Jhunjhunu has a very musical sound to it. It always brought the visual of a Jhunjhuna – a tinkling toy used to attract and distract infants. Then there are people who use Jhunjhunwala as their surname, proudly displaying their ancestry from this small town in Rajasthan. I put it on my travel wish list when I was reading about the Shekhawati region in North Rajasthan.
Jhunjhunu is a town as well as a district. In ancient Indian literature, this place features as part of the Matsya Kingdom in Mahabharata. It is believed to be the place where Pandavas hid their weapons before taking different roles in the court of King Virata.
In recent history, it was ruled by Chauhans, Islamic rulers, and then finally by Shardul Singh – a descendent of the Rao Shekha, on whose name the region is known as Shekhawati.
Painted Havelis of Jhunjhunu
Like all towns in Shekhawati, Jhunjhunu too has its share of painted Havelis to boast of. Some of the Havelis that I visited and recommend are:
This Haveli is located in the main bazaar of the town. In fact, the bazaar is located at the base of this Haveli. I was pleasantly surprised to pass through the Jhunjhunu library and a few book stores in the market. I entered the Haveli through a flight of steps on the side.
Once I entered through the ornate wooden gate with Ganesha on top in saffron color, it was a typical Shekhawati Haveli. By this time, I had seen many such Havelis and I could make my way through it without any help if need be. Baithak of this Haveli is still in use and paintings well maintained.
Sri Jhabarmal Tibrewal Haveli is a relatively new Haveli at least in its looks. What is different from most Havelis I saw in Shekhawati is that its paintings are very different, a bit modern if I can say with colors that are more global than Indian. They are not as intricate or thematic as they are in most other Havelis. However, inside the chowk, it was a typical Shekhawati Haveli.
Tibrewal is a major business family from the town. The caretaker told me that they still visit the city at least once a year. They visit every Navratri it seems.
Other Places to See in Jhunjhunu
Walking in and around the Seth Manna Lal Khaitan Marg, I discovered some little-known places in the town. Some of them are:
Satyanarayan Temple – Located on the first floor, this looks like a lovely Haveli.
Painted Havelis – Many painted Havelis can be seen here, though I could not capture all their names.
Mira Ambika Bhavan or Khetan Bhavan – An 1887 CE Haveli that was donated to Sri Aurbindo Divine Life Trust in 1987 CE. You can visit this house with lovely gardens and a hostel-like layout inside. A well worshipped Ganesha Murti stood at one end. Around lunchtime, I could not find anyone who can talk about this place.
Mansa Devi Mandir – Located on a rocky hillock this is a small temple in white dedicated to Mansa Devi.
Bandhe Ke Balaji Temple – A temple dedicated to Hanuman.
Mertani Ji Ki Baori or stepwell – Named after Mertani, the wife of Shardul Singh, this is a massive and impressive Baori. However, due to a lack of maintenance, it is difficult to see it from close quarters. Long and narrow stepwell has multiple levels potentially culminating in a well at the end like Rani Ki Vav in Patan. I hope local authorities see it as an environmental heritage & give it the attention it deserves.
Chirawa Pedha – You get typical North India or Rajasthani food in the town. As a vegetarian, it was a delight to get an elaborate vegetarian thali in Rajasthan. Chirawa nearby the town is famous for its Pedhas that come in a peculiar shape here – pinched in the middle and pressed with a thumb on the sides. It is a delicacy to bring back with you from Chirawa or Jhunjhunu.
Read More – Making of Mathura Pedha
Sati Temples of Jhunjhunu
The most popular temple in the town is that of Rani Sati. Now, I knew there are Sati temples in Rajasthan but I had never visited one. So, in the town, I was keen to visit this very popular temple. Sati in popular parlance is the woman who decides to immolate herself on the pyre of her husband. Those who understand this would tell you, not all women could do Sati. Only those who had the power to do so, and wanted to do so could do it. Historically, it is known that Sati was done by women to escape from the invading armies as they did in Chittorgarh.
After visiting a few Sati temples in the town, I read their stories. All these temples were dedicated to historical women who lived a few centuries ago and had performed some acts of courage. Most of them had fought physically, protecting their families, performing way beyond what would be expected of women. My belief is that it is for their bravery that they are deities for their descendants. What is interesting is they are all called by their names, not their husbands names, not family names, but their own names along with affectionate ‘Dadi’.
