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Historical Region of North India

Shahpura Haveli (Shekhawati).jpg
LocationNorthern Rajasthan 27°55′N75°24′E / 27.917°N 75.400°E / 27.917; 75.400 Coordinates: 27°55′N75°24′E / 27.917°N 75.400°E / 27.917; 75.400
19th-century flag
Shekhawati Princely State
Flag of Jaipur.svg
State established:1445
Language Shekhawati
Dynasty Shekhawats (1445-1948), branch of Kachawa Dynasty of Jaipur
Historical capitals Amarsar, Shahpura, Jhunjhunu
Separated states

Shekhawati is a semi-arid historical region located in the northeast part of Rajasthan, India.

Rajasthan State in India

Rajasthan is a state in northern India. The state covers an area of 342,239 square kilometres (132,139 sq mi) or 10.4 percent of the total geographical area of India. It is the largest Indian state by area and the seventh largest by population. Rajasthan is located on the northwestern side of India, where it comprises most of the wide and inhospitable Thar Desert and shares a border with the Pakistani provinces of Punjab to the northwest and Sindh to the west, along the Sutlej-Indus river valley. Elsewhere it is bordered by five other Indian states: Punjab to the north; Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to the northeast; Madhya Pradesh to the southeast; and Gujarat to the southwest.


Shekhawati is located in North Rajasthan comprising districts of Jhunjhunu, Sikar, Churu and a part of Nagaur and Jaipur. History has it that in the 17th to 19th centuries, Marwari merchants constructed these grand havelis in the Shekhawati region. Steeped in wealth and affluence, these merchants got busy outdoing others in building more grand edifices – homes, temples, step wells which were richly decorated both inside and outside with painted murals. [1] It is bounded on the northwest by the Jangladesh region, on the northeast by Haryana, on the east by Mewat, on the southeast by Dhundhar, on the south by Ajmer, and on the southwest by the Marwar region.

Jhunjhunu City in Rajasthan, India

Jhunjhunu is a city and headquarters of Jhunjhunu district in the state of Rajasthan, India.

Sikar City in Rajasthan, India

Sikar is a city located midway between Agra and Bikaner on the National Highway 52 in the state of Rajasthan in India. It is the administrative headquarters of the Sikar District. Sikar is a historical city and contains many old havelis. It is located 114 km from Jaipur, 320 km from Jodhpur 215 km from Bikaner, and 280 km from Delhi.

Churu City in Rajasthan, India

Churu is a city in the desert region of Rajasthan state of India. It is known as gateway to the Thar Desert of Rajasthan. It is the administrative headquarter of Churu District. It lies in the Thar Desert on the National Highway-65 connecting Pali to Ambala and is a junction station on the railway line to Bikaner. It is near the shifting sand dunes of the Thar Desert and has grand havelis with marvelous fresco paintings, namely Kanhaiya Lal Bagla Ki Haweli and Surana Haweli, with hundreds of small windows. It also has some fine Chhatris. Near the town is a religious seat of the Nath sect of Sadhus where there are life-size marble statues of their deities and a place for prayers. At the centre of the town is a fort built about 500 years ago.

Its area is 13784 square kilometers. [2] The inhabitants of Shekhawati are considered brave, sacrificing and hard working people.

Etymology of Shekhawati

Sekhawati was first mentioned in the book Bankidas ki Khyat. [3] Contemporary of Bankidas was Colonel W.S. Gardener, who used the word Shekhawati in 1803. Later James Tod wrote the first history of Shekhawati. The term Shekhawati was used frequently in Vamsh Bhaskar. This suggests that the term came in use about two and half centuries ago. [4] Shekhawati is named after Rao Shekha.

James Tod 1782-1835, English officer of the British East India Company and an Oriental scholar

Lieutenant-Colonel James Tod was an English-born officer of the British East India Company and an Oriental scholar. He combined his official role and his amateur interests to create a series of works about the history and geography of India, and in particular the area then known as Rajputana that corresponds to the present day state of Rajasthan, and which Tod referred to as Rajast'han.


