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Historical Region of North India

Shahpura Haveli (Shekhawati).jpg
Location Northern Rajasthan 27°55′N 75°24′E / 27.917°N 75.400°E / 27.917; 75.400Coordinates: 27°55′N 75°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, sikar , jhunjhunu
Separated states

Shekhawati is a semi-arid historical region located in the northeast part of Rajasthan, India. The region is ruled by Shekhawat Rajput.

Shekhawati is located in North Rajasthan, comprising the districts of Jhunjhunu, Sikar, Churu and a part of Nagaur and Jaipur. It is bounded on the northwest by the Bikaner 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]

In the 17th to 19th centuries, Marwari merchants constructed grand havelis in the Shekhawati region. Steeped in wealth and affluence, the merchants attempted to outdo others by building more grand edifices – homes, temples, and step wells which were richly decorated both inside and outside with painted murals.[2]

Etymology of Shekhawati[edit]

Shekhawati was first mentioned in the book Bankidas ki Khyat.[3] A 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.[when?][4] Shekhawati is named after Rao Shekha.


Ancient history[edit]

Many historians have considered this region included in the Matsya Kingdom. Rigveda also provides certain evidences in this matter.[5][6] Manusmriti has called this land as 'Brahmrishi Desha'.[7]

Shekhawati region was included in 'Marukantar Desha' up to the Ramayana period. Out of 16 mahajanapadas prior to Buddha, only two Janapadas, namely Avanti and the Kingdom of Virata, were counted in the 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.[8]

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. The Vedas were supposed to be written and compiled on this very land.[9][10] 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 the habitation of Aryan.[11] The northern part of Rajasthan was known as Jangladesh (Bikaner and Nagaur) during the Mahabharata period[12] and the eastern part Jaipur-Alwar was called the Matsya Kingdom. The Pandavas had spent one year of their vanishment in the Kingdom of Virata as their abode, to live in anonymity, after the expiry of their twelve-year-long forest life.[5] Dhosi Hill, the revered hill bordering Haryana and famous for Chyavana Rishi's Ashram, as well as the place where Chyawanprash was formulated for the first time, has extensive mentions in the epic Mahabharat in Vanparv. According to Vimal Charanlal, the 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.[9][13]

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

Kaimkhani is a branch emerging from the 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[edit]

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.[14]

Thikanas of Shekhawati[edit]

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 kutcha 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.

Alphabetical list of original 33 Thikana is as follows:

  1. Balonda Thikana was granted to Raj Shree Thakur Dalel Singh ji Shekhawat with 12 village jagir,who migrate from pilani fort.who was son of raj shree thakur nawal singhji shekhawat of Nawalgarh and grandson of jhunjhunu maharaja shree shardul singh ji shekhawat.In first Raj shree thakur dalel singh ji shekhawat established pilani and built dalelgarh fort in pilani.Thakur Dalel Singh Ji was granted Pilani and Baloda with 12 villages.he was brave and perfect warriors during his lifetime he fought mandan war in 1832.after some time they migrated in baloda thikana and handed over baloda thikana with 12 other village jagir.raj shree Thakur dalel singh ji shekhawat was the first jagirdar/thikanedar of baloda thikana. Shekhawats of baloda thikana are of Bhojraj clan and Shardulsinghot subclan.
  2. Bissau Thikana, Bissau and Surajgarh merged to form Bissau
  3. Dundlod Thikana
  4. Hameerpura was granted to Gulab Singh; his descendants are called Rao ji ka.
  5. Jhunjhunu Thikana
  6. Khachariawas Thikana was granted to Raja Raisal's eldest son Lal Singh. As Akbar called Lal Singh the Lad Khan, this name became famous, and his descendants are known as Ladkhani. Khatu Thikana was granted to Raja Raisal's second son Kesari Singh.
  7. Kansarda Thikana was granted to Kanak Singh.
  8. Khandela Thikana
  9. Khatushyamji Thikana
  10. Loharu Thikana was the 33rd Thikana, which was granted to Arjun Singh, who constructed constructed a kutcha mud fort there in 1570, which was converted to a pucca fort in 1803.[15]
  11. Mandawa Thikana
  12. Mandela Thikana
  13. Mukundgarh Thikana
  14. Mundru Thikana
  15. Khelna
  16. luharu
  17. Indrapura Ratnawat clan,Churu[disambiguation needed]
  18. Nangali Saledi Singh Thikana was granted by Rao Bhojraj to his youngest son Saledi Singh Shekhawat.
  19. Nawalgarh Thikana
  20. Parasrampura Thikana
  21. Pentalisa Thikana
  22. Pilani Thikana was granted Dalel Singh Shekhawat, third son of maharaja Mawal Singh's of Nawalgarh. Dalel Singh was granted Baloda and Pilani with 12 villagea. He built Dalelgarh fort in Pilani, and after some time he migrated to Baloda Thikana.
  23. Shahpura Thikana, was 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.[16][17]
  24. Sikar Thikana was granted to Maharaja Rao Tirmal and his descendants are known as Rao Ji ka.
  25. Surajgarh Thikana
  26. Tosham Thikana
  27. Udaipurwati Thikana was granted by Raja Rtisal to his fifth son Rao Bhojraj. Rao Bhojraj was the ancestor of the Bhojraj Ji Ka branch of Shekhawats. His descendants founded many Thikanas and ruled over them. The group of 45 villages of Udaipurwati was known as Pentalisa), which included Jhajhar, Gudha, Sultana (Rao Hathi Ram Singh ji ka), Bagholi, Khirod, etc.


