Ilay Cooper’s book on Shekhawati set me off on an extraordinary trip to an 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 Laxmangarh is the fifth 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. :)
When I arrived at Laxmangarh on that bitterly cold January morning, it had just stopped raining and the sun was playing hide-and-seek with the clouds. Thankful that the rains would not play spoilsport, I headed straight for the Fort, which is built on a hillock overlooking the town.
Laxmangarh Fort dates back to the early 1800s when the town was founded by Laxman Singh, the Raja of Sikar, to take advantage of the rise in caravan trade at that time. He built the Fort and a walled fortification with nine gates to protect the town. Today, only the Fort remains.
To my surprise, I found that the Fort was now private property having been bought by a trader in Delhi, who had, in turn, leased it to a telecommunications company to construct cell towers. There is a temple inside the Fort and visitors are allowed only till that point in the Fort. I tried to look inside the door leading up to the top of the Fort and almost got told off by the priest of the temple for daring to do so !
Disappointed with not being able to see a Fort the second time around in Shekhawati, I set off to explore the town instead.