Shekhawati: Wikis


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Historical Region of North India
Shekhawati (शेखावाटी)
Mandawa fort
Location Northern Rajasthan
Flag of 19th c.
Jaipur Princely State
Flag of Jaipur.svg
State established: 1445
Language Shekhawati
Dynasty Shekhawats (1445-1949),branch of Kachawa Dynasty of Jaipur
Historical capitals Amarsar, Shahpura
Separated states Thikanas of Shekhawati: Khandela, Khatu, Khood, Sikar, Pentalisa, Panchpana, Khetri, etc.

Shekhawati (Hindi: शेखावाटी, IAST: Śekhāwāṭī) is a semi-arid historical region located in the northeast part of Rajasthan, India.

It encompasses the administrative districts of Jhunjhunu and Sikar. From the administrative and geographical point of view Shekhawati is limited to Jhunjhunu and Sikar districts only. It is bounded on the northwest by Jangladesh region, on the northeast by Haryana, on the east by Mewat, on the southeast by Dhundhar, on the south by Ajmer, on the southwest by Marwar regions. However, some parts of Churu and Nagaur districts are also considered in the Shekawati region.

Its area is 13784 square kilometers.[1]. The inhabitants of Shekhawati are considered brave, sacrificing and hard working people. The region provides the highest number of persons to the Indian Army. The region of Shekhawati is also known as Scotland of India because of its brave, sacrificing and painstaking Rajput people.


Etymology of Shekhawati

Shekhawati was first mentioned in the book 'Bankidas ki khyat'.[2] Contemporary of Bankidas was Col. W.S.Gardener, who used the word Shekhawati in the year 1803. Later Col James Tod wrote the first history of Shekhawati. The term Shekhawati was used frequently in 'vamsh bhaskar'. This suggests that the term Shekhawaticame in use about two and half centuries ago.[3]

Shekhawati derives its name from the Rajput Kachhwaha chieftain Rao Shekha Ji. The descendants of Rao Shekha Ji, the ruling clan is called Shekhawat. The story of Shekha's birth is interesting to understand the origin of Shekhawati. Mokal Ji and his wife were troubled as they had no son for several years. They heard about the miraculous powers of the Sheikh Burhan, a Muslim saint and decided to visit him. After they received the Sheikh's blessing a son was born to the couple. In honour of the mendicant, the couple named their son Shekha.

Shekhawati means Garden of Shekha or Land of Shekhawat Rulers.

About origin of word Shekhawati Hakim Yusuf Jhunjhunuvi gives another view. According to him Shekhawati derives its name from Persian language word 'Sheekh' which means 'Sand deposited on the coastal area of sea'. This indicates that this area has been inundated with seawater long back and converted to sand dunes over thousands of years[4][5][6] It is not clear when these seas dried up and receded but the desert was created due to the receding of the sea.

Millions of years ago this land was inundated with sea water.[7][8][9]; fossils found in the area confirm that is was once a covered by seawater.[10] Gaurishankar Hirachand Ojha believed that the desert area of Rajasthan was earlier an ocean but due to earthquakes and other climatic reasons the seabed rose and the water receded southwards leaving behind a sand mass, which later came to be known as marukantar. The presence of shells, conch etc found in stone form in this area is clear evidence that this was a sea earlier.[11][12]


Shekhawati region of Rajasthan

Shekhawati in a desert area of Rajasthan and has special importance in the history of India.

The natural climatic conditions in the region are very harsh and extreme. The temperature ranges from sub-zero Celsius in winter to more than 50°C in summer. The summer brings hot waves of air called loo. Annual rainfall is very low, around 450 to 600 mm. The ground water is as deep as 200 feet (60 m), and in places water is hard and salty. The people in the region depend on rainwater harvesting. The July and August rainwater is stored in pucca tanks and used throughout the year for drinking purposes.[13] Bawdis and johads are traditionally constructed for storing water received from rainfall in this arid region of Rajasthan. The bawdi is constructed in such a design that it gets narrower as we go down. The water stored in it is very cool and used for drinking purposes. On average every third year is dry and every eighth year the region experiences famine. The famine of 1899 is considered to have been the most severe. During famine years it becomes very difficult for animals to survive and the cattle population declines drastically.