Shekhawati region of Rajasthan (in blue) Shekhawatiregion.jpg
Shekhawati region of Rajasthan (in blue)

Shekhawati is in the Thar Desert of Rajasthan, and has special importance in the history of India.

Thar Desert large, arid region in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent

The Thar Desert, also known as the Great Indian Desert, is a large arid region in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent that covers an area of 200,000 km2 (77,000 sq mi) and forms a natural boundary between India and Pakistan. It is the world's 17th largest desert, and the world's 9th largest subtropical desert.

The climate of the desert region is harsh and extreme. The temperature ranges from below 0 °C (32 °F) in winter to more than 50 °C (122 °F) in summer. The summer brings hot waves of air called loo. Annual rainfall is at around 450 to 600 mm. The groundwater is as deep as 200 feet (60 m), and in some places, the groundwater is hard and salty. The people in the region depend on rainwater harvesting. The harvested rainwater from the monsoon season (during July and August) is stored in pucca tanks and used throughout the year for drinking purposes. [5]

Groundwater water located beneath the ground surface

Groundwater is the water present beneath Earth's surface in soil pore spaces and in the fractures of rock formations. A unit of rock or an unconsolidated deposit is called an aquifer when it can yield a usable quantity of water. The depth at which soil pore spaces or fractures and voids in rock become completely saturated with water is called the water table. Groundwater is recharged from and eventually flows to the surface naturally; natural discharge often occurs at springs and seeps, and can form oases or wetlands. Groundwater is also often withdrawn for agricultural, municipal, and industrial use by constructing and operating extraction wells. The study of the distribution and movement of groundwater is hydrogeology, also called groundwater hydrology.

Hard water water that has high mineral content

Hard water is water that has high mineral content. Hard water is formed when water percolates through deposits of limestone and chalk which are largely made up of calcium and magnesium carbonates and bicarbonates

Rainwater harvesting Accumulation of rainwater for reuse

Rainwater harvesting is the accumulation and storage of rainwater for reuse on-site, rather than allowing it to run off. Rainwater can be collected from rivers or roofs, and in many places, the water collected is redirected to a deep pit, aquifer, a reservoir with percolation, or collected from dew or fog with nets or other tools. Its uses include water for gardens, livestock, irrigation, domestic use with proper treatment, indoor heating for houses, etc. The harvested water can also be used as drinking water, longer-term storage, and for other purposes such as groundwater recharge.

Shekhawati dialect

Shekhawati is a dialect of the Rajasthani language and is spoken by about three million speakers in the Churu, Jhunjhunu, and Sikar districts of Rajasthan. Even though it is a very important dialect from the grammatical and literary points of view, very little work is carried out on it. In 2001 a descriptive compendium of the grammar of Shekhawati was published. [6] Shekhawati, like the Bagri dialect of Ganganagar and Hanumangarh districts, has a parallel lexicon which makes it very rich from the lexicographical point of view. Word order is typically SOV and there is an existence of implosives. The presence of high tone at suprasegmental level classifies it with other dialects of Rajasthani. It has contributed a lot to the development of Rajasthani language and linguistics.

Some samples in Shekhawati are:


Ancient history

Many historians have considered this region included in the Matsya Kingdom. Rigveda also provides certain evidences in this matter. [7] [8] Manusmriti has called this land as 'Brahmrishi Desha'. [9]

Shekhawati region was included in 'Marukantar Desha' up to Ramayana period. Out of 16 mahajanapadas prior to Buddha, only two Janapadas, namely Avanti and the Kingdom of Virata were counted in Rajasthan area. This region was also influenced by Avanti but later on Nandas of Magadha defeated Avanti. Historians believe that Mauryas obtained the Rajasthan from Nandas. [10]

