By Lokendra Singh
Jaipur, June 7 : Rajasthan's Navalgarh town in the Shekhawati area is today known for its 19th century Havelis. But most of the Havelis are today in a bad condition due to utter neglect.
With the passage of time, most of the Haveli owners or their descendents have migrated to metropolitan cities to set up their businesses there. There ancestral Havelis are today locked or being used for various purposes.
But not many people today know that the Havelis of such a significance are located in Navalgargh town just around 150 kilometers from Jaipur.
And, this has made it difficult to draw local authorities' attention towards Havelis' timely maintenance. lame it on owners' disinterest or government authorities' ignorant attitude towards their upkeep, the condition of many of these Havelis' are precarious.
Many people fear that these historical Havelis' may deteriorate or even cease to exist, if no concerted attempt is made for their maintenance and protection.
Navalgargh has been known as the home of many successful leading businessmen, and for that reason, this small town was named the Town of 21 millionaires even six decades ago.ut very few families are aware about the history of these huge mansions of yore.
"Everybody wanted to make his Haveli more beautiful than those existing in the neighbourhood. So, in competition, they constructed the Havelis of distinction. Then some of them shifted to other cities like Calcutta, Varanasi, Bangalore, Delhi, Jaipur and some of them even settled abroad. Their families too joined them later on," said Shivkumar, one resident of Navalgargh.
"It is unlikely anyone of them would prefer returning here to settle down. Today, either the Havelis remain locked or their astrologers and Kul Purohits (ancestral priests) take care of them. Of the total Havelis existing here at least half of them are occupied by the Brahmins and Kul Purohits," Shivkumar added.
The world famous fantastic Shekawati paintings relate the fact that creative art was much patronised by the extremely well off gentry of this region.
The old majestic lifestyle showcases even today in the architecture of these Havelis which were built to look distinct and fascinating than the other existing buildings.
There are over 100 palatial Havelis in Navalgarh which even today look unique and captivating for their architecture and artistry.
"Most of these Havelis belong to Mauryas, Lodhas, Jaipurias, Maheshwaris, Bangurs, Poddars, Kejriwals and Birlas," said Bulaki Sharma, another local resident of Navalgargh.
"A number of Havelis are there, but all are locked. The owners of these Havelis are living far away from this place. Servants stay in these Havelis," said Banwari Soni, one security guard.
Like any grand Mahal (Palace) these Havelis too have different style of architecture, which divides building into two parts. The first courtyard was used for general visitors. The second courtyard was meant exclusively for ladies.
The largest Havelis could have up to three or four courtyards and were two to three stories high. Most of the Havelis are today empty or are maintained by a watchman (typically an old man). These Havelis are major attraction for tourists in Rajasthan.
The towns and villages of Shekhawati are famous for the embellished frescoes on the walls of their grandiose havelis. Such is the magnificence and artistry of these frescoes, that they attract tourists from all over the world.
The designs, sculpture and paintings of the Havelis narrate the influence of the Rajput and Mughal culture that existed in Rajasthan for long.
Many residents of Navalgarh are worried for the day when these neglected Havelis, which bespeak the rich heritage of Rajasthan, could only be noticed in history books or catalogues.