I am usually inspired to read about a place after a visit there; I may even pick up something to read once I have decided to visit a place. As for packing my bags and heading to a destination after reading about it. Never, though I have added a destination to a mental list of places to visit.
Did I say never? Actually, that has now changed to ‘just once’ when I visited the Shekhawati region in Rajasthan after reading a book about its painted havelis or mansions in January this year. The Painted Towns of Shekhawati by Ilay Cooper was a serendipitous find, and I want to first how I found the book with you before telling you what the book is all about.
It was a rainy August day in 2014 and I was feeling quite sorry for myself that day. All my travel plans were falling through for some reason or the other, which meant that I hadn’t travelled anywhere that year.
A casual conversation with a friend on the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) hand got me thinking about visiting the JLF in 2015 and maybe combine it with some travel to places around Jaipur.
A simple Google search threw up Shekhawati as a possible place to visit. A little deeper search and The Painted Towns of Shekhawati popped up. Though I was aware of the painted havelis in Shekhawati, I was more than a little sketchy on the details. The book intrigued me enough to place an order almost immediately and the book was in my hands a few days later.
The first thing I did after reading the book was to apply for leave at work, write out a tentative itinerary, and book the hotel and flight tickets (not necessarily in this order). Yes, I had decided to go to Shekhawati. So what was in the book that got me all set to travel to Shekhawati?