These were the colors of Shekhawati 19 years ago. In these years I re-visited many more Thikhanas and found things have changed and worsening too. Colors have slowly faded, more commercial attitude floating in the air and minds of the locals, link roads still bumby, open and spacious lands in front of a cluster of havelis gone and taken by ugly structures, peaceful ambiance crushed by vehicles cpewing black fumes from exhaust pipes, filth and worn out structures tell a sordid tale of neglect. Once Shekhawati was proud of its painted havelis and open spaces with street full of fine and clean sand. Now..........not grandeur but filth and crowd have taken over. Shekhawati can retain its magnificence only if a grand plan is prepared and implemented within five years. Ramgarh, Fatehpur, Mandawa, Udaipurwati,Mukundgarh, Dundlod, Navalgarh and many more such as Sujangarh and Ratangarh have suffered damage. Indian just don't know how to preserve its heritage. Every visitor can feel excited about the history of Shekhawati and the ambiance of the streets dotted by hundreds of painted havelis. I am amazed at the speed with which Shekhawati has taken to urban culture.
Rajasthan has plans but they focus on bringing more tourists and not for preserving the heritage in original form. We need to act fast, and..........NOW. It is also time we shed steriotyped plans on tourism and instead make good linkages with heritage conservation bodies for which we need to rope in expertise of the Archaeological Survey of India. We also need to built in-house expertise instead of looking at the West.