* Warning: picture overload!
Here is the first post in this new feature/column. Every last Sunday of the month I’ll be talking about and showing you a place I have seen and I think is worth sharing. Someday, a place I disliked might end up in this section but still worth sharing with you to avoid disappointments!
Today’s subject: Mandawa.
In 2010, Husband and I went on a trip to northern India. We stayed there for two weeks and travelled through Rajasthan, Delhi and Agra. On our way, we encountered beautiful scenery, but also misery and a lot of dirt.
India can leave many impressions on you. It’s a country of scents, colors, smiles, but unfortunately also of garbage, poverty and filth. It is true, what they say, I believe: ‘Either you love it, or you hate it’. I managed to see through the filth and found the beauty. I do love the smells (the nice ones), colors and cuisine of India. That helped, of course.
I will not talk about all the wonderful places I saw in India in one post, that would make for a very long post. Therefor, I will do it in parts, one spot at a time. I won’t be reviewing India every month either, I plan on adding some variety in this column!
So today, I’ll be discussing Mandawa. A small place in Rajasthan, somewhere along the road from Delhi to Bikaner. I’ll situate it for you, or rather, let Google Maps do that 😉
Mandawa isn’t very big, but is known for it’s haveli’s. Haveli’s are sort of townhouses with multiple floors, sometimes even a whole block or residence, often painted with beautiful fresco’s. Originally popular in de Mughal era, but later more were built or restored. They are big works of art, with dozens of different sized spaces, courtyards and richly decorated façades. Definitely worth a visit. We went haveli-spotting for about half a day and I wasn’t bored for one second. We even ate lunch on the roof of a smaller, restored haveli. I will share some images with you of our day about town:
During our walk around the village, we were constantly ‘harassed’ by begging locals. This is something you are confronted with in many places in India. You can let it all slide by you, but sometimes that’s easier said than done. In Mandawa, for example, I was relentlessly followed by a little boy of about 10. He got in my way when I tried to take pictures. I took some effort not to have him in front of the camera for every picture. Thankfully, they were not allowed into most of the haveli’s, which gave us some breathing room. This being said, tasting the local atmosphere is definitely something you should do in India. Visit little market places and towns. If you limit your trip to classy hotels and big tourist attractions, you will miss a lot of what India has to offer. Obviously, the tourist attractions are worth seeing, but the other side of India and its population does have it’s charm.
So Mandawa is a small town, with not much to see, aside from the haveli’s, but I still found it worth a stop. I wouldn’t stay more than a day, but if you’re in the area, or passing through, a quick visit would be worth your time. If not for the haveli’s, a night’s stay at the big hotel in town, Castle Mandawa, might convince you. It used to be a maharadja palace or something, now a proper hotel. We heard some criticism from other guests about the ‘bugs’, but you’re in India, in a small town in an open palace, what did you expect. With ‘bugs’, I mean crickets and gekko’s. They were in the room yes, the crickets even in the enormous bathtub. But during the evening meal, staff members would spray the rooms and the only insects you would find after, would be dead ones. I personally couldn’t be bothered, but that’s a matter of opinion.
Other than that, the hotel was clean, huge and simply… gorgeous. The room was what I hoped a hotel room in India would look like. We hadn’t booked one of the nicest rooms for budgetary reasons of course, but I still found it nice enough. Take a look at their website if you would like to see others (worth a look!). When we were there, big renovations were taking place in our part of the hotel. The food was tasteful and varied. Large buffets and drinks, served in the yard with candlelight at dinnertime. So lovely. And I haven’t even mentioned the wonderful swimming pool and poolside bar. I was told they also hosted weddings in the hotel. When this was mentioned I cast a meaningful glance at my Husband (just Boyfriend at the time). Haha, I still remember the look on his face!
Well, take a look for yourself:
Isn’t this just the loveliest reading corner ever?
The tiniest little bathroom door…
for a ballroom size bathroom!
What do you guys think? Do the pictures appeal to you, or not? Or did I scare you with my talk of ‘bugs’? 😉