Feudalism functioned as an overriding 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.[18]

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.[18]


Shekhawati region of Rajasthan (in blue)

Shekhawati is in the Thar Desert of Rajasthan and has special importance in the history of India. It also covers part of the Bagar tract along the Haryana-Rajasthan border.

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.[19]

Major cities[edit]

Major cities in Shekhawati include:

Culture, heritage, and tourism[edit]

Shekhawati painted houses.


Shahpura Haveli is a three-hundred year old palace 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 was recognized as one of the Historic Hotels in the World in the year 2018.[20]

Havelis, temples and frescos[edit]

Most of the buildings of the Shekhawati region were constructed between the 18th century and the early 20th century. During the British occupation, traders adapted this style for their buildings.[21] The havelis are noted for their frescos depicting mythological and historical themes. The frescos include images of gods, goddesses, animals, and the lives 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 the National Capital Region (NCR).[22]

Language: Shekhawati dialect[edit]

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.[23] Shekhawati, like the Bagri dialect of Ganganagar and Hanumangarh districts, has a parallel lexicon which makes it very rich from a lexicographical point of view.[citation needed] Word order is typically SOV and there is the existence of implosives. The presence of high tone at the suprasegmental level classifies it with other dialects of Rajasthani. It has contributed significantly to the development of Rajasthani language and linguistics.

Some samples in Shekhawati are:

  • Kai Hoyo? कैं होयो?, 'What happened?'
  • The Kai kar rieya ho? थैं कैं कर रिह्या हो?, 'What are you doing?'
  • Ma Thane ghano samman desyu. मैं थांनै घणो सम्मान देस्यूं।, 'I will give you great respect.'
  • Thain sidh padhar rihya ho? थैं सिध पधार रिह्या हो?, 'Where are you going?'
  • Thain kein jeem rahiya ho? थैं कैं जीम रिह्या हो?, 'What are you eating?'


The Shekhawati region has the highest literacy in the state.[24] The predominant farming communities in the rural areas of Shekhawati are the Jats: they comprise the largest single caste in the state (nine 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.[25]

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 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 been established, which is the prime reason of the huge success the region is seeing.[editorializing] Shekhawati is even used for name keeping of the institutes[clarification needed] like Shekhawati Public School, Dundlod, Shekhawati Engineering college. There are many institutes named after Shekhawati.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Taknet, D.K, Marwari Samaj Aur Brijmohan Birla, Indian Institute of Marwari Entrepreneurship, Jaipur, 1993 p 78 ISBN 81-85878-00-5
  2. ^ Aditya Mukherjee, "Art through the lens: Havelis of Shekhawati", The Times of India (Nov 12, 2013)
  3. ^ Mukutji: Jaipur rajya ka bhugol, page 46-47
  4. ^ Sahiram: Ek adhūrī krānti, Shekhawati kā kisān āndolan (1922-1952), page-1
  5. ^ a b G H Ojha: Rajputane ka Itihasa (Part I), page 83
  6. ^ Sukh Sampati Raj Bhandari: Bharat ke deshi Rajya, Jaypur Rajya ka Itihas, page 3
  7. ^ Sahiram: Ek adhūrī krānti, Shekhawati kā kisān āndolan (1922-1952), page-3
  8. ^ Prithvi Singh Mehta: Hamara Rajasthan (1950), pages 30-31
  9. ^ a b Sahiram: Ek adhūrī krānti, Shekhawati kā kisān āndolan (1922-1952), page-2
  10. ^ Satapatha Brahman 13/5/9
  11. ^ Prithvi Singh Mehta: Hamara Rajasthan (1950), page 27
  12. ^ Prithvi Singh Mehta: Hamara Rajasthan (1950), page 28
  13. ^ G H Ojha: Rajputane ka Itihasa (Part I), page 86
  14. ^ Hooja, Rima (2006). A History of Shekhawats. Rupa & Company. p. 397.
  15. ^ Loharu Fort, Bhiwani, to be state-protected monument, The Tribune, 27 Aug 2021.
  16. ^ Hooja, Rima (2006). A History of Rajasthan. Rupa & Company. p. 499.
  17. ^ Hooja, Rima (2006). A History of Rajasthan. Rupa & Company. p. 689.
  18. ^ a b K.L. Sharma: Caste, Feudalism and Peasantry: The Social Formation of Shekhawati, Vedams eBooks (P) Ltd. New Delhi, 1998
  19. ^ Busquet, Carisse and Gerard Impressions of Rajasthan 2003, Editions Flammarion, ISBN 2-08-011171-X
  20. ^ Haveli, Shahpura (12 January 2018). "Shahpura Hotels". Condé Nast Traveller India.
  21. ^ Henderson, Carol D, Cultures and Customs of India; Greenwood Press 1992, ISBN 0-313-30513-7, pg. 92
  22. ^ Magnificent havelis of Nangal-Sirohi, The Tribune, 22 June 2002.
  23. ^ Lakhan Gusain. Shekhawati. Munich: Lincom Europa (2001) (LW/M 385)
  24. ^ Dr RP Arya, Jitendra Arya, Gayatri Arya, Anshuman Arya, Rajasthan Road Atlas, Indian Map Service, Jodhpur 2005
  25. ^ Princely States Report Archived 16 December 2012 at

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Ranbir singh Shekhawat(DUNDLOD) History of Shekhawats,Jaipur,2001 ISBN 81-86782-74-5
  • Ghansyamdas Birla: Bikhare Vicharon ki Bharonti, New Delhi, 1978
  • Rajasthan: the painted walls of Shekhavati, by Aman Nath and Francis Wacziarg. Vikas Publications, 1982. ISBN 0-7069-2087-2.