Piramal Haveli by Neemrana - the Gateway to Shekhawati heritage in Rajasthan

I absolutely love staying at Neemrana Hotels and there are two key reasons - their absolutely fantastic locations and their affordable prices. In fact, I feel that Neemrana has made heritage hotels accessible to the middle class in India with their properties and we don't have to burn our pockets for experiencing India of the bygone era.

I was invited by Neemrana to visit Piramal Haveli a while back but I could never really share my experiences here as not just India but the entire world went into a lockdown soon after and sharing my travel experiences just didn't make sense. I know it's still not yet time to bring our guards down and start travelling again, but maybe stories like this one will help you make your travel plans for future. As for me, it helps me heal by thinking about days when life used to be so carefree and I absolutely loved such unpredictable surprises.

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Piramal Haveli at Bagar

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Entrance to the Haveli

So coming back to Piramal Haveli - it was built in 1928 in the Rajasthani-Italianate style by Seth Piramal Chaturbhuj Makhania who was a trade in precious metals, opium, among other things. Since it was built at a time when European architectural styles were making their way in India, this haveli also adopted some of those - the beautiful long columns and the patterns on the floor are both reminiscent of European influence. 

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Stunning Italian styled columns at the haveli

My stay at Piramal Haveli

When I visited the haveli, the place was almost empty with just two more guests. I love when this happens - it seemed like the place belonged to me and I could move around taking pictures and capturing the beauty of this place without inhibitions. I did make friends with a lady who worked at WHO and her father who were there to relax for the weekend. On the second day some more guests came to attend a function at BITS Pilani (I believe it was a reunion for a certain batch) and they certainly added more color to the place. It's a lovely campus and I visited it a few years back to give an TEDx talk. I digress (as usual).

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That's just me posing near my room :)

On the night I reached, I was lucky to also witness a local wedding which went on till late in the night. I did join the baraat and took their pictures - camera really helps on such occasions!

For me the main reason for my stay at Piramal Haveli was to explore the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan. It's something that's been on my mind and in my heart for a long long time, and so when I finally had an opportunity to go there, I jumped at it. 

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Time for my breakfast

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The entrance to Bagar town 

When I planned a stay at the hotel, I had no idea that the town where it's located is also home to some beautiful Shekhawati havelis. I actually spent two mornings exploring these and making pictures. In fact, you'll realise as soon as you reach here that even though some places are more famous for their havelis, almost all towns have a few which are worth visiting. 

The good food and hospitality at the hotel became secondary to me as I was engulfed by the beauty of the place. Magical is one word to describe it, but it won't do justice to my feelings.

At this point you might be wondering - what exactly is Shekhawati?

Well, when most people think of Shekhawati, they think of Shekhawati havelis. To an extent that's correct, but the answer is a bit more nuanced. Shekhawati is a region in Rajasthan which became quite prosperous due to the many residents who travelled outside and became rather rich. They sent back money home which was put to good use by building splendid homes and palaces (of course reflective of their financial status). Eventually many of these rich families moved to the big cities leaving behind the these marvellous homes to caretakers, or in some cases just abandoned. 

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One of the most iconic havelis

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Outside one of the humbler haveli

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An empty courtyard at a huge haveli

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More posing - at a haveli this time :)

The havelis or the Shekhawati area didn't become a tourist attraction until much later as tourism grew and these homes with colourful and intricate frescos (both inside and outside) really stood out. It's been on the tourist circuit, primarily for international tourists for many years now. When I visited there (this was 2019) there was hardly any foreigner even though it was peak season. This allowed me really roam around the place on my own with almost no one around. There were a few local visitors, but they were only a few.

If you are interested in learning more about Shekhawati Havelis, here's an excellent article. Well done Garima!

So I would absolutely recommend exploring the Shekhawati region if you plan a visit to Piramal Haveli. There's nothing quite like it and you won't regret it at all. 

Tips for exploring Shekhawati:

  1. Please be prepared for a lot of heat though and carry as much water as you can. All the towns are used to tourists and you will find good and hygienic food and water easily when you travel. 
  2. You do need a car. Book one at the hotel or ask them to help find a local car and driver.
  3. Know where you are going - frankly there's way too much to see and you'll always be short of time. So prioritise. 
  4. Read up about the paintings in advance if you can as that'll help you understand the context and the stories better. 
  5. If you aren't sure which towns to go to, here are the ones I recommend - Nawalgarh, Jhunjhunu, Churu and Mandawa.

I will certainly do a complete post dedicated to the Shekhawati havelis sometime soon in future (I hope, so keep an eye for that).

Stay at Piramal

Booking

I would suggest that the best way to do it would be on their website itsself Piramal Haveli. You an also always speak to them over a call and they'll certainly help you pick the right place to stay.

To reach

It's easy to reach from Delhi in your car or a cab. From Delhi International Airport, it's about 5-6 hours away and the road is quite good. Here's a map for your reference.



Disclaimer: I was hosted at the Piramal haveli by Neemrana hotels. All the views expressed are my own and based on my personal experiences. 

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