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The open art gallery Mandawa, Rajasthan

Online Marketing Executive Anuja Bhagat recently travelled to India and discovered the open-air art gallery that is Mandawa.

The town of Mandawa has been referred to as the "open art gallery" of Rajasthan. The entire town is dotted with fascinating havelis (mansions) that have lavishly painted walls. The history of the town stretches back to 18th century when rich and affluent merchant families constructed massive havelis, adorned with beautiful wall paintings, for the purpose of their residence. However, with time, the merchants moved on and migrated to other areas, leaving the beautiful havelis behind.

Many of the paintings tell a story, some depicting the discoveries and inventions of the times. For instance, the invention of plane by Wright Brothers has been beautifully depicted in one of the havelis.

On the other hand some paintings have religious connotations, showing Vishnu and his incarnations.

The themes of the paintings have changed from time to time. In the earlier days, mythology dominated the themes of the frescoes, displaying local legends, deities, and characters from epics, etc. The 19th century saw the themes being changed to reflect the British influence on the Indian culture.

Some of most attractive havelis in Mandawa include Murmuria, Saraf, Goenka, Ladia and Gulab Rai havelis, all of them displaying some of the finest murals on both the exterior and interior walls.

Besides paintings, you also get to see some lovely Belgian mirror-work at the entrance of some havelis, used at that time as a tool to deflect negative energy. The intricate carved woodwork on the doors and windows of havelis is a real treat for art lovers.

Mandawa is also known for its true Jaipur style of architecture, there are pleasant courtyards, gardens, and open terraces that offers a panoramic view of the whole town as well as of the Fort of Mandawa.

The Fort of Mandawa has now been converted into a heritage hotel – Castle Mandawa, which offers visitors a good opportunity to stay and explore the town at the same time. Each wing of the fort is set up with a different theme. I would recommend the peacock suite. Some of the features include peacock themed décor, lovely murals, marble fountain and private terrace.

A visit to Mandawa would be a perfect experience for anyone who is looking for a real taste of rural Rajasthan and would blend in very well with the Golden Triangle Tour.