Mandawa: How to reach + What to see

By 11:56 Tuesday 9 January 2018 , ,

As I briefly spoke about in the last post, Mandawa is a small town in the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan, known for its beautiful painted havelis built by Marwari merchants in the 18th century. Sparsely populated now, Mandawa was once an important trade town as it lies on the popular Silk Route, with the magnificent Mandawa Fort at its centre. 

The good news- it's just a 5 hour drive {230km} from Delhi and makes for a great, off-beat weekend getaway. You can easily cover the entire town by foot and 2-3 days are more than enough to experience the best of it. {Fun fact: Many bollywood movies like Love Aaj Kal, Paheli, Jab we met, PK, Half Girlfriend, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and more have been shot here!}

Getting there

In addition to being well connected to Delhi by road, there are also regular trains to Mandawa from Delhi. The nearest railway stations are Jhunjhunu and Churu, which are both almost an hour's drive away from Mandawa. However, I would suggest the latter because it's a wonderful place in itself with gorgeous old havelis and houses. {You can read more about Churu here.} You will find numerous local cabs outside the railway station, which will charge around 1000 bucks for a one-way drop. 

Things to do

1. Travel back in time with its countless havelis

Hire a guide if you want to make the most of your trip to Mandawa. There are too many havelis and each one comes with a different, yet equally interesting story. Our guide was a friendly school-going boy who impressed me a lot with his humility, knowledge and sincere attempts at communicating in English. I do not have a definitive list, but do check out the popular ones like Sewaram Saraf Haveli, Ram Pratap Nemani Haveli {now converted into Hotel Vivaana Cultural}, Goenka Haveli, Murmuria Haveli, Mohan Lal Saraf Haveli, and Gulab Rai Ladia Haveli.

2. Explore the Mandawa Fort

Half of the fort has been converted into a beautiful hotel called Castle Mandawa {run and owned by the royal family} and the other half is open for the public. We had a great time walking through the narrow doorways and climbing on to the top of the fort to enjoy the aerial view. It is mostly in a state of ruins but expect to see some beautiful archways, wooden doors and coloured glass windows.

3. Shop for hand-made leather shoes

A couple of vendors sell great variety of leather footwear {including some lovely mojaris} at fairly reasonable prices. Other than that, you will also find a couple of handicrafts shops selling antiques.

4. Enjoy the sunset at the cenotaphs

We stumbled upon a group of chhatris just a few minutes away from the fort. We reached just as the sun was setting and the light was surreal, making it a great spot for photography {AND SELFIES, judge me all you want}.

5. Visit Raghunath Temple

Just a few steps from the Sonthaliya Gate, you will spot the pristine white domes of Raghunath Temple with the customary red flags fluttering at their tips. Expect some neat {and fairly new} frescos on the wall inspired from the Ramayana.


There aren't a lot of choices when it comes to eating out in Mandawa. Hotel Mandawa Haveli, the place where I stayed, served decent food but I preferred the restaurant at a nearby hotel called Radhika Haveli. Their service is quick, food is fresh and prices are super pocket friendly. Another popular restaurant in the area is Monica Rooftop Restaurant which is preferred by the foreign tourists. Though it is run by really sweet family in the premises of their lovely home, the food {we ordered veg noodles and manchurian} did not live up to our expectations. Pro tip: stick to ordering simple Indian food in Mandawa to lessen the chances of disappointment. Other than this, there are quite a few halwais here and there selling piping hot samosas and kachoris, in case you're game.

Monica Rooftop Restaurant

Radhika Haveli

I find it extremely surprising that a great destination like Mandawa isn't known by any, despite being one of the top choices of Bollywood directors as well as a good chunk of foreign tourist. But perhaps, this makes it a lot more exclusive and only adds to its mystical charm. Visit you must, for the sheer joy of unravelling the lesser read pages of history, one gorgeous haveli at a time.

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