Being born and brought up in Bombay, I had a modern education and outlook; developments
in the West were at my fingertips even in an era when internet, television and other
such means of communication were not available. However, what I did not realise was that
it also cut me off from the tradition and culture of this vast country; more particularly from
the tradition of the land of my forefathers.
Nawalgarh in the Shekhavati region of Rajasthan, is the town from where our family migrated to Bombay, and as children, we would visit Nawalgarh only for some rituals. That memory was also a fading one as we were too small. Tales about life in Nawalgarh which my father and grandfather had lived aroused curiosity and a certain enchantment. Camel- and horse-drawn tongas were means of transport and large houses called havelis (without attached bathrooms) were the dwelling places. Much later did I realise that our family actually owned a number of havelis other than the one from where they migrated to Bombay.
In 1995 I started visiting Nawalgarh again with a view to do my bit for the local populace through an NGO started in memory of my father. I took the opportunity to visit the other havelis owned by the family and I found one haveli which was a treasure-house of frescoes. We had a quick discussion with Bharati, my wife and Mr. Mukesh Gupta who is the CEO of our NGO. He contacted Mr. Hotchand, our conservationist.
We decided to start a systematic process to restore the haveli to showcase how life in Shekhavati used to be even if we could not bring it to its original grandeur. The work is slow and time consuming but the results are very fulfilling.
The next step was to try and publish a book on this haveli and its frescoes. This is our humble effort.