In ancient times Shekhawati was not limited to the present two districts. During the Mahabharata period, it was known as Matsya Kingdom and extended to the Sarasvati River. This was because the first clan ruling this region, in the Mahabharata period, were descendants of fishermen. So the Vedas were supposed to be written and compiled on this very land. [11] [12] During ancient times this region was divided into several janapadas. Every Janapada was a free republic state. The development of Janapadas in Rajasthan started with habitation of Aryan. [13] The northern part of Rajasthan was known as Jangladesh (Bikaner and Nagaur) during Mahabharata period. [14] and eastern part Jaipur-Alwar were called the Matsya Kingdom. Pandavas had spent one year of their vanishment in this Kingdom of Virata as their abode, to live in anonymity, after the expiry of their twelve-year-long forest life. [7] Dhosi Hill, the revered Hill, bordering Haryana, famous for Chyavana Rishi's Ashram, and place where Chyawanprash was formulated for the first time has extensive mentions in the epic Mahabharat in Vanparv. According to Vimal Charanlal, this Kingdom of Virata extended from Jhunjhunu to Kotkasim 109 km in the north, Jhunjhunu to Ajmer 184 km in the west, Ajmer to Banas and up to the confluence of Chambal River 229 km in the south. The capital of this Kingdom of Virata was Bairat. [11] [15]

After the collapse of Gupta dynasty, Shekhawati's some parts like Jhunjhunu, Fatehpur, Narhar were controlled by the Kaimkhanis, until they were defeated by Shekhawat Rajputs. [ citation needed ]

Kaimkhani is a branch emerged from Chauhans. The first progenitor of Kaimkhanis was Karamchand, born in the family of Moterao of Chauhan clan, the ruler of Dadrewa. Firuz Shah Tughluq converted him to Islam and named him Kaimkhan. Thus his descendants were called Kaimkhani. [ citation needed ]

Shekhawat rule

Bawdi in Fatehpur. Fatehpur was founded by Rao Fateh Singh of Sikar in 1515. Bawdi.jpg
Bawdi in Fatehpur. Fatehpur was founded by Rao Fateh Singh of Sikar in 1515.

Shekhawati was established and ruled by Shekhawat Rajputs until India's independence.

Rao Shekha from Dhundhar established his own independent kingdom with the capital at Amarsar. He was the first independent ruler. After him, Rao Raimal, Rao Suja, and Rao Lunkaran become the rulers of Amarsar. Rao Manohar succeeded his father Rao Lunkaran and founded Manoharpur later renamed Shahpura (The present ruler of Shahpura is the Tikai of Shekhawat subclan). Shekhawats conquered the Jhunjhunu, Fatehpur, Narhar of Kaimkhanis and established their rule in 1445 and ruled till 1614.[ citation needed ]

Thikanas of Shekhawati

Rao Shekha, a Shekhawat Rajput (sub-branch of Kachwaha or Kushwaha), was the founder of Shekhawati, who originally divided Shekhawati into 33 Thikana (also called a Pargana), each with at least a 'kuccha' mud fort, some of which were fortified further with stone. Many Thikanas had their own flags and emblems. Shekhawats ruled over the largest number of Thikanas in Jaipur Rajwara.

Culture, heritage, and tourism


Havelis, temples and frescos

This temple built by Shekhawat ruler of Nawalgarh Temple in Nawalgarh.jpg
This temple built by Shekhawat ruler of Nawalgarh
Shekhawati painted houses. Shekhawati painted houses.jpg
Shekhawati painted houses.

Most of the buildings of the Shekhawati region were constructed in between the 18th century and the early 20th century. During the British occupation, traders adapted this style for their buildings. [16] The havelis are noted for their frescos depicting mythological and historical themes. The frescos include images of gods, goddesses, animals, and the life of the lords Rama and Krishna, profusely painted on the havelis in this region. Shahpura Haveli in Shahpura, 65 km from Jaipur on Jaipur - Delhi Highway and [ citation needed ] Nangal Sirohi in Mahendragarh district, 130 km from Delhi are popular for their Shekhawati architecture within NCR. [17]


Feudalism functioned as an over-riding politico-administrative, social and economic formation undermining even the institution of caste. The feudal mode of social relations as a dominant force guided everyday life of the people of Shekhawati region in Rajasthan. One could trace some continuity of the past social formation in eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Bengal in the form of "semi-feudalism"as characterised by some scholars, but such a situation is not evident in present-day Rajasthan, which was a prominent stronghold of feudalism prior to independence. [18]

