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Desert | Escorted tour | History & culture
The Shekhawati region in Rajasthan is an area of mostly arid desert, crossed by the ancient caravan routes that carried goods between Europe and the Far East. The town of Mandawa was born along this route, initially as a protective outpost, and soon wealthy traders came to settle, spending their profits on building palatial mansions.
Part of the charm of Castle Mandawa lies in the individual rooms – 70 in total – each individually and distinctively decorated, reflecting a long list of past occupants and their tastes. Alongside first-class comfort and amenities including marble bathtubs fit for emperors, expect whimsical artifacts and imperious views over the town.
Mealtimes here affect the rest of your senses as much as your tastebuds. The delicately spiced aromas rising from the curries; the intricate murals lining the walls of the dining room; the subtle plucking of a sitar; the dust of roti flour all combine to create a fabulous dining experience. A blowout option is the Shekhawati ‘royal repast’, a candlelit dinner on the lawns or around a bonfire in the rear courtyard, with entertainment from a fire dancer swaying to the beat of traditional drums.
A tempting pool sits pretty in manicured gardens and a croquet lawn and a luxury spa provide further distraction. Hotel staff can also organise camel and horse rides, jeep safaris and a heritage walk around Mandawa town, renowned as an open-air art gallery for its typical Shekhawait havelis (mansions) with lavishly decorated walls. Excursions further afield take in fascinating neighbouring towns, the Blackbuck sanctuary at Talchapar and the religious sites of Salasar Balaji, Jeenmata and Lohagal.
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