Mandawa in Rajasthan: Culturally Rich Town Turns Hotspot for Bollywood

Bollywood in Mandawa in RajasthanOnce, home to the rich merchant families, the city of Mandawa (founded in the mid 18th century) was full of palatial havelis, adorned with beautiful wall paintings, and was the abode of the rich. Centuries later, the merchants migrated to other regions, but the magnificence of those beautiful havelis still make this place a major tourist (as well as filming) attraction.

Mandawa is the most happening village in the entire Shekhawati region. A trip to the Shekhawati region without seeing Mandawa would be considered incomplete. The Shekhawati region has several luxury hotels and forts/castles that have been converted in to hotels. Even the Mandawa castle has been converted in to a tourist hotel and is currently among the top palace hotels in India.

Bollywood Films Shot in Mandawa

For those who’re not aware, this culturally rich town of Rajasthan was also used for the filming of Salman Khan’s Bajrangi Bhaijaan. The rustic ambiance, surroundings, traditional havelis and intriguing maze-like bylanes were used to make Mandawa ‘look like Pakistan in the movie.

Bollywood in Mandawa in Rajasthan

For ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’, one of the village’s havelis became a Pakistani jail where Salman was lodged, an open field with long grasses turned into the Indo-Pak border area. Sand dunes also added to the film’s visual background.

Mandawa is however not a newfound shooting destination for Bollywood filmmakers. The town has featured in many more Bollywood films.

The catchy/rustic song “Tharki chokro” from the movie “PK”, the journey song “Hum jo chalne lage hai” from Shahid/Kareena “Jab We Met” were filmed in this little town, which is part of the Shekhawati region.

In fact, many more Bollywood films have been shot in Mandawa.

Why do Filmmakers Prefer to Shoot in Mandawa

Says one scouting agent who helps filmmakers scout locations and arrange shootings in Mandawa, “Mandawa is becoming popular among directors for its natural locale, cheap production cost, no star-struck crowd, calm life with people emphasizing on their day-to-day work rather than crowding around vanity vans.”

Says Salman, “The town’s beauty lies in natural elements like golden yellow mustard fields, long winding roads, and gentle wind whistling in the ears.”

However, what filmmakers like is that most locals seemed ignorant of the stardom of Bollywood stars. A ‘chaiwala’ (tea-seller) once failed to recognize Aamir Khan and his wife Kiran Rao and treated them as any other tourist in Mandawa. However, he soon recognized the PK star and even took a selfie with Aamir, which can be found hanging at his shop.

With filmmakers increasingly looking towards the small town of Mandawa, it’s also turning out to be profitable for villagers as more employment is being generated. Many more hotels have also cropped up in recent times, in the region.

The owners of havelis and other palatial properties are more than happy to give out their properties for shooting, but only on one condition: that no damage be caused to it.

Because, the place can get really hot in summer, most shootings happen in the month of February and early March, when the weather is pleasant.

More About Mandawa

Mandawa is dotted with colorful havelis, forts, and museums. Every street and house is painted with colorful frescoes (fresco is a mural painting done on lime plaster). Right from the fort to the wells and walls of the village are artifacts in themselves. Centuries back, the frescoes would display local legends, animals, portraits, hunting and wrestling scenes, etc. 19th century saw the themes being changed to reflect the British (Raj) influence on the Indian culture.

Manadawa is Popular for: Shekhawati silk route, art and painting, wooden – chests, chairs, cradles, low tables, stools

Major Attractions/ Popular Places to Visit in Mandawa

There are a number of fascinating Havelis (Palatial houses) in Mandawa, all adorned with beautiful wall paintings. Here are some of the popular attractions and havelis in Mandawa:

  • Mandawa fort/castle (lots of mirror work in the walls and the ceiling)
  • Hanuman Prasad Goenka Haveli: This haveli has a painting depicting Indra Dev on an elephant and Lord Shiva on his vehicle, Nandi bull.
  • Goenka Double Haveli: This haveli has its portico adorned with elephants and horses.
  • Murmuria Haveli: The paintings of the haveli include a train with a crowded level crossing, with crow flying above it. Another impressive picture is that of Nehru on a horseback, holding the national flag.
  • Jhunjhunwala Haveli: The haveli is decorated with striking gold leaf painted room.
  • Mohan Lal Saraf Haveli: The picture of a Maharaja stroking his moustaches beautifies this haveli.
  • Other havelis of Mandawa include the Binsidhar Newatia Haveli, Lakshminarayan Ladia Haveli, Gulab Rai Ladia Haveli and Chokhani Double Haveli, etc.

    How to Reach Mandawa

    Most tour operators, based in Delhi and Jaipur, cater to Mandawa. Mandawa is well connected by Road. Jhunjhunu is the nearest railway station. The nearest airport is Jaipur and Delhi.