Today a remarkable discontinuity in distributive processes and social relations, simultaneous occurrence of the processes of upward and downward social mobility and a self-perpetuating process of social transformation could be witnessed in Shekhawati. [18]


The Shekhawati region has the highest literacy in the state. [19] The predominant farming communities in the rural areas of Shekhawati are the Jats: they comprise the largest single caste in the state (9 percent), and were, in the 1930s and even earlier, the most self-conscious and prosperous among the peasant castes. They have also been the largest source of income for the region and its rulers. In 1935 their claims to certain privileges led to a series of clashes between them and the Rajputs, who resisted their attempts to revise accepted signs of status. [20]

Before independence, the farmers of the Shekhawati region were exploited and oppressed by the Jagirdars during British Raj. During that time, Jagirdars would burden farmers, known as Kisans, with various taxes, a large part of which was to be paid to the British government.[ citation needed ]


Recently, Shekhawati region has shown immense growth in the education sector and has become one of the most successful belt in terms of merit results. There are many schools and colleges that have established which is the prime reason of the huge success the region is seeing. Shekhawati is even used for name keeping of the institutes like Shekhawati Public School, Dundlod, Shekhawati Engineering college etc.There are many institutes named after Shekhawati.

See also

Related Research Articles

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Nawalgarh is a town in Jhunjhunu district of Indian state Rajasthan. It is part of the Shekhawati region and is midway between Jhunjhunu and Sikar. It is 30 km from Sikar and 39 km from Jhunjhunu. Nawalgarh is famous for its fresco and havelis and considered as Golden City of Rajasthan. It is also the motherland of some great business families of India.


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Thakur Deshraj (1903–1970) was a social worker, journalist, nationalist, freedom fighter and author of many books. He was from Rajasthan state in India. He was revenue minister in the princely state of Bharatpur. He had six sons Shersingh,Sajjan Singh,Rajjan Singh,Uttam Singh,Shagun Singh,Jai Singh and a daughter Nirmala Devi. Out of his children only Rajjan singh,his dearest son and Jai Singh are alive. His son Rajjan Singh and his grandson Jasveer Singh are currently popular Jat politician of Bharatpur.

Shekhawat is a sub-clan of Kachwaha Rajputs found mainly in Rajasthan, India. The Shekhawat clan claims descent from Shekha of Amarsar, the Rajput, and were once rulers of Shekhawati.

Khetri City in Rajasthan, India

Khetri Nagar is a town in Jhunjhunu district of Rajasthan in India. It is part of the Shekhawati region. Khetri is actually two towns, "Khetri Town" founded by Raja Khet Singhji Nirwan and "Khetri Nagar" which is about 10 km away from Khetri. Khetri Nagar, well known for its Copper Project, was built by and is under the control of Hindustan Copper Limited, a public sector undertaking under the Government of India. Khetri Nagar is also very well known with name of 'Copper'.

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Dundlod town in Rajasthan, India

Dundlod is a town in Jhunjhunu district of Rajasthan in India. It is situated in the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan. Best known for its fort and havelis, it extends between latitude 28°.06’ in the north and longitude 75°.20’ in the east. It is located about seven kilometers north of Nawalgarh in the center of the Shekhawati region.

Parasrampura is a town in Jhunjhunu district of Rajasthan in India. It is located 43 km south east of Mandawa and has the distinction of having the best-preserved and oldest fresco paintings in the Shekhawati region.A magnificent cenotaph, Chhatri, was erected in Maharao Shardul Singh's(Ruler of Jhunjhunu) memory at Parasrampura by his heirs.

