Shekhawati is a semi desert region in north Rajasthan and is situated entirely within the triangle formed by Delhi-Bikaner-Jaipur. Shekhawati represents a region and not just a town or fort. It derived its name from its ruler Rao Shekha. Shekhawati means the garden of Shekha.
The towns of Shekhawati region are known for their amazing painted havelis. So varied and architecturally rich are these havelis that this region is dubbed as the "open art gallery of Rajasthan". The plethora of painted Havelis in a rich artistic tradition makes them fascinating. Most of the buildings are dated from 18th century to early 20th century. Various forms of fine art adorn the walls and the ceilings of these structures as a contrast to the otherwise flat and barren landscape. These havelis are noted for their frescoes depicting mythological themes and huge animals. Some later day frescoes reflect British influences in the form of steam locomotives and trains depicted on them.
There also are forts, minor castles, mosques, step-wells (called ‘baoris’) and chattris. The Rajputs mostly depicted the themes of historical events, personage, folk-heroes and prominent war scenes, while the Marwaris concentrated more on religious themes.
However, with the passage of time and advent of the British their motifs too began to change. As the authority of the Mughal empire weakened following the death of Emperor Aurangzeb in 1707 AD, the descendants of Rao Shekha grabbed the territory west of Aravali Range. The chieftains of the region still acknowledge the suzerainty of Amber ruler who conferred the title of Tazmi Sardar on them. It was probably their exposure to the royal court in Jaipur that piqued their interest in the art of frescoes.