The Magnificent Mandawa Castle – The Picturesque Fort
One of Rajasthan’s most beautiful cities, Mandawa that lies at the heart of the Shekhawati region is one that stands out for its exceptional havelis, forts, palaces, temples and more. Located 190 km off Jaipur; this picturesque city is often referred to as the ‘Open air Gallery’ and represents one of the best examples of Rajasthani architecture and art.
Founded in the 18th century, Mandawa was a famous stopover for those proceeding on the well- known Silk Route to China, soon becoming the home of several wealthy merchants who went on to build extravagant havelis for themselves here. Today it is these palatial mansions adorned with stunning paintings and the baolis constructed here, that attract tourists making it one of Rajasthan’s most sought after tourist destinations.
This time it was a sudden plan, me and my brother were still debating over the place. We were trying to get Pushkar embedded in our travel logs, however at the last moment we decided to pay visit to the Mandawa Castle. (Courtesy of Govt & since I have already been to Pushakr) From Jaipur this picturesque town is approximately 180 KM’s, situated on the border of district Jhunjunu. Wonderful and smooth NH 11 till Sikar city is a blessing in hot scorching summer of Rajasthan. Keep the AC turned on and your foot on the gas! Very well maintained and worth driving. We did not had issues till Sikar, however a patch of about 20 KM’s from Sikar to Mandawa is poor and not worth driving, especially your own vehicle.
I have stayed in North India for the most of my life, and I have so hated the summers. The hot, harsh sun on its way to the zenith would seemingly suck the life out of me. Then, a glass of chilled sugarcane juice from the roadside vendor would not only quench my thirst but also invigorate me with renewed energy. Believe me, when I used to have a glass of this magical drink, a soothing calm would spread through my insides and make me feel nice a new person. You will find ample amount of small sugarcane juice stalls, these are particularly amazing with the way they work!
Some Useful Information: Given its popularity to beat the heat, it should come as no surprise that India is one of the leading producers of sugarcane. It is called many different names depending on the local tongue, but it still is the same humble sugarcane bringing peace to every parched soul. Loaded with abundant minerals like calcium, phosphorus, zinc, and potassium, and vitamins like A, B- complex, and C, sugarcane juice also keeps you in top shape.
Now most of the drive on our way to Mandawa Castle was fun, however there is a patch of about 20 KM’s odd that you need to watch out for. Well I did not wanted to do a worse comparison, however below pictures tells you the story! NH11 Vs the bad road patch of Mandawa.
On the road trips that I have now been taking for more than a year, the most amazing part that I like is the well served and delicious food served at “Dhaba”. It’s cheap, it’s tasty and no matter how much you eat, the tummy says not done! Delicious Daal served with hot Roti, what else could I have imagined.
Post our lunch at Dhaba and that annoying road patch on our way to Mandawa, we finally reached in the middle of summer heat. It was roughly a 3 hours drive which included our stop at 3 toll’s and a delicious lunch at Dhaba.
Upon check in, we went in our traditional room of Mandawa castle and wanted to get in our swimsuits and throw ourselves in the pool. Now considering the fact that this was a popular tourist destination, the amenities are well managed. Pool is a bliss in summer, water is cold with a small “Bar” area for chilled refreshments (Alcoholic & Non-Alcoholic) served right at the pool side. Even the bartender was dressed up in traditional dress, felt like entire hospitality of Rajasthan was served with utmost niche!
The oldest residential buildings in the castle date back to the early 1800s and very little original paintings survive on the exterior walls. One look around the various buildings in the Fort and its is evident that the buildings have been built over a period of time and in various styles as well. From traditional Rajput-style architecture with Mughal influences to colonial style arches and columns — they are all there.
Post lying in the pool for endless hours, we thought of bidding sun good bye and wanted to head for our room’s, off course delicious food was in line by the castle. On the way to our room’s which were nearby, I managed to capture a little glimpse of the beauty which castle had to offer.
Post our retreat to our rooms, we were exhausted and wanted to have a luxurious dinner, and guess what, Castle Mandawa never disappoints, even though I have plenty of images for our delicious and royal dinner buffet, I would not embed them in this post. Rather watch the dinner served with utmost royalty in the video below. Video available on my Youtube channel as well.
Post the dinner, all we could think about was our bed, exhausted we crashed on to our beds. Next morning we woke up and we never knew that breakfast was also an ingredient part of our life. They had everything, literally everything! Watch the video below.
Heavy breakfast and it was my turn to drive, I wanted to go to bed desperately. No choice though, the corporate life significantly effects your leisure lifestyle. Headed back, but before we were about to wander off , I caught the glimpse of Castle from outside.
I didn’t find Mandawa to be a very friendly place. Yes, it is used to tourists and being a tourist hub for the region. But I don’t think Mandawa really likes them, especially Indian tourists. When I arrived at the Fort, I first had to get through a group of men all clamoring for my attention and offering to guide me through the various havelis in Mandawa. I might have taken up the services of one of them, but once they figured out that I was not an NRI, but an Indian they just lost interest and walked away. Every single one of them !
It makes me wonder why. Don’t Indians like to pay or are pay poorly or don’t appreciate the guides or the havelis? Or were the guides just men who were hanging around the Fort hoping to make some money from an unsuspecting tourist (NRI or foreign) and thought an Indian would know better?
Please drop a comment at the end of the page for anything that you have in your mind about Mandawa.