifs prevalent at that time
through the paintings on its walls. Even after a century the frescoes are preserved
in good condition. The haveli has been opened to public upon the wishes and efforts
of the present owner and descendant Shri Kamal M. Morarka, a noted philanthropist
and patron of the arts.