Shekhawati Dialect

Shekhawati is a dialect of the Rajasthani language and is spoken by about three million speakers in Churu, Jhunjhunu and Sikar districts of Rajasthan. Though a very important dialect from the grammatical and literary points of view, yet very little work is carried out on it. In 2001 A descriptive grammar of Shekhawati has been published.[14] Shekhawati, like Bagri dialect of Ganganagar and Hanumangarh districts, has parallel lexicon which make it very rich from the lexicographical point of view. Word order is typical SOV and there is existence of implosives. Beside presence of high tone at suprasegmental level classify it with other dialects of Rajasthani. It has contributed a lot to the development of Rajasthani language and linguistics.

Some samples in Shekhawati are:

  • Kai Hoyo? कै होयो? = What happened ?
  • The Kai kar rieya ho? थे कै कर रिया हो?= what are you doing ?
  • Ma Thane ghano samman desyu. मैं थाने घणो सम्मान देस्यु = I will give you big respect.
  • The sidh ja riya ho? थे सिद्ध जा रिया हो?= Where are you going?

the kye kha rahiya ho



Ancient history

Many historians have considered this region included in the Matsya Kingdom. Rigveda also provides certain evidences in this matter.[15][16] Manusmriti has called this land as 'brahmrishi desha'.[17]

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.[18]

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 Saraswati 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.[19][20] 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.[21]

The northern part of Rajasthan was known as Jangladesh (Bikaner and Nagaur) during Mahabharata period.[22] 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.[23] 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 confluence of Chambal River 229 km in the south. The capital of this Kingdom of Virata was Bairat.[24][25]

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.

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.

Shekhawat Rule

Bawdi in Fatehpur
Laxmangarh fort of Sikar

Shekhawati was established by Shekhawat Rajputs and it was ruled by them till India's Independence.

Rao Shekha Ji 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 on them.

Shekhawati was the largest Nizamat of Jaipur State, almost the whole of which is occupied by Shekhawats. The Shekhawat chieftains of the region retained a nominal loyalty to the Kachwaha Rajput's capital state of Jaipur, who in turn honoured them with the hereditary title of Tazimi Sirdars. The Rulers of the Shekhawati's Thikanas were the Shekhawat sub clan of Kachwaha Dynasty of Jaipur Princely State. Shekhawats was the most prominent among all the Kachawas of Jaipur. Col. J.C. Brooke in his book Political History of India wrote that for the recruitment of Horse-army there is no region in India at par with Shekhawati.

Thikanas of Shekhawati

Shekhawats were brave Rajputs; they established many Thikanas, towns and villages in Shekhawati and built many Forts, Castles, palaces and Havelis.