I reached Bagad, the place where I was staying in Shekhawati around the afternoon. So, in the evening I decided to visit the Rani Sati Temple.
Rani Sati Temple in Jhunjhunu
I had seen the images of Rani Sati Temple in the town. Almost all of them show the façade on the pistachio green color. The size can be deceptive in images you see on your small mobile screen. When I stood in front of that very façade with a huge parking area in front, I was overwhelmed by its size. It is a huge temple façade.
From the outside, you see only the façade & inside no photography of any kind is allowed. I walked in, crossed the lovely Braj Dwar, and saw one of the cleanest, most well maintained, and Bhavya or grand temple in North India.
The main temple is in white marble. It is difficult to guess the age of the temples that are perpetually well maintained. Honestly, to the devotees, it is irrelevant, who only wants the best for their deities. A row of smaller temples leads to the main temple. These are 13 temples dedicated to different Satis from the same lineage. A board clearly mentions that the temple does not propagate the tradition of Sati.
Community Sati Temple
While talking to the priest, for the first time I learned that the Sati temples belong to a Gotra or a community. This one belongs to the Bansal Gotra of the Agrawal community. She is their Dadi Sati or the ancestral grandmother. She came from the Goyal family and was married into a Bansal family. Being a Goyal Agrawal myself, I was dumbfounded at discovering something that I should have known, but I never knew.
I sat there looking at the face created around a Trishul or a trident. The Sati temples rarely have a Murti or a depiction of the Sati. They worship her as Shakti depicted by Trishul. Devotees sit in front of the Devi and make a Swastika sign with Henna powder, Haldi and Kumkum while making a wish. I also sat there and made my swastika, hoping to get some divine energy from the Devi.
Dadi Sati in this temple is believed to be an incarnation of Narayani, or Uttara – the wife of Abhimanyu in the Dwapar Yuga. In this Yuga, she was married to Tandan who had an enviable horse that the king of Hissar wanted. In a fight for the horse, he kills Tandan. Narayani fights & kills the king and his son and then decides to be a Sati, as she had wished in her past life.
I walked around the temple as the sun was setting. There are smaller temples within the temple complex. There is a platform with different forms of Matrikas depicted where evening Puja is conducted with Shakti mantras.
An annual fair happens on Bhadon Amavasya or the no moon day of the month of Bhadon. I am told it attracts lakhs of devotees from the region. People of Jhunujhunu spread across the world come back for this fair. Read more on the temple website.
Khemi Sati Temple
Overwhelmed with the visit to Rani Sati Temple, I sat in the car to head back to the Hotel. I suddenly saw another big temple on the way. My driver said this is Khemi Sati Temple. It was dark, but I decided to visit the temple, or you could say the temple called me.
It was an equally huge temple built in a typical North Indian style of temple architecture. I walked in and walked towards the sanctum. I found myself surrounded by the Murtis of different Swaroops of Devi in the niches of the walls leading to the sanctum. In front of the main temple, two priests were doing the Arti. I sat there looking at the Trishul decorated to look like a face.
After the Arti priests told me that this Dadi Sati temple belongs to the people of Goyal Gotra. Now I knew why I felt that strong pull from this temple. I had a brief conversation with the priests who then told me about the Ved Pathshala that they run. They took me to the school where I heard young students chant Purush Sukta – a hymn from Rig Veda. I heard about the social projects of the temple and the expansion plans of the temple.
I stepped out like I am stepping out of an ancestral home.
Chavo Veero Dadi Temple, Bagad
Very close to Piramal Haveli, where I was staying was another Sati Temple – Chavo Veero Dadi Temple. Here Chavo is the Dadi or grandmother who is worshipped. Veero was her brother who also died with her in a fight. This was under massive reconstruction when I visited. Read More on the temple website.
- The town is reachable both from Jaipur and Delhi.
- You need a day to cover all the things I have mentioned above.
- You can also do the rest of the Shekhawati region from here, though Mandawa and Nawalgarh are more popular places to stay.