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Raja Raisal, reigned 1584 to 1614, He married Chauhan Rajput Princess Kisnavati Nirban, the only daughter of Raja Peetha Nirban of Khandela and thus, was also the 1st Shekhawat Raja of Khandela. Son of Maharao Suja of Amarsar, granted the estate (jagir) of 7 villages in Lamiya on death of his father; thereupon he joined Imperial Service at Delhi where he was granted the title of “Raja” also a title of "Darbari" and a Mansab of 1250 sawars which was later raised to 3000 by Emperor Akbar. He died about 1614 in South India. He was great-grandson of MahaRao Shekha, King of Amarsar and he belonged to the Kachwaha Clan of Amber/Jaipur Royal Family. The Shekhawats ruled over the Shekhawati region for over 500 years and are honoured with the hereditary title of “Tazimi Sirdars”, whom the Maharaja of Jaipur receives by rising from his seat.

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Panchpana is the combined territories and thikanas ruled by the successors of Maharao Shardul Singh of Jhunjhunu, who belonged to the Bhojraj Ji Ka clan of shekhawats. The Bhojraj Ji Ka Shekhawats ruled over two territories; Pentalisa and Panchpana. The Bhojraj Ji Ka clan of Shekhawats were the most prominent among the shekhawat rajputs. They built many magnificent forts in their thikanas. Panchpana thakurs ruled over highest number of thikanas in Shekhawati. Many thikanas had their own flags and emblems.

Bhojgarh is a village in the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan, India. It is located in Jhunjhunu district; Bhojgarh is connected by road, and can be reached by car or bus from Gudha, Jhunjhunu, Jaipur or Udaipurwati. The Village is about 10 km from Gudha gorji, 40 km from Jhunjhunu and 150 km from Jaipur. Bhojgarh was founded by Thakur Gopal Singh Shekhawat. Number of its residents serves in Indian Army, Indian Airforce and Paramilitary Forces. However, the farming is the main occupation for the most of Bhojgarh residents. The main crops in the monsoon seasons are Bajara, Moth, and Guar. The main crops in the winter months are Wheat, Barley, Sarson, and Chana.

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  1. Aditya Mukherjee, "Art through the lens: Havelis of Shekhawati", The Times of India (Nov 12, 2013)
  2. Taknet, D.K, Marwari Samaj Aur Brijmohan Birla, Indian Institute of Marwari Entrepreneurship, Jaipur, 1993 p 78 ISBN   81-85878-00-5
  3. Mukutji: Jaipur rajya ka bhugol, page 46-47
  4. Sahiram: Ek adhūrī krānti, Shekhawati kā kisān āndolan (1922-1952), page-1
  5. Busquet, Carisse and Gerard Impressions of Rajasthan 2003, Editions Flammarion, ISBN   2-08-011171-X
  6. Lakhan Gusain. Shekhawati. Munich: Lincom Europa (2001) (LW/M 385)
  7. 1 2 G H Ojha: Rajputane ka Itihasa (Part I), page 83
  8. Sukh Sampati Raj Bhandari: Bharat ke deshi Rajya, Jaypur Rajya ka Itihas, page 3
  9. Sahiram: Ek adhūrī krānti, Shekhawati kā kisān āndolan (1922-1952), page-3
  10. Prithvi Singh Mehta: Hamara Rajasthan (1950), pages 30-31
  11. 1 2 Sahiram: Ek adhūrī krānti, Shekhawati kā kisān āndolan (1922-1952), page-2
  12. Satapatha Brahman 13/5/9
  13. Prithvi Singh Mehta: Hamara Rajasthan (1950), page 27
  14. Prithvi Singh Mehta: Hamara Rajasthan (1950), page 28
  15. G H Ojha: Rajputane ka Itihasa (Part I), page 86
  16. Henderson, Carol D, Cultures and Customs of India; Greenwood Press 1992, ISBN   0-313-30513-7, pg. 92
  17. Magnificent havelis of Nangal-Sirohi, The Tribune, 22 June 2002.
  18. 1 2 K.L. Sharma: Caste, Feudalism and Peasantry: The Social Formation of Shekhawati, Vedams eBooks (P) Ltd. New Delhi, 1998
  19. Dr RP Arya, Jitendra Arya, Gayatri Arya, Anshuman Arya, Rajasthan Road Atlas, Indian Map Service, Jodhpur 2005
  20. Princely States Report Archived 16 December 2012 at

Further reading