Fresco of India are one of a kind and the process of making one is equally unique. The painting is created on freshly plastered walls, allowing the painting to sink into the plastered surface and become one with the wall. Many artists have called them ‘traditional wallpapers’.
Being one of the oldest art techniques, a fresco tour to India would be rich in history and local culture. Perhaps the most ancient Indian fresco paintings are found in the Ajanta and Ellora caves. These, which showcase the instances from Buddha’s life, date back to 200 to 600 B.C. The fresco paintings at the Badami Cave Temples, Bagh Cave and Shekhawati Havelis in Rajasthan are one of the oldest.
While some Frescos were recreationally made and were basic in their technique, others were politically influenced and filled with intent. An example of the latter is this Fresco from 1732 which was drawn in revelry when the Shekhawati Rajputs were defeating and forcing the Mughals out.
Let’s map out a Fresco tour in India:
1. Hawa Mahal Road, Jaipur
On the way to one of the premium tourist destinations of Rajasthan, the Hawa Mahal of Jaipur, one comes across this building. The building stands tall with Frescoed windows. Though now an old structure, because of the nature of Fresco paintings, the windows look bright and colourful as ever.
2. Karauli City Palace, Rajasthan
The city of Karauli in the state of Rajasthan is home to the Karauli City Palace. The Palace, originally built in the 14th century, is now restored to reimpose the colour and beauty of it’s murals, lattice work and stone carvings. In 1348, Yaduvanshi Arjun Pal laid the foundation of the palace. The Yaduvanshi’s trace their lineage all the way back to Lord Krishna. 160 kilometers from the major cities of Jaipur and Agra, the Palace sits regally in a small town, giving your experience a taste of royalty and warmth at the same time! To indulge in this experience, many tourists opt for a camel cart ride to the Palace, which is otherwise easily accessible too.
3. Nawalgarh, Shekhawati region
This is a Shekhawati Fresco. A unique feature of the Shekhawati Frescoes is that they were all made from natural colours. For black they used kajal, for white they used chalk limestone, for orange they used saffron, for red they used red stone powder, and so forth. Before visiting, it’s imperative to note that Shekhawati is not a demarcated city, it is a region. Nawalgarh is a small town in the Shekhawati region and is locally known as the “land of Havelis”. Forts adorn the entire town, making it seem like one is walking in a vast art exhibition
4. Mandawa, Shekhawati Region
Also in the Shekhawati region, is Mandawa. This town carries frescoes which display the transition in the nature of the paintings. All through the town, one sees intricately abstract, religious, colonial and nationalistic frescoes. Since the State Government has been taking initiative in restoring the art of the region, these frescos are lively and are sure to leave you in high spirits!
5. Alsisar Haveli, Jaipur
The Alsisar Haveli in Jaipur, now a heritage hotel, in true Rajasthani fashion is adorned by several frescoes. The Haveli dates back to the 18th century and is located in the heart of the arid semi-desert town of Alsisar. The Haveli is extremely tourist friendly and is sure to make you feel like a royal yourself.
6. Samode Palace, Chomu
The Samode Palace in this Rajasthani town also proudly displays its frescoes of abstract and intricate patterns. The 475 years old Palace now doubles as a hotel, making it the perfect spot on your Fresco Tour!
7. City Palace, Jaipur
The Diwan-e-Khas Hall of the City Palace in Jaipur is truly a spot to behold. If the picture does not convince you, the genuine marble flooring at your feet and marvelous chandeliers and frescoes over your head make the Palace a must visit spot on every trip to India.
8. Pal Haveli, Jodhpur
Another hotel on the spot to make your travel plans easy is the Pal Haveli of the blue city of Jodhpur. Still occupied by the royal family, each room is ornate and home to unique frescoes, plus you can see the Mehrangarh Fort from the Haveli!
9. Brihadeeswarar Temple, Tamil Nadu
Moving out of Rajasthan, the Brihadeeswarar Temple of Tamil Nadu holds some of the first Chola fresco paintings. Located in Thanjavur, the Temple worships a dancing Lord Shiva, called Nataraj. Being on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list, the Brihadeeswarar Temple is tourist friendly and easy to find. Depicting the prowess of South Indian kings, the Temple is the first all-granite temple in the world. It has been so calculatively built that it never casts a shadow.
10. Thanjavur Maratha Palace, Tamil Nadu
If you have put Tamil Nadu on your list for a Fresco Tour to India, be sure to also visit the Thanjavur Maratha Palace! It was built in the 1530s but even today it is the official residence of the Bhonsle family who ruled Tanjore. Still housing the rulers, it is home to diverse ancient treasures and sculptures. Furthermore, it is one of the few Maratha places in South India and holds one of the oldest libraries in all of Asia. The original main court of the builders – the Nayaks – is now a vibrant art gallery which gives you more than frescoes to admire. Decked with deities and art, it also proudly displays heritage artifacts.
Contemporary Indian Fresco Artists to Look For:
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