  • Rao Suja's younger son Rajah Raisal was the brave king; he conquered Khandela from Nirbans and succeeded as the Raja Sahib of Khandela. He had 12 sons among them 5 were died in battle. His seventh son Raja Girdhar succeeded as the Rajah of Khandela and his descendents are known as Girdhar Ji Ka Shekhawats.
  • Raja Raisal's elder son was Thakur Lal Singh, he was granted Khachariawas Thikana and his son Kesari Singh founded Khatu. As Akbar called Lal Singh Lad Khan, this name become famous, and his descendants are known as Ladkhani.
  • Raja Raisal's third son Rao Tirmal was the ancestor of "Rao Ji Ka" Sept of Shekhawats. He was granted the parganas of Nagore and Kasli (with 84 villages). Rao Daulat Singh son of Rao Jaswant Singh of Kasli, founded Sikar in 1687.
  • Raja Raisal's fifth son Rao Bhojraj was brave and a generous person; he received the Udaipurwati as his Jagir by his father. He was the ruler of Udaipurwati (The group of 45 villages of Udaipurwati was known as Pentalisa) and he was ancestor of the Bhojraj Ji Ka sept of Shekhawats. Descendants of Rao Bhojraj founded many Thikanas and ruled over them. Pentalisa was composed of Jhajhar, Gudha, Khirod, etc.
  • Thakur Shardul Singh, a descendant of Rao Bhojraj Ji, conquered the Jhunjhunu in 1730 from the Kayamkhani Nawabs. Thakur Shardul Singh had six sons, namely, Thakur Jorawar Singh, Thakur Kishan Singh, Kunwar Bahadur Singh (died in his Kunwarpadi), Thakur Akhe Singh, Thakur Nawal singh Bahadur and Thakur Kesari Singh. Unfortunately, Bahadur Singh had expired in an early age. Later on Thakur Shardul Singh's estate was divided into five equal shares among his five sons. These five shares were known as Panchpana. It was a second territory, ruled by Bhojraj Ji Ka. Panchpana was composed of the Thikanas of Khetri, Bissau, Mukandgarh, Nawalgarh, Dundlod, Mandawa, Taen, Mahansar, Alsisar, Malsisar, Mandrella, Arooka, Chowkari, Hirwa, Sigra, Surajgarh, etc. Akhe Singh died without issue, so his share was given to the other brothers. Thakur Shardul Singh's sons and their descendants founded many new well planned and prosperous Thikanas.

Many Thikanas had their own flags and emblems. Shekhawats ruled over the largest number of Thikanas in Jaipur Rajwara..[26]

In the 19th century Sikar was the largest and wealthiest Thikana and the Khetri was the second wealthiest Thikana of Jaipur State.

Culture, heritage and tourism


Shekhawats built many magnificent forts in their Thikanas. Every Thikana in Shekhawati was the site of a Fort and Shekhawati was richest and the most eventful place, thus Shekhawati has more than 50 forts and Palaces built by Shekhawat Rajas. Many of them are hotels today.

  • Castle Mandawa (Mandawa Fort), built by Thakur Nawal Singh Bahadur in 1755. The legendary Castle Mandawa takes you back to the grandeur of its royal past. In the zenana or women's quarters, various rooms offer different flavor. One room has antique murals, another has a marble fountain, while the turret room boasts of 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.
  • Dundlod Fort, dates back to 1750 AD. Steps lead up to the Diwan Khana furnished with portraits, hangings and period furniture. It also houses a library and portraits done in the European style.
  • Roop Niwas Kothi (Palace)was established as a large country house by Rawal Madan Singh (former ruler of Nawalgarh). Popularly known as "Rawal Sab Ki Kothi" in Nawalgarh. It sits on over 100 acres (0.40 km2) lovingly Royal Residence. The facade is painted in charming ochre that lends it dignity. The hotel organises horse safaris. Stables at the back. Watch them early in the morning when they exercise. Nawalgarh is a beautiful city.
  • Mukundgarh Fort, this magnificent fort built by Thakur Mukund Singh Ji, he established Mukundgarh in 1859 the fort was built in a traditional style, spreads over 2 acres (8,100 m2) of land. It has several courtyards, overhanging balconies, arched windows and corridors displaying the richness, diversity and tradition of Shekhawati wall paintings.
  • Narain Niwas Castle (Mahansar Fort), built in 1768 by Thakur Nahar Singh, with an imposing entrance, and reached by flight of stairs it also has its richest horde of wall paintings.
  • Alsisar Mahal (Alsisar Fort), Alsisar Mahal, a battle hardened fort, was the residence of the Thakur of Alsisar
  • Dera Danta Kila (Danta Fort), two fortresses straddle the hills, their foundations laid in 1702 to house the army, the stables, and the royal residence of Thakur Amar Singh
  • Castle Pachar
  • Surajgarh Fort
  • Arooka Castle

Havelis, Temples and frescos

This temple built by Shekhawat ruler of Nawalgarh

In Shekhawati first of all, Frescoes were introduced by Shekhawat Rajputs in their Forts n Palaces. The towns of Shekhawati region are known for their painted havelis. This region has been recognised as the "open art gallery of Rajasthan" having the largest concentration of frescos in the world.

