A Nomad's Diary - travel tales

This Wonderland Town in Rajasthan will Surely Leave You Awestruck by its Frescoes and Murals made in 18th & 19th Century India!

As you enter the boundaries of one of the quintessential towns located in the northern Rajasthan, you are welcomed by a sculpted tall gate with English green and pink colours painted on it.  The colours though have faded, the opulence of yesteryears still prevails in the air of this town and neighborhood. This is the first opinion about the havelis of Mandawa in Shekhawati area that was once an opulent side of Rajasthan.

Today, when textured painting and stencil art are restricted to a maximum of one wall in most homes due to affordability and artistic caliber, the havelis in the Shekhawati region are ornately designed. These world-renowned havelis are intricately painted from innermost walls to the jharokas. The frescos and the mural artwork done here is worth the awe from both Indian & foreign tourists. No doubt the lanes of this town appears to be like an open-air art gallery!

The Shekhawati region as the cluster is often referred comprises of Jhunjhun district with towns like Mandawa, Nawalgarh and more in addition with the district of Churu & Sikar. Originally ruled by Shekh Rao, Shekhawati of the 18th &19th century had one of the most well-read people living here. These locals were quite rich and so they constructed haveli-style of houses for residing. However, soon they indulged in an unsaid money showoff in the form of the most artistically decorated houses.

Mandawa is one of the bigger towns in Jhunjhunu district of Shekawati region. It was established by Mandu Jat and came to be known as Mandu-ki-dhani which later on became its name as Mandawa. Later it flourished under the rule of Nawal Singh in 18th & 19th century. Mandawa was one of the towns that housed affluent traders families some of the prominent names are Ladias, Chokhanis, Sonthalias, Sarafs, and the Goenkas. There are a number of well-decorated havelis in Mandawa and neighboring towns like Dundhlod, Fatehpur, Nawalgarh and more.

List of Contents


  • Mandawa Fort:

The heritage hotel part of Mandawa Fort - Havelis of Mandawa
The heritage hotel part of Mandawa Fort

It was built by Nawal Singh in 1745 and passed on to his successors thereon. Today almost half area of this fort has been revived and converted into a heritage hotel while the remaining area is left in its original untouched form. A tour of the Mandawa fort hotel which also has a museum inside is possible but with a premium fee per person unlike other havelis of this area charge.

However, the old part of the fort is open for visitors for free.
However, the old part of the fort is open for visitors for free.


Mirror and other Fresco Art Work in almost its original state at Mandawa Fort
Mirror and other Fresco Art Work in almost its original state at Mandawa Fort
  • Houses & Market in the lanes of Mandawa:

A walk through the lanes of Mandawa and one will realize that it is not just one or two havelis that are decorated with murals and artwork. As a matter of fact, all houses big and small have artistic reminiscence. However, some of the havelis and houses have got the original artwork re-touched by new generation artists to keep the artwork in good colour and condition.

A lane of Mandawa
A lane of Mandawa

While in some other households and empty havelis, the original artwork can be seen. One can simply imagine the beauty of this town in its glorious days by looking at the restored artworks in havelis that have been converted into hotels. Some of the prominent names that one cannot overlook while passing by these lanes are Singhasan Haveli, Mandawa Haveli.

Singhasan Haveli - Havelis of Mandawa
Singhasan Haveli – Havelis of Mandawa
  • Must Visit Havelis of Mandawa:

Mohanlal Saraf Haveli:

This is one of the most popular havelis of Mandawa which was established by the Saraf family. The haveli is double storeyed and flaunts Rajasthani culture and stories of Hindu deities like Lord Krishna & Radha.

Snehram Ladia Haveli:

This haveli has some artwork dated prior to 1907 while the recent most addition in artwork here is dated somewhere in the 1940s.

Murmuria Haveli:

In contrast to most havelis of Mandawa, which do not have any artistic depiction of the freedom struggle that was prevalent in India at that time, Murmuria Haveli is famous for a painting of Jawaharlal Nehru, who was the first prime minister of independent India, riding a horse and carrying the tricolor flag in hand.

