Sauvons les fresques en péril du Rajasthan

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6,254€ Pledged out of 5,000€
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89 Donations from 8 countries

Painted towns of Shekhawati

Shekhawati is a little-known region in the north-east of Rajasthan, India. Its towns and villages contain a unique heritage of murals dating back to the heyday of the caravan trade, in the 18thand 19thcenturiesThese masterpieces are now gravely threatened. More than a hundred painted monuments are destroyed every year.


Who are we?

The Shekhawati Project is a Franco-Indian organisation created in 2016 in Fatehpur on the initiative of Cécile Charpentier, a conservator/restorer of paintings, bringing together a group of experts in the conservation/restoration of historic monuments and lovers of Indian art. We wish to contribute to saving the unique architectural and pictorial heritage of Shekhawati by: 

Restoring historic frescoes and murals,

Transmitting both traditional know-how and modern restoration techniques through training workshops and the further training of graduates in architecture and heritage conservation from international universities, 

Offering career opportunities, in particular to young women,  

Conducting scientific research with the support of graduate and postgraduate students in history and archaeology, as well as architecture and town planning,  

Raising awareness as to the conservation of the Shekhawati heritage and culture by organising events: lectures, exhibitions, concerts, scientific publications, documentary films, exchanges between universitaires... 

Our aims 

The Shekhawati Project has launched training workshops with a view to giving new life to this cultural environment, by durably restoring the frescoes and murals of the monuments and traditional buildings of this region.

Not only do we wish to avert further loss of architectural heritage, but we aim to preserve for future generations the collective memory represented in the magnificent and flamboyant murals covering the entire surface of these monuments

Thus, together with Indian academics, architects and city planners, we have dedicated ourselves to the conservation of Shekhawati heritage and its listing as UNESCO World Heritage. 

The Shekhawati Project organises each year training workshops in order to breathe  new life into this cultural ecosystem by carrying out durable restoration of the frescoes and paintings on the monuments and buildings of the region. In so doing, our organization wishes to highlight the know-how of young Indian women by inviting them to take part in the workshops. Architecture students from Mody Women's University (Science and Technology) are already participating in our workshops...

Help us finance a fresco restoration training workshop!

Our next training workshop will aim at defining the appropriate protocols for fresco restoration, combining modern and traditional procedures. It will take place in a grand mansion, Le Prince Haveli in Fatehpur, where professors and students will be given accommodation.

Under the supervision of renowned specialists in conservation and restoration, our workshops train MA students in architecture and heritage conservation from Indian and European universities. Together with ancestral know-how, they promote ethical scientific restoration reconciling stability and durability. 

What are we going to do with the money collected? 

The cost of this training workshop is estimated at € 50,000

/ First stage: € 5,000

  1. This includes the technical cost of the workshop
  2. - Tools and materials of restoration/conservation work (pigments, binder, solvents, plaster, mortar, lime, marble powder)

/ Second stage: € 10,000

  1. This concerns the safety and comfort of the teams
  2. - equipment like scaffolding, and safety appliances,
  3. -The meals and snacks of the participants

/ Third stage: € 20,000

  1. This includes the organizational expenses and labour:
  2. - The salaries of Indian artisans,
  3. - The travelling expenses and accommodation of the international team of voluntary professors and students.  

/ Fourth stage: € 30,000

  1. This covers the remuneration of other participants:
  2. - Young graduate restorers from Indian and foreign universities, 
  3. - Restoration experts supervising the workshop,
  4. - Organizers and project managers.

/ Fifth stage: € 40,000 

  1. This includes the cost of raising awareness of the public and institutions both in India and abroad:
  2. - By taking part in symposia, 
  3. - By organizing lectures,
  4. - By launching campaigns to fund scientific protocols.

/ Sixth stage: € 50,000 and more

  1. This aims at consolidating the project:
  2. - By creating a salaried position for secretarial and communication tasks,
  3. - By forming a larger restoration team in order to restore a greater number of murals and train more students.                        

We are supported by the volunteers and interns of the following: 

How can you help the project?

Vous pouvez soutenir ce projet :


Dear contributors to the revival of the painted buildings of Shekhawati, thank you for your contribution to the 2019 training workshop in Fatehpur!

To contact us: 

website / linkedIn / facebook / instagram

[email protected]

For more information, read below the history context and stages of restoration...

History of the painted towns of Shekhawati 

Shekhawati played a major role in the history and economic development of the Indian sub-continent. With the advent of the British East India Company and the development of commerce, Shekhawati became a favoured crossing point of the caravan trade in the 18thcentury. The talented Marwari merchants from Shekhawati made considerable fortunes and opened outlets in Bombay, Calcutta, Delhi or Madras.

