Shekhawati

Shekhawati

Shekhawati (Hindi: शेखावाटी, IAST: "unicode|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. Taknet, D.K, Marwari Samaj Aur Brijmohan Birla, Indian Institute of Marwari Entrepreneurship, Jaipur, 1993 p 78 ISBN 81-85878-00-5] . The inhabitants of Shekhawati are considered brave, sacrificing and hard working people. The region provides the highest number of persons to the Indian Army.

Etymology of Shekhawati

Shekhawati has been first time mentioned in the book 'Bankidas ki khyat'. [Mukutji: Jaipur rajya ka bhugol, page 46-47] Contemporary of Bankidas was Col. W.S.Gardener, who used the word Shekhawati in year 1803. Later Col James Tod wrote history of Shekhawati first time. Shekhawati word has been used in 'vamsh bhaskar' many times. This shows that Shekhawati word came in use about two and half centuries back. [Sahiram: Ek adhūrī krānti, Shekhawati kā kisān āndolan (1922-1952), page-1]

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. They decided to pay the man a visit. After they received the blessing of the Sheikh, a son was born to the couple. In honour of the mendicant, the couple named their son Shekha.Fact|date=February 2007

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 [Hakim Yusuf Jhunjhunuvi: Jhunjhunu ka Itihasa, Vol III page-10] [Mansukh Ranwa 'Manu', Amar Shaheed Lotu Jat, J C Ranwa Prakashan, Sikar, 2001 p-13] [Sahiram: Ek adhūrī krānti, Shekhawati kā kisān āndolan (1922-1952), page-1] It is not clear when these seas dried up and receded but the desert was created due to the receding of the sea.

About millions of years back this land was inundated with sea water. [Devi Singh Mandawa: Shardul Singh Shekhawat, page 17] [Rajputane ka uthala samudra, page-21] [FE Partiger: Ancient Indian historical tradition, page-260] As per Mr Gorki it needs no evidence as fossils found in the area confirms that this area was a sea at one time. [Parmeshwar Solanki: Rajasthan marupradesh ka iti vritatmak vivechan, page 16] 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. [G H Ojha: Rajputane ka Itihasa (Part I), page 83] [Sahiram: Ek adhūrī krānti, Shekhawati kā kisān āndolan (1922-1952), page-2]

Geography

Shekhawati in the desert area of Rajasthan has a 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 winters to more than 50 °C in summers. The summers bring hot waves of air called "loo". Annual rainfall is very low, of the scale of 450 to 600 mm. The ground water is as deep as 200 feet (60 m), and at 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.Busquet, Carisse and Gerard "Impressions of Rajasthan" 2003, Editions Flammarion, ISBN 2-08-011171-X] 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 an average the region faces every third year as a dry year and every eighth year as a famine year. The famine of 1899 is considered to be the most severe. During famine years it becomes very difficult for animals to survive and the cattle population goes down drastically.

Shekhawati is a home of colourful peacock, parrots, etc.

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. [Lakhan Gusain. Shekhawati. Munich: Lincom Europa (2001) (LW/M 385)] 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?

History

Ancient history

Many historians have considered this region included in the Matsya Kingdom. Rigveda also provides certain evidences in this matter. [Sukh Sampati Raj Bhandari: Bharat ke deshi rajya, Jaypur rajya ka Itihas, page 3] [G H Ojha: Rajputane ka Itihasa (Part I), page 83] Manusmriti has called this land as 'brahmrishi desha'. [Sahiram: Ek adhūrī krānti, Shekhawati kā kisān āndolan (1922-1952), page-3]

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. [Prithvi Singh Mehta: Hamara Rajasthan (1950), pages 30-31]

In ancient times Shekhawati was not limited to present two districts only but during the Mahabharata period it was known as Matsya Kingdom extending up to 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. [Satapatha Brahman 13/5/9] [Sahiram: Ek adhūrī krānti, Shekhawati kā kisān āndolan (1922-1952), page-2] 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. [Prithvi Singh Mehta: Hamara Rajasthan (1950), page 27]