The Marwaris from Marwar was the influential business community in the Shekhawati region, and they prospered until the beginning of the 19th century, because of the caravan routes that crossed the area to reach the ports of Gujarat. But from 1820 onwards, many left their families behind and migrated to Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras, which were gaining importance as main trade centers. There they had great financial success. The descendants of these rich merchants have permanently settled down in the towns where their ancestors immigrated. The Shekhawati region has produced large number of Marwaris who are controlling the economy of India. About 80 percent of big industrial houses are managed by Marwaris. India's richest industrialists of the century, such as the Birlas and Dalmia, are Marwaris. Today, the main trading and industrial houses of India have their roots in Shekhawati.

Between 1830 and 1930, they erected buildings in their homeland, Shekhawati, as evidence of their success. As the ultimate symbol of their opulence, the Marwaris commissioned artists to paint those buildings.

Most of the buildings of the Shekhawati region were constructed from 18th century to the early 20th century. During the British occupation, traders adapted this style for their buildings.[27] The havelis are noted for their frescos depicting mythological and historical themes. The frescos include images of gods, goddesses, animals, life history of Lords Rama and Krishna, profusely painted on the havelis in this region.

Marwaris have played an important role in the development of Shekhawati region. Their major contribution to the Shekhawati region is in the field of education. Marwaris have also played a leading role in Indian Independence Movement. They provided financial help in running the freedom movement.

Some of the famous Marwari industrial houses are as follows: Bagari, Bajaj, Birla, Chandgothia, Dalmia, Didwania, Ganeriwal, Goyanka, Jaipuria, Jaju, Jalan, Jhujhunuwala, Kanoria, Khetan, Kothari, Lohia, Mittal, Modi, Murarka, Parasrampuria, Poddar, Ruia, Rungta, Singhania, Agrawal/Agarwal, Sarda/ Sharda, Sanghi, Somani, Sudrania, Surana, Dujodwala,

Tourism attractions

  • Forts & Castles
  • Horse Safaris
  • The Heritage on Wheels, a luxury tourist train on meter gauge, takes you to the lesser known and colourful area of Shekhawati Region. Heritage on Wheels is a luxury train in Rajasthan by RTDC and Indian Railways.
  • Havelis
  • Fairs and Fastivals

Towns and cities of Shekhawati

Villages and towns of Shekhawati are most developing places of Rajasthan. The major towns and cities of the Shekhawati region are as follows(alphabetical order):

  • Some famous villages

Feudalism in Shekhawati

The 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 traceable in the present day Rajasthan which was a prominent stronghold of feudalism prior to independence.[28]

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 the Shekhawati region.[29]

Farmers of Shekhawati

The Marwaris dominate the cities and towns of Shekhawati region. The rural areas of the Shekhawati region are dominated by farming communities. The farmers of the Shekhawati region are considered to be the most advanced in the state of Rajasthan, second only to farmers from Shri Ganganagar and Hanumangarh districts. The Shekhawati region has the highest literacy in the state. [30]

The predominant farmer communities in the rural areas of Shekhawati are the Jats: they comprise the largest single caste in the state (9 per cent), and were, in the 1930s and even earlier, the most self-conscious and prosperous among the peasant castes. 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.[31] The Rajput community who were the jagirdars before independence still play very important role in society. The Brahmans and Harijans also play an important role in the area. The farmers of the region have done great struggle to come to the present status.

