The main attraction for our family road trip last winters through Shekhawati region of Rajasthan was to visit and photograph the renowned heritage havelis (and their frescos)of shekhawati region. We visited 3 towns in Shekhawati region – Bagar, Jhunjhunu and Nawalgarh, and out of these three, Nawalgarh has some of the best maintained havelis, with beautiful frescos, woodworks and stonework.
Poddar Haveli Museum in Nawalgarh town, Shekhawati, Rajasthan is one of the two best preserved havelis which have been turned into museums (the other one is Morarka Haveli Museum) in Nawalgarh and it is a must visit if one is interested in the haveli architecture and frescos of shekhawati. Sharing my experience here, of visiting Poddar Haveli Museum in Nawalgarh, shekhawati region, Rajasthan (India).
The shekhawati region of Rajasthan is home to the Marwari business community, which travelled all over India for their businesses. It is said that some of these business families were more richer than the kings they served. so they built these exquisite havelis for their families, which though not opulent, had the most stunning and intricate frecos & paintings. Over time, majority of the families moved away from Rajasthan, to other cities for businesses and shekhawati became an open air gallery of crumbling havelis and frescos (with a caretaker each left to look after it). However, for some years now, some of the larger Marwari business houses have restored their ancestral havelis and converted them into museums for travelers & tourists.
Poddar Haveli Museum is located on a narrow lane about 200-300 meters from main street of Nawalgarh market (Naya Bazaar). The façade is very impressive and looking at it, from the street, one can make out that this haveli has been renovated well. The main entrance door is quite impressive and as one walks into the courtyard, the tone & texture of the frescos make quite an impact on the visitor.
We had a local guide with us but the Caretaker of the Haveli was such a enthusiastic chap, who took us on the tour, that the guide just went out for rest! The caretaker told us that Poddar haveli owners have taken pro-active steps to conserve the frescos and have employed a national award winning fresco artist to re-touch the damaged frescos. We also met the artist and he took us to some of his recently renovated frescos, showing us the difference between old painting and how it has been restored by him so that on first glance, the difference cannot be made out.
There are varying themes of the paintings in the Poddar Haveli Museum, such as gods & goddesses, religious murals, birds, animals, floral patterns and life in marwar (similar to Morarka Haveli Museum). However, the color tone & patterns in Poddar Haveli Museum is completely different from Morarka Haveli; while Morarka haveli has vibrant blue color as the major visual effect, the Poddar Haveli has more of a green-brown-yellow visual effect.
There is a small fee for entering this haveli museum and is open to public fro morning till sundown.
Poddar Haveli Museum is commendable for preserving its heritage in the best possible way. It shows immense opportunity that the haveli owners have is renovating the old havelis of shekhawati region which are so famed for the frescos. We had a nice time at the Poddar Haveli Museum and recommend a visit to it if in Nawalgarh.