It’s some years now that I have been the last time in Mandawa. It is one of the most popular spots for tourists in Rajastan. A town of ca. 25000 people, 190 km away from Jaipur. Small, not too easy to reach, but really impressive.
Established in the 17th and 18th century this is a place that is even today popular for shooting movies, a town that is also dotted with numerous haveli and is believed to be an open art gallery due to the number of beautiful decorated haveli, beautiful architectural constructions built by many wealthy and crucial merchants of bygone era. Mandawa was a known place at the Shekhwati Silk Route. 200 years back these merchants built up havelis with colorful carvings and several other architectural marvels. However they migrated to other areas and left the magnificent architectural marvels of theirs in the shadows of anonymity. A great attraction for tourists today!
But with the Covid crises everything has changed.
The town is empty. The habitants stay at home and there is no income source any more. The shops are closed. No touristic drivers, no guests. The general education and literacy level is below average. Many of the young people left the town in the recent years with the hope to earn some money and have worked in the big cities, mostly in informal jobs, as migrant workers.
After the announcement of the curfew due to the Covid19 crisis they have come back home . They have lost their jobs in the cities, too.
The economic situation is critical. Many do not even know on how to buy some food anymore.
Mandawa has seen a lot of tourists, mainly for some hours, maybe a day or two, but it has never become rich out of it.
The tourists brought some money, it was sufficient for a very decent life – a little bit of agriculture. That’s it.
A friend of mine has sent a video. All streets are empty. The market is open a few hours only.
“I tell you about me that if it will last more days so I change my track to choose other options like joining any wooden factory or something else, here there is no opportunity at all to stay,” he says. “People are not able to do much. Not even hair cut or shaving. Now some of them try to sell some vegetables and many others just stay indoors.”
A situation that cannot last as it is.
Let’s hope that things will change for better soon. It’s getting life threatening… not in Mandawa only.