Art Expression Prevalent in Mandawa:

A fine mix of frescos & murals paintings can be seen in these big and small havelis of Mandawa. In some havelis of Mandawa and in the fort,  use of colored glass in embellishing windows etc. is also seen. But generally the depiction of Rajasthani culture, Hindu deities can be seen. Quite interestingly, a major foreign influence can also be seen which is not restricted to British artistic style only.

Also since in those days trains had just started in Bombay (now Mumbai) so these merchants got the art of train and Britishers traveling in them painted on the walls. The use of English style shade of green, blue, pink is predominant in the original artwork. However, now the retouch has been given in brighter colours that are more common in Rajasthan.

Ideal Duration:

2 Nights & 3 Days exclusively for Mandawa if you really want to see havelis and appreciate their art. If you just want to give a fly visit to each haveli and cover havelis in nearby one or two towns then also this duration works approximately.

Stay At:

Radhika Haveli is the hotel to be if one is looking for a reasonable stay in a grand haveli like set up. It is located on the inner roads of Mandawa, just a little away from the main road. The landmark to find it is Monica Restaurant. Everything about the ambiance of this haveli turned heritage hotel is truly lovable. It takes you back in time and gives you the feel of living in a flamboyantly decorated haveli from yesteryears. The rooms are big and well maintained for the same royal feeling to resonate. The staff especially the owner is warm, courteous & ready to assist. As a send-off gift, they give Rajasthani puppets.

Avoid Mandawa Haveli as it is an average hotel with a medium budget price tag. The rooms are small and not up to the mark. Their restaurant too has average regular kind of lunch and dinner buffets in the name of pure Rajasthan food but at a premium pricing. The complimentary breakfast & cleanliness is a major disappointing factor.


In Mandawa, most restaurants serve pure vegetarian food and those which serve non-vegetarian dishes aren’t really up to the mark. Having tried three to four restaurants here’s our experience report card for them:

  • Gwala Restaurant in Radhika Haveli premise is highly recommended for home-style, nothing fancy pure vegetarian food at reasonable rates.
  • Monica Restaurant is good but mostly has fewer customers.
  • Shekhawati Restaurant: Never mind some other time.

Bollywood in Mandawa:

Mandawa due to its beautiful Rajasthani town like feel is a popular shooting location for  Bollywood films. There are several famous movies that have been shot here like P.K. (shown as Mandawa only where the alien first lands), Bajrangi Bhaijaan (shown as Pakistan), Shuddh Desi Romance, Love Aaj Kal, Jab We Met, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, & Half Girlfriend.

Read about Long Weekend trip to Ajmer


  • Most havelis of Mandawa are now empty. Some have caretakers who double up as a guide to show inside of the haveli at a nominal fee.
  • There are more foreign tourists that flock to see the havelis of Mandawa than Indian tourists.
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(37) Comments

  1. Mandawa is a great upcoming destination. Being the town of palaces and big havelis, i really wanted to visit soon. Thanks for taking me through the virtual tour

  2. Very nice post.. Rajasthan is my native place and every year we are going there.. Next time we will surely visit the place..

  3. Such beautiful architecture! We have so much heritage but sadly we don’t end up taking care of it. I wish the government would retire these buildings.

  4. India is blessed with beautiful architecture and heritage but sadly its not well maintained. I wish the government can pick these places as heritage sites and preserve them.

  5. I have been to mandwa once. As I hail from Jaipur so Rajasthan was one of our first priority to explore. I like the havelis of Mandwa. they are super ventilated with big walls and royal paintings on wall give you such a lovely feel.

  6. Rajasthan has so much to offer in terms of vibrancy and culture. Mandawa is comparatively lesser known. Lovely pics. Will sure give myself this ‘haveli’ treat sometime.

  7. Mandawa looks like that city which is so rich in culture and heritage. Perfect blend of history and the present. Never knew PK was shot there though !

  8. These amazing architectures makes me fall in love with Rajasthan time and again. Beautiful shots captured of haveli.

  9. DrAmrita says:

    Mandawaa looks steeped in art and history.I love visiting such beautiful places.Ancient artists leave stories behind.

  10. The havelis look so grand! The market and shops look equally beautiful… I loved the intricate design on the walls… Would love to visit this place someday!

