Shekhawati Intach Chapter - Conservation and preservation of Shekhawati’s cultural and built heritage

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A heritage in Jeopardy

In Shekhawati, an extraordinary number of wonderful wall paintings adorn the buildings constructed by the merchants during the 19th century. Mansions, temples, wells, cenotaphs ..., all are entirely covered with frescoes. 

The descendants of these rich merchants have permanently settled down in the towns where their ancestors immigrated. The properties of their forefathers in Shekhawati still belong to them, but are neither well maintained nor protected and restored. As a result : 

 The murals are covered with graffiti, posters and sometimes simply whitewashed or painted over. 

Although running water is now available, there has been no proper drainage and water stagnating in the streets seeps down to the foundations of the buildings. Large parts of painted plaster fall down. Some of the buildings might collapse at any moment. 

 The walls of havelis, urban mansions, are haphazardly ripped open to set up shops, stalls, workshops, destroying the paintings.

 Finely carved woodwork from havelis — doors, windows, lintel — are more and more to be found in antiques dealers shops. 

 Some havelis are being purposely demolished. Each and every parts are sold and new commercial centers are set up on the site.

If nothing is undertaken in a very near future, the wall paintings and buildings of Shekhawati are doomed to disappear and with it, part of local heritage.