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Special Places to Stay in Mandawa
'$' Signs against Hotels indicate its Category
Castle Mandawa ($)
Castle Mandawa is literally a castle in the centre of Mandawa, made up of a maze of terraces and courtyards, narrow staircases and other intriguing elements.
Desert Resort ($)
Located on the outskirts of Mandawa and overlooking fields and sand dunes, the Desert Resort is a purpose built village. It has streets, little hamlets and thatched pavilions from which to enjoy the surroundings.
Mandawa Haveli ($)
Mandawa Haveli is a late 19th century building converted into a heritage hotel. A majestic entrance leads to an inner courtyard decorated with fresco paintings portraying legends of Lord Krishna's life.
Things to see and do in Mandawa
A dry and arid region bordering the Thar desert, Shekhavati nonetheless played a very important part in the camel trade from central Asia to the east. Camel caravans would stop here for shelter and well-earned rest. The smart trading community here exploited opportunities this opened up and in turn became prosperous. To date, some of the major trading families control a substantial part of the Indian economy.
For themselves, in their home towns, these traders created impressive havelis. Maybe to compensate for the dry and colourless region, they decorated their havelis with grand frescoes and murals. The tradition of fresco paintings gave patronage to thousands of artists. There was an unspoken competition between the merchants to have more opulent, more intricate carvings.
Popular themes in the frescoes are scenes from the life of gods like Krishna and stories from Ramayana and Mahabharata. The increasing contact with the western world resulted in some fanciful paintings: Gods riding cars, airplanes, trains, soldiers, even the British Queen and her entourage!
The Suez Canal made the silk route redundant and the many traders moved on to fresher markets like Bombay and Calcutta. For years, the havelis lay in disuse, and it is only in the last two decades, since the arrival of tourists, that interest in this deserted area has been revived.
The main towns of Shekhawati are Sikar, Nawalgarh, Dunlod, Mandawa, Jhunjhunu and Fatehpur but some of the earliest painted havelis are found in the town of Mandawa. The Saraf, Chokhani and Goenka Havelis are especially worth visiting. Shekhawati is a photographer's delight.
A Short Camel Ride to the surrounding area
An afternoon camel ride is a good way to get to know the Shekhawati desert and explore the surrounding villages. It is a short but scenic ride going past village dwellings, step-wells and farms.