Morarka Havelis: finery at its best

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Nawalgarh, Feb 24 (UNI) They would take you to an era of lavish life where ostentation effortlessly blended with simplicity.

The magnetic mix of the past pulls hundreds of thousands of tourists every year to Nawalgarh in Rajasthan. Sandwiched between two urban cities -- Delhi and Jaipur -- the tiny hamlet is mecca for art connoisseurs.

Of the over 3000 havelis in the Shekhawati region, the town alone houses 600 of them. Time may have faded the shine and sheen of the eons-old structures, but their ageing beauty in itself make them worth-seeing.

The semi-desert region from 1750 till 1900 was the silk route for traders between Central and South Asia and served as a halt destination for them. This opportunity was exploited amply by the affluent merchants and exquisite havelis mushroomed in the area to attract maximum number of traders.

The serpentine alleys in Nawalgarh is dotted with many such landmark structures. Popular among them are Moraraka Haveli Museum and Avtaron Ki Haveli, built by Morarka dynasty over a century ago.

''The Morarka havelis were built by Jairamdas Morarka in 1900 A D. These were built for families to reside in but later on turned into community centres (dharamshalas) for tourists. Avtaron ki Haveli got its name from the same fact,'' Dr Hoth Chand, caretaker of the Morarka Havelis, says.

The benchmark of the havelis is the frescoes-painted walls boasting the pristine glory and grandeur of the bygone period and earned them the title of ''open air art gallery''.

The intricacy and finery of the frescoes could make any heart skip a beat. The depiction of the array of paintings on the outer walls varies from marriage procession to folktales to religious inscriptions.

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