Ilay Cooper’s book on Shekhawati set me off on an extraordinary trip to that extraordinary place in January this year. I had to wait for nearly 6 months, though, before I felt ready to write about it — so overwhelming were my thoughts and emotions. This post on Mahensar is the last of 8 posts in the series on “The Painted Towns of Shekhawati”. If you haven’t read the introduction to Shekhawati’s history (and the series), I recommend that you do so now, before proceeding further. If you have already done so, then dive straight into the post.
Mahensar is well-known for two things — the paintings inside a place called Sone Chandi ki Dukaan (or the Gold and Silver Shop) and a liquour made from saunf or aniseed. I knew about the first, having read about it in Ilay Cooper’s book, but was completely ignorant about the second, till the manager of the hotel I was staying in told me about it.
According to him, no Rajput wedding in the Shekhawati region was complete without this particular liquor being served to the wedding guests. Why, it was popular across Haryana, Punjab and Delhi and was also more famous than the frescoes of the region and with heritage value as well !
So when I arrived in Mahensar from Bissau at around 2 on that January afternoon, I was expecting to see more of the famous liquor around instead of the frescoes. And I probably would have, if had not been a local election day at Mahensar and, therefore, a dry day. There weren’t too many people around and the few frescoes visible were faded and located high up on the haveli walls.
I thought of heading towards the Mahensar Fort, but my bad luck with Forts in Shekhawati continued — the Fort was now a hotel and out of bounds for the casual visitor. As I was looking around for a possible direction to head towards, a man came up to me with a large bunch of keys and said, “You must have come to see the Sone Chandi ki Dukaan. I’m the caretaker of that place. Come, I will open it up for you.” Continue reading “The painted towns of Shekhawati-7: Mahensar”