The northern part of Rajasthan was known as Jangladesh (Bikaner and Nagaur) during Mahabharata period. [ Prithvi Singh Mehta: Hamara Rajasthan (1950), page 28] 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. [G H Ojha: Rajputane ka Itihasa (Part I), page 83] 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. [ G H Ojha: Rajputane ka Itihasa (Part I), page 86] [Sahiram: Ek adhūrī krānti, Shekhawati kā kisān āndolan (1922-1952), page-2]

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.

hekhawat Rule

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 known as 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.Fact|date=February 2008 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. Fact|date=February 2008

Many Thikanas had their own flags and emblems. Shekhawats ruled over highest no. of Thikanas in Jaipur Rajwara.. [ [http://www.uq.net.au/~zzhsoszy/ips/misc/shekhawat.html Shekhawat ] ]

In 19th century Sikar was the largest & wealthiest Thikana and the Khetri was the second wealthiest Thikana of Jaipur State. Fact|date=February 2008

Culture, heritage and tourism

Architecture

Shekhawats built many magnificent forts in their Thikanas. Every Thikana in Shekhawati is the site of the Fort and Shekhawati was richest and the most happening place, thus Shekhawati has more than 50 forts and Palaces built by Shekhawat Rajas. Many of them are hotels nowadays.
* 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 thick. Diwankhana, the formal drawing room is decorated with family portraits and an array of antique Armour.
* Dundlod Fort, The Fort of Dundlod 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 European style.
* Roop Niwas Kothi (Palace), 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 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 built in a traditional style, spreads over two acres 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

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, 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 during 18th century to early 20th century. During the British occupation, traders would adapted this style for their new buildings. [Henderson, Carol D, "Cultures and Customs of India"; Greenwood Press 1992, ISBN 0-313-30513-7, pg. 92] 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
** Shekhawati Horse Brigade, Nawalgarh
** Dundlod cavalry, Dundlod
*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
** Gangaur
** Dussehra
** Teej
** Holi, Shekhawati's holi is famous in Rajasthan.

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):
*Baggar
*Bissau, Rajasthan
*Chirawa
*Danta Ramgarh
*Dundlod
*Fatehpur
*Jhunjhunu
*Khandela
*Khatushyamji
*Khetri
*Laxmangarh
*Mahansar
*Mandawa
*Mukungarh
*Nawalgarh
*Neem ka thana
*Pilani
*Ramgarh
*Salasar Balaji
*Shri Madhopur
*Sikar
*Surajgarh
*Buhana

*Some famous villages
**In Jhunjhunu district- Gudhagorji, Jhajhar, Chirana, Khirod, Sultana, Jakhal, Gura, Paunkh, Keharpura Kalan Alsisar, Malsisar,Taen, Parasrampura etc
**In Sikar district- Khandela, Birodi, Divrala, Mehroli, Khoor, Bhagatpura etc.
**In Churu district- Sandwa, Salasar, Kanuta,

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. [K.L. Sharma: Caste, Feudalism and Peasantry: The Social Formation of Shekhawati, Vedams eBooks (P) Ltd. New Delhi, 1998]

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. [K.L. Sharma: Caste, Feudalism and Peasantry: The Social Formation of Shekhawati, Vedams eBooks (P) Ltd. New Delhi, 1998]

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.Fact|date=February 2007 The Shekhawati region has the highest literacy in the state. Dr RP Arya, Jitendra Arya, Dr Gayatri Arya, Anshuman Arya, Rajasthan Road Atlas, Indian Map Service, Jodhpur 2005 ]

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. [ [http://www.princelystates.com/Rajputana/rc-02-02x.shtml Princely States Report] ] 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.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]

References

33.Anil Jakhar Jatland.com

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

* [http://www.ethnologue.com/show_family.asp?subid=90927 Language Family Trees]
* [http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=rwr Marwari language]
* [http://www.bharatonline.com/rajasthan/cities/shekhawati/index.html Shekhawati
* [http://www.pbase.com/madhavrt/shekhavati_rajasthanl Shekhawati photo gallary by January 2008 visitor. About 60 photos of city and palace interiors.

Information]
* [http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=swv Shekhawati language]
* [http://www.jatland.com/home/Rajasthani_Language Online Rajasthani-English Dictionary]


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