Just a few hours’ drive from Jaipur and other Rajasthani tourist hotspots, the magical region of Shekhawati offers all the attractions of its more famous neighbors, with a fraction of the visitors.

Historic murals in one of Shekhawati’s extravagant mansions
Historic murals in one of Shekhawati’s extravagant mansions

In the latter days of the Raj this was one of the richest regions in India, thanks to enterprising local traders who made vast fortunes in places like Bombay and Calcutta, and sent the profits back to Shekhawati’s dusty little towns. Their riches funded the construction of hundreds of extravagant havelis (mansions), each flaunting elaborate façades and flamboyant painted exteriors.

Though some have been restored, most are now falling into slow decay, an atmospheric memorial to the wealth and fashions of a past era. Many of the havelis are also notable for their remarkable murals, their walls covered in a quirky array of eclectic paintings depicting traditional religious subjects alongside the latest European fashions and inventions – anything from representations of Krishna to images of new- fangled railways and hot-air balloons.

Practical Information

Getting There and Around Travel by air or rail to Jaipur, from where there is a good bus service to Shekhawati, 95 miles (150 km) away. There are also direct train services to Shekhawati from Delhi, 155 miles (250 km) away.

Where to Stay and Eat Among the nicest options is Apani Dhani, a gorgeous, eco-friendly rural retreat in the town of Nawalgarh, offering well-equipped rooms and delicious vegetarian cuisine.

When to Go Between October and March.

Budget per Day for Two US$85

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