Last weekend we were in Churu Town of Rajasthan and the first thing to do in Churu was City Tour, mainly a 3 hour walk through the streets of Churu Town. This whole town has some of the very grand Havelis which are maintained by local folks. This Photo Journey shares some photographs of Havelis from Churu Town with relevant information.
After crazy drive from Delhi to Churu, we reached Maji Ka Karma which is a Heritage Hotel in the town. Deepak at 'Malji Ka Karma' had organized this city tour for us after lunch. So after having our lunch we moved to the street walk with a local guide Lal Singh. Malji ki Kamra was basically a Haveli for guests, so we first encountered the main Haveli of Malji which was just across the Hotel.
Churu is a beautiful town in the desert region of Rajasthan state of India. When I say beautiful, it essentially means the Heritage value and different culture to explore. Otherwise these streets were not very clean. Churu is also known as gateway to the Thar Desert of Rajasthan. Churu town is the administrative headquarters of a District of Rajasthan.
Churu District lies in the Thar Desert around National Highway-65 which connects Pali to Ambala. Town is very well connected through Train as well. Churu Town is near shifting sand dunes of the Thar Desert & during the trip we had bonfire in desert as well. As of now, let's talk more about the Havelis and the heritage this town has.
Churu has grand havelis with marvelous fresco paintings, which can be seen in almost every street of the town. Some of the biggest Havelis in Churu are Kanhaiya lal Bagla ki Haweli and Surana Haweli, with hundreds of small windows. There is also a Hawa Mahal which has 1111 windows and doors of different sizes. Churu also has some fine Chhatris but relatively lesser in number as compared to Havelis. Mr Lal Singh took us to different Havelis.
Near Churu town, there is a Dharam Stupa, which symbolizes religious equality and supposedly, it's a popular religious place. At the centre of the Churu town, there is a fort which is built about 400 years ago. Because of this short trip, we couldn't visit this fort but it seems there is hardly any preservation of the fort and very few folks go there.
Most of the walls of these Havelis were Painted. Some of the paintings were not in good shape but most of them were there and we could make out the subjects drawn. Only very few Havelis were well maintained and some of them had redrawn the painting. Few looked good and many of them seemed overdone with modern colors. Charm of painting done with natural colors is very different and can't be replaced with chemical colors. There were paintings of Maharaja of Bikaner, the closest Rajya to Churu.
Arches in different Havelis have intricate work and this really shows the way art-forms were used in building these luxurious places to live. There is something very special about discovering the unknown. While walking through these lanes, I realized that many of the popular cities of Rajasthan must also have such Heritage Havelis but we end up exploring popular things which are marketed well by commercial players of those cities/towns/regions. For the regular tourist, Churu is a dusty little town in Rajasthan with no infrastructure and no real attraction. But if we take time to know more and keep exploring, every Haveli of Churu Town has stories to tell about prosperity & strong culture. What makes Churu Town special is because of historical value and it's strong cultural environment.
Most Havelis in Churu Town of Rajasthan are owned by the various generations of the Kothari and Parekh Family. Most of them are in very bad for and slowly converting into ruins. Most of these have caretakers but even those families can take care of small portions of these Havelis. Mostly 2-5 rooms out of hundreds are operational in most of these Havelis of Churu. Above photograph is shot from the top of a Haveli and the views from top were amazing...
At times, these Havelis were haunting and while we were roaming, may of us were already talking about ghosts n all. While moving around these streets, we started talking about ghosts and the discussion continued throughout the trip. The Hawa Mahal speaks the about haunted air of the place.
Every part of these Havelis in Churu is a piece of art in itself - Be it windows or doors, Pillars or Basements, Roofs or Terraces or the way these Havelis are structured across the narrow streets... Looking up and imaging the way these were built make you think about the expertise available at that point of time. Through paintings on these Havelis there are various stories told in colors. At the same time, all these paintings also depict elemental stuff. Be it trains, cars, horses, elephants, palakis, gods, godesses etc.
While exploring these streets of Churu Town in Rajasthan, we met some Silver artists, who were making crockery with silver and it seems that most of this stuff is exported.
During the walk some of us were discussing about the heritage value of windows, doors & other artifacts in these Havelis. And it was shocking to see that no one is worried about the preservation of many of these things in town. Only government or actual owners of these properties can take this bigger responsibility of preserve this Heritage and increase the lifetime of this town, region and the state.
Many of these Havelis in Churu have portraits of the Maharaja of Bikaner and the ancestors of the family who own few of these Havelis in Churu town of Rajasthan. During these walks and discussions, we realized that like any other town everyone has his/her own version of stories and all these paintings are also depicted on the basis of their own biases and respect for different Seths and Maharajs. While walking through the streets and Havelis of Churu, we reaches a street having heavy painting work on outer walls. A wall was showing very different stuff. Churu town had Marwari merchants who were one of the rich communities of town and considered as well travelled folks of that time. On some of the walls we noticed Jesus Christ images. Some of the depiction on these walls can be disturbing for believers of religions.
There is a well presevred Temple in the town, which is surrounded by Havelis. The Jain temple replicates the exact architecture found in Amer Fort of Jaipur. We shall share a specific Story on Jain Temple of Churu Town. One of the few things maintained in Churu town was a temple, which is funded by the Kothari family.
Having this Hertitage Haveli Walk is one of the main things to do in Churu town and every traveller should not miss this.