Indra Vilas rated "EXCELLENT" by travellers
History
The arid sand of Rajasthan's Thar desert had to be traversed by numerous caravans plying their trade between Punjab and the ports of Gujarat as also between Central Asia and the rest of India. The routes passed through Bikaner and Jaipur. In the 18th century the Mughal Empire declined. The area of Shekhawati was taken over by Sardul Singh and Shiv Singh, the descendants of the 15th century warrior Rao Shekhaji. They ousted the Mughal nawabs of Fatehpur and Jhunjhunu. At this time the Rajput kingdoms of Bikaner and Jaipur increased their tax on transit trade. The wedge of Shekhawati thus became more lucrative for the caravans, particularly because the rulers brought banditry too under control while taxation was lower.

As the trade shifted the economy advanced and Marwaris-one of the finest business communities arrived and made Shekhawati their home. The initial paintings were only on doorways and arches. These were commissioned by the ruling elite and showed the influence of the court of Jaipur. Later the Marwaris commissioned artists for decorating their houses. The painting activity continued even as the empire changed hands from the Mughals to the British. They established ports at Bombay and Calcutta. This eclipsed the traditional Gujarat ports. The taxation too became uniform and the trade started passing through Bikaner and Jaipur. With the coming up of international borders to the Northwest, the trade routes through the desert were practically deserted. However the more stable central governance provided the Marwaris to establish their businesses even more firmly in the new ports. They continued pumping funds into their hometowns, building temples, wells, schools and magnificent havelis (mansions) for the folks who stayed home. The art flourished.

However, with passing generations there was no one left to look after the colorful treasures. Fresh activity ceased. The paintings and the walls they adorned would survive as long as the Marwaris maintain their patronage of their ancestral villages.

The twin villages of Alsisar and Malsisar are named after two sisters, Alsi and Malsi, daughters of a farmer who first settled here. Samrath Singh, the second of the five sons of Sardul Singh settled at Alsisar in 1783. The fort he established stands derelict on a promontory. The village street is an unending row of deserted mansions richly decorated with paintings which are well preserved. The Haveli of Indrachand Kejriwal is the largest of all. Three large ornate wells for drawing water stand on three sides just across the mansions boundary. Three hundred meters from the Haveli, stand two of the finest temples of the region, themselves covered with exquisite art, well preserved.
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