  11. Papri Ganguly says:

    Places have rich and royal vibes. Love all the pictures .Thanks for sharing.

  12. Rajasthan is a beautiful place. I would love to visit Mandawa sometime looks amazing.

  13. Looks like a damn beautiful place, after reading this blog would definitely love to give this a try

  14. Mandwa haweli is so beautiful i really didn’t knew before reading this article

  15. Sarah Te says:

    The architecture is stunning beyond words and m totally in love with it.
    A must visit tourist place for sure.

  16. Akanksha says:

    I’m loving the royal architecture. So beautiful and photogenic. I have not been to Rajasthan yet so bookmarking this post for travel recommendations. Great post as always darling x

  17. this is the first time i heard about Mandawa and it looks so beautiful!! Rajasthan is on my bucket list!

  18. Rajasthan is so full of beautiful monuments and the art and architechture of these historical buildings takes you to a different world ! I simply love to visit such places.

  19. When I spotted this place in Bollywood movies. I though it was just set. I never know such pretty places existing from ages.. now that I know I am gonna book mark this one for my further visit

  20. Amazing and beautiful post. Mandawa is so beautiful and royal fort. The decorations of the fort is quite worthy. The jharokha is quite impressive. Great thoughts.

  21. What a colourful art work and architecture of haveli at Mandwa. This sounds like perfect getaway travel trip.

  22. Beautiful and colourful mahals. Thank you for sharing

  23. Rajasthan has wonderful architectural treasures. Thanks for showcasing some of these. 🙂

  24. Wow! The havelis are so beautiful, and intricate paintings on the walls are just awesome. I have visited few places in rajasthan. Now Mandawa is also in my go to list.

  25. Those colours are beautiful, and the murals are so intricate. I’d love to see this

  26. Havelis of Mandawa looks splendid with colorful art work and intricate details on windows, jharokahs and pillars. I did not know that there are so many havelis in Mandawa which are really worth-visiting. Singhashan Haveli is the one I would go for first and you have taken stunning shots of these havelis. Even the market lane looks interesting. Thanks for sharing all the tips about where to stay and where to eat good vegetarian food.

  27. I have heard and read so much about these havelis. And I have planned so many times about going there. Never been yet! But I hope to go there some day. You post just makes me crave for more. They are just too beautiful.

  28. Thanks so much for this great post no Mandawa, I’m definitely adding it to my list for next time I visit the region. That air of faded opulence you mention is so photogenic! It looks like the perfect place to wander around with one’s camera, taking in the faded beauty.

  29. What great travel tips for seeing the frescoes in Mandawa. I appreciate your insight into spending 2-3 days and hotel and restaurant recommendations. Staying at a heritage haveli adds to the immersion into history but it’s a shame some only see it as a way to make money. The Rhadika Haveli has made all the right decisions to make visitors happy!

  30. The architecture looks amazing and those havelis look so pretty! I have visited few places in Rajasthan but not this one. I just added it to my list.

  31. amar singh says:

    Great timing I must say and this post will be very helpful as I plan to visit Rajasthan in December. The palaces and buildings are full of life and enriched is history. I would love to visit this town and as you said relish its Frescoes and Murals full of colour. thanks for sharing

  32. Noor Anand Chawla says:

    I have not been to Mandawa but it seems like a very charming place. I had no idea that so many Bollywood movies were shot there!

  33. Architecture looks amazing..!!! I’ve visited few places in Rajasthan but not this one. Next time i’ll be surely going to see this serene place.

  34. […] Love reading about art then you might also like to read about the Beautiful Havelis of Mandawa. […]

  35. […] Not to forget the classic films like Beta was shot in Hawa Mahal (Jaipur) & major portions of Sridevi-Anil Kapoor starer Lamhe was shot in Rajasthan. Also, movies like Mirzya – the launch movie of Harshvardhan Kapoor and Dhadak movie was shot in unbelievably beautiful shooting locations like Udaipur & Jaipur. In addition to this, Mandawa that falls in the Shekhawati region is also a popular shooting location for Bollywood films. Films like P.K., Jab We Met, Love Aaj Kal, Mimi, Bajrangi Bhaijan and more have been shot here. Read more about travelling to Mandawa here. […]

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