The colourful Shekhawati way of life: Mukundgarh, Rajasthan
Around 153 km from the the state capital of Jaipur in Rajasthan is the Shekhawati region is the desert town of Mukundgarh. It is the gateway to the famous traveller town of Mandawa. Mukundgarh is also pronounced as Mukangadh by many locals and is a village between the towns of Jhunjhunu and Sikar.
The history of Mukundgarh revolves around Thakur Mukund Singh Saheb who founded the town and had the name changed from Shahabsar with the help of Sweth Sevek Ram Ghuwalewala.
To reach Mukundgarh, one has to first reach Jaipur, from where travellers have two options. The first is the train, since Mukundgarh is directly connected via the Loharu-Jaipur railway line. The second option is to take a government or private bus from Jaipur. Buses leave every half an hour from Jaipur bus station but takes an hour or so longer than the train.
The bus station at Mukundgarh is on the highway along the Nawalgarh-Mandawa route and one will need to hop into a shared rickshaw to reach the main market area. The rickshaw ride is a short seven to ten minute ride covering around 800 m from the bus stop to the town market. There are no direct buses to the main market area.
Once in the town, the best way of getting around is on foot. Just like the rest of the Shekhawati towns and villages, everything worth seeing is within walking distance. There is also no need to hire a guide, since the locals from the town are very helpful and will guide you around the town properly.
The main attractions include the Mukundgarh Fort, Ganeriwal Haveli, Kanodia Haveli and Saraf Haveli. These are old fresco-rich mansions which are still well preserved. A few temples worth visiting are the Shiva Temple, Gopinath Ji Temple built by the Shekhawat Thakurs.
The Fort is constructed at a higher altitude from the town which enables travellers to have a fine sight seeing experience of the surrounding territories up to 10 kms. A sunrise-sunset observation from the rooftop of the fort is a good idea too.
Travellers can experience typical Shekhawati paintings and colourful scenes all across the village. The havelis constructed in the 19th and 20th century, by the rich trader community still stand tall with grandeur and beauty. Frescoed walls and ceilings are in good condition and mesmerise tourists visiting Mukundgarh.
Accommodation options in Mukundgarh are in plenty. There are those that suit the needs of all kinds of travellers from budget backpacker-style haveli home stays and guest houses to luxury havelis for the family travellers. Most of these havelis provide food which is on request and mostly consist of a vegetarian thali that includes roti, rice, dal, two vegetables and pickle.
Mukundgarh also has a few eateries which serve good contetinal and Indian food and are open only during the tourist season from mid October to end of March. Mukundgarh also has plenty of ATMs and very good network connectivity.
The easy accessibility and good number of guest houses and home stays make Mukundgarh a must visit place for anyone who plans on travelling around the Shekhawati region. Mukundgarh is a small place and one will need about 2-3 hours to explore it properly.
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