- Cycling into rarely visited northern Rajasthan's tiny desert towns author discovers impressive buildings, their walls covered with vibrant paintings. Fascinated, he settles nearby and, exploring, finds that the main painted towns lie in the defunct administrative district of Shekhawati. Research reveals the unpublished writings and drawings of Col Lockett and Lt Boileau, who crossed Shekhawati in 1831. Both men are depicted in contemporary murals. Their mission was to enquire into, and record the brigandry then affecting local trade. This led to the founding of a Shekhawati Brigade to suppress robbery and bring security to the local merchants. Peace and prosperity returned, creating ideal conditions for a display of conspicuous wealth. The merchants commissioned fine buildings and, as a final touch, their walls were painted. So a military mission led to an artistic one!
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