Why walk past frescoes when you can sleep under them? Why stop at one mural when you have a mansion full of them to marvel at? Why just meet royalty when you can eat with them? Why wonder where in Rajasthan when you can Breakaway, instead?
Forget the Mona Lisa, the Met, the MOMA. The world’s most stunning open-air art gallery awaits you in northern Rajasthan. Come and Breakaway – Journeys off the Map
You may have admired the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, meandered around the Met, and been tantalised by the Tate Modern. But nothing will leave you gaping, open-mouthed, like the outdoor art gallery that is Shekhawati. Tucked away in northern Rajasthan, this was once the cradle in which India’s richest families prospered. They built the grandest havelis and decorated them with frescoes of jaw-dropping ideas and detail. The winds of fortune dispersed the Marwari diaspora across India, but their marvels remain mouldering away in Shekhawati, awaiting your discovery.
The raison d’être of this Breakaway is introducing you to some of Rajasthan’s finest painted traditions. And there’s no better place to start than the myriad havelis that dot this district. The families that built these havelis got some of India’s and Europe’s finest artistes to bring alive their walls. Here’s just a brief glimpse of what you’re going to gape at –murals of a locomotive, painted to bring alive a rail journey to people who couldn’t experience one themselves; innovative retellings of India’s most famous fables and epics; Europeans taking off in hot air balloons; a rare interpretation of the Hindu Trinity as Goddesses; various scenes and poses from the Kamasutra and visits to the best restored havelis in the region. Together, we will slip into the bylanes of Mandawa to meet artisans who bring alive traditional miniatures, letting you take home masterpieces straight from the masters who paint them.
Along with frescoes, we’ve unearthed other cultural experiences unique to this region. Like Shekhawati’s proud equestrian heritage. The Marwar horse is a doughty character and is famed for being able to ferry its rider across long distances. We’ll take you to a famous stable and you can even go for a ride, if your enthusiasm and your behind are up for it. Another marvel awaits your obeisance at the edge of the desert – a temple of many first! Like what? For starters, Lord Shiva dressed as a silk-robed gent accompanied by the Goddess Ganga and her crocodilian mount! There’s a shrine of Lord Ram which also has statues of Bharat and Shatrughan, his less invoked siblings. And perhaps most unique is the shrine to Lord Hanuman, the bachelor god, with Marakdhwaj, his son!
Of course, it won’t be a Breakaway if we didn’t house you in memorable properties. So you have a haveli with stunning detailed frescoes, a Colonial riding club with gorgeous period furnishings and fittings, and a hauntingly beautiful castle on the edge of the desert. All meals are traditional, which means they will be as detailed as they will be delicious. And at the castle, the resident Prince will indulge you with samples of the liqueurs he makes with local ingredients like mint, aniseed, ginger, and cardamom, to name a few.
Some of India’s most unique traditional art experiences are waiting to speak to you, straight from the art. All you need to do is Breakaway for Journeys off the Map