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.[32]


  1. ^ Taknet, D.K, Marwari Samaj Aur Brijmohan Birla, Indian Institute of Marwari Entrepreneurship, Jaipur, 1993 p 78 ISBN 81-85878-00-5
  2. ^ Mukutji: Jaipur rajya ka bhugol, page 46-47
  3. ^ Sahiram: Ek adhūrī krānti, Shekhawati kā kisān āndolan (1922-1952), page-1
  4. ^ Hakim Yusuf Jhunjhunuvi: Jhunjhunu ka Itihasa, Vol III page-10
  5. ^ Mansukh Ranwa 'Manu', Amar Shaheed Lotu Jat, J C Ranwa Prakashan, Sikar, 2001 p-13
  6. ^ Sahiram: Ek adhūrī krānti, Shekhawati kā kisān āndolan (1922-1952), page-1
  7. ^ Devi Singh Mandawa: Shardul Singh Shekhawat, page 17
  8. ^ Rajputane ka uthala samudra, page-21
  9. ^ FE Partiger: Ancient Indian historical tradition, page-260
  10. ^ Parmeshwar Solanki: Rajasthan marupradesh ka iti vritatmak vivechan, page 16
  11. ^ G H Ojha: Rajputane ka Itihasa (Part I), page 83
  12. ^ Sahiram: Ek adhūrī krānti, Shekhawati kā kisān āndolan (1922-1952), page-2
  13. ^ Busquet, Carisse and Gerard Impressions of Rajasthan 2003, Editions Flammarion, ISBN 2-08-011171-X
  14. ^ Lakhan Gusain. Shekhawati. Munich: Lincom Europa (2001) (LW/M 385)
  15. ^ Sukh Sampati Raj Bhandari: Bharat ke deshi rajya, Jaypur rajya ka Itihas, page 3
  16. ^ G H Ojha: Rajputane ka Itihasa (Part I), page 83
  17. ^ Sahiram: Ek adhūrī krānti, Shekhawati kā kisān āndolan (1922-1952), page-3
  18. ^ Prithvi Singh Mehta: Hamara Rajasthan (1950), pages 30-31
  19. ^ Satapatha Brahman 13/5/9
  20. ^ Sahiram: Ek adhūrī krānti, Shekhawati kā kisān āndolan (1922-1952), page-2
  21. ^ Prithvi Singh Mehta: Hamara Rajasthan (1950), page 27
  22. ^ Prithvi Singh Mehta: Hamara Rajasthan (1950), page 28
  23. ^ G H Ojha: Rajputane ka Itihasa (Part I), page 83
  24. ^ G H Ojha: Rajputane ka Itihasa (Part I), page 86
  25. ^ Sahiram: Ek adhūrī krānti, Shekhawati kā kisān āndolan (1922-1952), page-2
  26. ^ Shekhawat
  27. ^ Henderson, Carol D, Cultures and Customs of India; Greenwood Press 1992, ISBN 0-313-30513-7, pg. 92
  28. ^ K.L. Sharma: Caste, Feudalism and Peasantry: The Social Formation of Shekhawati, Vedams eBooks (P) Ltd. New Delhi, 1998
  29. ^ K.L. Sharma: Caste, Feudalism and Peasantry: The Social Formation of Shekhawati, Vedams eBooks (P) Ltd. New Delhi, 1998
  30. ^ Dr RP Arya, Jitendra Arya, Dr Gayatri Arya, Anshuman Arya, Rajasthan Road Atlas, Indian Map Service, Jodhpur 2005
  31. ^ Princely States Report
  32. ^ Dr Natthan Singh, Jat-Itihas, (Jat History), Jat Samaj Kalyan Parishad, F-13, Dr Rajendra Prasad Colony, Tansen marg, Gwalior, M.P, India 474 002 2004

Further reading

  • Rao Shekha
  • Shekhawati Prakash
  • Jhunjhunu Mandal Ka Itihas
  • Sikar Ka Itihas
  • Ranbir singh Shekhawat(DUNDLOD) History of Shekhawats,Jaipur,2001 ISBN 81-86782-74-5
  • Ghansyamdas Birla: Bikhare Vicharon ki Bharonti, New Delhi, 1978

External links



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