Located around 10 km to the south-east of the town of Mandawa is the tiny village of Churi. It was founded in the late 19th century and was home to the well known Marwari families of the Kejariwals and the Nemanis.
The best way to reach Churi is by taking the local bus from Mandawa or Nawalgarh. There are frequent buses that ply between these two towns through the day and stop on the highway near Churi. From the main road where the bus stops, one will need to walk about half a kilometer or so to reach the village settlement.
Once in Churi, all the things worth seeing are within walking distance from each other. The village is like a tiny maze with lanes and very high haveli walls. Churi has a very rustic feel to it. A major factor is that the village Havelis over time have become the same colour as the desert sand.
Churi besides being well known for the Shekhawati Haveli paintings is one of the last villages in the region where the traditional art of making hand made glass bangles is still practiced by many villagers who have now converted their craft into a small scale home run business with the help of the state government.
The process takes around 5-6 hours to make around 12 bangles. The craftsmen are very happy to show tourist their art and are also willing to teach them provided they have a few days in hand to learn. It’s not an art which can be perfected in such a short time but is surely something worth trying.
The Sheonarayan Haveli is one worth seeing while in Churi. The haveli has some interesting murals and portraits of Bengali women, a moustachioed Shiva posing with his entire family, an unusually morose-looking Krishna and Vishwamirta who is lustfully looking at a seductive Menaka.
The other Havelis have paintings of toy trains, elephant chariots, Indian and British warriors parading with their guns or riding their horses into battle. The doors are made of heavy metal and with various kinds of unique artwork on them. Most of the good paintings have now faded with time but there are still plenty of good ones which are still preserved which offer a glimpse into the once flourishing Shekhawati period of the region.
People from Churi are very friendly. Don’t be surprised if you are offered a lift by a local on a bike from the bus stop to the village. The locals will also give you directions to various Havelis in the village and will even offer to be your guide around the village at no cost.
The villagers are very warm and welcoming people. Most of them are into the glass bangle work and help in either making or selling bangles. Befriending a local is the best way to get to know the history and tales of the village.
Churi has no guest houses or hotels in the village and the only kind of accommodation that’s available is to get invited into the house of villagers and spend a night with their family. Many of the villagers have beds kept outside in the courtyard of the house during the summer and early winter season as this is their method of getting some cool breeze and respite from the scorching heat.
A night stay in the village will most likely give one the unique opportunity to sleep out in the open under the beautiful twinkling night sky. There are no dhabas and eateries in Churi other than a couple of tea stalls.
The best time to visit Churi is during the winter months from November to February as the weather is good to travel. Churi can be clubbed in with a day trip from the towns of Mandawa or Nawalgarh. It is also better to make either of the two towns as your base to travel around the region.
Churi is the perfect village to visit for anyone who is looking for something different to learn and explore while travelling along the Shekhawati belt of northern Rajasthan. One will need not more than an hour or two to explore this tiny village and Churi. It is best to club Churi with the towns of Nawalgarh, Dundlod and Mukundgarh which fall along the same road route.
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