Thanks to this prosperity, they had these magnificent houses built in their native region and had them lavishly painted and decorated. Between 1840 and 1930, some 2,000 painted monuments were built, not only havelis(mansions), but also temples and chhatris(cenotaphs) and decorated by craftsmen and artists coming from the whole subcontinent. 

After Independence (1947), many families left the region to live in the main metropolises of India. Many mansions were then abandoned or destroyed to be replaced by ugly modern buildings. Nearly a third of the original painted houses have disappeared, another third are threatened. And yet, havelis are remarkably designed to face the extreme weather conditions in the region and their harmonious proportions make them extremely pleasant to live in.

The murals of Shekhawati: endangered masterpieces 

The sumptuous paintings adorning the walls of the traditional buildings recount the daily life, history and religion of the time.

The walls and pillars of Shekhawati mansions are covered with a particular stucco, arayish, which gives them the silky sheen of marble

But the most striking features are the murals that adorn the walls both inside and out. Whether they be real frescoes or mere murals, they are artistic and historical treasures through the sheer variety of their inspiration: Hindu gods and goddesses, popular tales, games, contemporary events, Indian and European dignitaries.

These paintings, both by their quality and their historical value are an integral part of the universal heritage. They are an essential testimony to local and universal history.

Restoration itself will comprise eight stages 

→ A preliminary survey and assessment of the state of the paintings.

→ A first cleaning operation, to eliminate the yellow or reddish dust coming from the desert or from frequent roadworks, and which gradually covers the murals and frescoes. 

→ A second cleaning operation, to eliminate former repainting, which used ill-adapted pigments that did not match the original colours and tended to run on the stucco, under the effect of weather conditions. 

→ Consolidation, to ensure the cohesion of fresco and mortar, to fill in the cracks due to the structural vibrations of the building or the insertion of metal hooks. Re-fixing the mortar that has come off the stone brackets, due to rain, dampness or saline efflorescence. 

→ Colour enhancement, to make the scenes easier to read by touching up the faded areas and the outlines. 

→ Elimination of plaster mortar and cement. In recent years, the gaps due to humidity have been filled with plaster or cement, keeping water inside the walls, hence causing their decay. Moreover, these recent repairs disfigure the paintings.

→ Using new “arayish”, after rediscovering, with the help of local artisans, the original recipe of this marble-like stucco and the complex procedure of its application. 

→ Application of a protective film, to make the restored fresco more resilient to the havoc wreaked by time.


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8 donations
Traditional post card of the Shekhawati
Traditional post card of the Shekhawati
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22 donations
Post Card + Tea / spices
Traditional post card of the Shekhawati + Gift box of carefully selected tea and spices from the Pushkar and Jaipur markets
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6 donations
Post card + Tote bag
Tote bag with limited edition illustrations by Clemence Trossevin.
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9 donations
Post card + The Shekhawati Project mug
Post card + Shekhawati Project mug
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18 donations (7 left)
Post card + The Painted Towns of Shekhawati book by Ilay Cooper
Post card + The Painted Towns of Shekhawati book by Ilay Cooper.
The Painted Towns of Shekhawati, Ilay Cooper, translated by Jean Pouvelle, A Ready Reference Guide, Prakash Book
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1 donation
Post card + tee-shirt
Exclusive indian design printed tee-shirts.
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12 donations
Post-card + indian shawl
Post card of Shekhawati,
Traditional Shekhawati hand woven shawl
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5 donations
Your choice gifts
Your choice gifts from donations between 10-80€
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2 donations
Post card + earrings
Hand painted silver earrings. The painting represent the iconography of the murals of the Shekhawati.
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1 donation
Post card + small stamped edition hand painted poster
Authentic miniature polychrome poster printed on parchment paper and mounted on block print. Designs representing mythological hindu scenes. Each piece unique.
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Post card + Limited edition printed silk scarf
Silk scarf with haveli fresco inspired prints, designed by Monica Trevisnut exclusively for the Shekhawati Project.
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1 donation
1 night like a Maharaja
1 night stay in the Master’s Room at Le Prince Haveli, cocktail at the Vishnu Bar and dinner. Located in Fatehpur, Shekhawati, this boutique hotel is a historical home restored to it old glory and offers a bohemian chic experience with its lovely gardens, swimming pool, restaurant and terrasses.
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Your choice of the above gifts
Your choice of the above gifts (ex. earrings + shawl)
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ex. earrings + painted miniature + silk scarf
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Limited edition artistic photography
Limited edition artistic photography by Joël Cadiou or Eve Campetrini
Two artists who’ve captured the magic and beauty of India through their travels.
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One week in the life of a Maharaja
6 nights in « Le Prince Suite » with room and ½ board, welcome cocktail at the Vishnu bar, Le Prince Haveli. Located in Fatehpur, Shekhawati, this boutique hotel is a historical home restored to it old glory and offers a bohemian chic experience with its lovely gardens, swimming pool, restaurant and terrasses.
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