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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
Separated states

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


Shekhawati is located in North Rajasthan comprising districts of Shahpura, Jhunjhunu, Sikar, Churu and a part of Nagaur and Jaipur. 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. Its area is 13784 square kilometers. [1]

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. [2]

Etymology of Shekhawati

Shekhawati 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.


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.

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]

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 are 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 [16] .

Thikanas of Shekhawati

Gate of Shahpura House, Shekhawati, Rajputana build by Shekhawat Ruler Gate of Shahpura House, Shekhawati, Rajputana build by Shekhawat Ruler.jpg
Gate of Shahpura House, Shekhawati, Rajputana build by Shekhawat Ruler

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.

  • Shahpura Thikana, the Head Seat of Shekhawat Clan. Shahpura was a Tazimi Thikana of Shekhawat Sub Clan and was Granted by Rao Shekha to his youngest son Rao Lunkaran [17] [18] .

Culture, heritage, and tourism

Shekhawati painted houses. Shekhawati painted houses.jpg
Shekhawati painted houses.


Shahpura Haveli , A 300 hundred year old Palace was built by Rao Pratap Singh, Descendant of Rao Shekha in the 17th Century. In the zenana (women's quarters), various rooms offer different themes. One room has antique murals, another has a marble fountain, while the turret room has walls that are 7 feet (2.1 m) thick. Diwankhana, the formal drawing room, is decorated with family portraits and an array of antique armour. The Haveli was then renovated by Maharaj Surendra Singh and is now running as a Heritage Hotel. The Haveli got recognized as one of the Historic Hotels in the World in the Year 2018 [19] .

Havelis, temples and frescos

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. [20] 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 Nangal Sirohi in Mahendragarh district, 130 km from Delhi are popular for their Shekhawati architecture within NCR. [21]


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 the everyday life of the people of the 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. [22]

Today a remarkable discontinuity in distributive processes and social relations, the simultaneous occurrence of the processes of upward and downward social mobility and a self-perpetuating process of social transformation could be witnessed in Shekhawati. [22]


The Shekhawati region has the highest literacy in the state. [23] 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. [24]

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, the 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

Shekha of Amarsar Shekhawati MahaRaja

Maharao Shekha (1433–1488) was a chieftain in 15th-century India. He is the namesake of the Shekhawati region, comprising the districts of Sikar, Churu and Jhunjhunu in the modern Indian state of Rajasthan. His descendants are known as the "Shekhawat".

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.

Nawalgarh, Rajasthan city in Rajasthan, India

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. Narendra karwal is famous politician of nawalghar

<i>Chhatri</i> Elevated, dome-shaped pavilions in Indian architecture

Chhatri are elevated, dome-shaped pavilions used as an element in Indian architecture. The word Chhatri means "canopy" or "umbrella." In the context of architecture, the word is used to refer to two different things. The usual and more widely understood meaning is of a memorial, usually very ornate, built over the site where the funeral (cremation) of an important personage was performed. Such memorials usually consist of a platform girded by a set of ornate pillars which hold up a stone canopy.

Thakur Deshraj (1903–1970) was a social worker, journalist, nationalist, freedom fighter and author. 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 and Jai Singh are alive. His son Rajjan Singh and his grandson Jasveer Singh are currently popular Jat politician of Bharatpur.

Shekhawat is a clan of Rajputs found mainly in Rajasthan, India.

Loharu city in Haryana, India

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Mandawa Town in Rajasthan, India

Mandawa is a town in Jhunjhunu district of Rajasthan in India. It is part of Shekhawati region. Mandawa is situated 190 km off Jaipur in the north. The town lies between latitude 28° 06’ in the north and longitude 75° 20’ in the east. Mandawa is known for its fort and havelis. The fort town of Mandawa is well connected with the other places in region through a good network of roads.

Shahpura, Jaipur Town in Rajasthan, India

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Fadanpura village in Rajasthan, India

Fadanpura is a village in Fatehpur tehsil of Sikar district in Rajasthan, 5 km away from Fatehpur City by road. The village was founded by Jyani gotra Jats, who came from Chainpura village about 400 years back. Jat gotras in the village are Bhuria, Bagaria, Jyani, Garhwal. There are about 260 families of naruka Shekhawat and Brahmins, Rajputs and Jangids, Nai and SC-casts. Jangids are came from Surtpura village about 200 year back. There are about 450 houses in the village, with a total population above 1100 people.Five temples in this village and most oldest temple of "THAKUR G" made by shekhawat's situated in middle of this village. Other temples name are Sati Dadi Jamvay Maa Jasnath ji Mharaj and Lord Hanuman. Sati Dadi's temple, made by Khetaram Jangid, is 2km away from this village. Jasnath ji Mharaj's temple made by Jyani is the first temple you can see when you come in this village by road.

Jhajhar Village in Rajasthan, India

Jhajhar is a village, situated in the erstwhile province of Shekhawati of Rajasthan, India. It is located in the district of Jhunjhunu, approximately 7 km from Nawalgarh. Formally it was the part of Pentalisa of Bhojyana.

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.

Kalipahari village in Rajasthan, India

Kalipahari village is a big community of shekhawat Rajputs.

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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  12. Satapatha Brahman 13/5/9
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  14. Prithvi Singh Mehta: Hamara Rajasthan (1950), page 28
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  18. Hooja, Rima (2006). A History of Rajasthan. Rupa & Company. p. 689.
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  24. Princely States Report Archived 16 December 2012 at

Further reading