Located 190km away from Jaipur, in the eastern side of the state of Rajasthan, Mandawa is part of the iconic Shekhawati region. The town is mostly known for the numerous forts that adorn its streets, and also for really good transportation connectivity to the other cities of the state, which is commendable given how far apart they are.
The speciality of Mandawa lies in the fact that it was a city established by the common man, as opposed to the other big cities which were mostly regal by origin. No exiled or ambitious ruler built the city. Instead, the cornerstone of Mandawa was laid and the town was later developed by businessmen, traders and merchants.
The unconventional yet excellent attraction of Mandawa is the painted walls of the local havelis. Sewaram Saraf Haveli is 100 years old and has been the venue for a good many Hindi movie shootings. Hanuman Prasad Goenka Haveli, Jhunjhunwala Haveli, Murmuria Haveli and Ram Pratap Nemani Haveli all have eye-widening and jaw-dropping frescoes all-over their walls and ceilings.
Legend says that a wealthy businessman by the name of Mandu Jat had the first settlement here, and he dug up a well in around 1740 AD. The town gets its name from its first patron. Over the years, it turned into a busy little market within the big towns of Rajputana. Several merchants built their havelis and warehouses here, and many other migrated to flourish and prosper their trade. It was an important stop along the caravan route that stretched from China to the Middle-East. So one can easily guess the trading importance Mandawa had.
Later, Thakur Nawal Singh recognized the significance and built a fort here to protect the outpost, which helped it grow further. This fort dominates the town and draws a handsome amount of crowd owing to the ornate archways and intricate Hindu-themed frescoes. The walls of the fort are adorned with fascinating paintings and mirror works, as was the trend back in the 18th century. Although the fort is now partially a hotel, much of its antiquities have been retained for both aesthetics and preservation purposes.