For the uninitiated, ‘Derawals’ refer to a community of people who originated from the Dera Ghazi Khan and Dera Ismail Khan region of present day Pakistan. During partition in ’47, the Hindu and Sikh Derawals migrated to India while the Muslim Derawals stayed on in Pakistan. Derawals speak a dialect of Seraiki called Derawali, which comes loaded with a healthy complement of choice cuss words. Other than their unique language, they are also revered for their exceptionally good taste in food, their exotic recipes (which are rarely shared with others) and easily the best ‘achaars’ (pickles) anywhere in the world. More than anything else, they know how to have a good time, especially when in large groups – like the one we found ourselves in, at the end of December last year.
Welcome to our 3rd annual Derawal family reunion!!
The Shekhawati region of northeast Rajasthan derives its name from the 15th century Rajput chieftain, Rao Shekha. Today, it comprises the districts of Sikar and the melodious sounding Jhunjhunu. Within Jhunjhunu sits the town of Surajgarh, which was originally the ‘Thikana’ (estate) of Thakur Bhojraj Ji. The Thikana was established in the late 18th century and a fortified palace was built for the good Thakur’s use.
Surajgarh literally means ‘castle of the sun’ and with the Thakur long gone, that very castle has since been transformed into a heritage hotel, where we stayed!