Away from its brightly coloured cites, Rajasthan is a dusty, rusty sandscape that stretches as far as the eye can see. Whilst it is punctuated with vibrant cities, the region is underpinned by a centuries old culture, arguably best experienced during a stay at one of its many homestays and havelis. Indian Subcontinent specialist, Rikki, shortlists his favourite Rajasthani properties, perfect for getting off the beaten track.
Rajasthan is an incredible destination, known for its bustling cities, impressive forts and imposing palaces. Although visiting all of the above is an absolute necessity during a trip to this corner of India, get out in the countryside and you will experience something entirely different and unlike any other travel experience in the world. Meet forgotten tribes, revered Maharajas and discover a land the 21st century forgot. This is my guide to just a handful of the amazing properties scattered throughout rural Rajasthan…
Shahpura Bagh is a delightful family-run estate surrounded by picturesque lakes and is located right between Jaipur and Udaipur, making it the perfect way to break up an otherwise long car journey. However, this is so much more than simply a stopover point and more of a destination in itself. Owned by the former royal family who are still very much revered by the locals, who are still wholly involved in the running of the property and are always present to meet guests and exchange fascinating stories. The property is simple and maintains a ‘homestay’ vibe but the real highlight is a visit to the family’s private fort. Enjoy a glass a wine with the sunset and the sounds of the village below, echoing around the ancient walls.
One of my personal favourites, Devi Garh is located just outside Udaipur, so is perfect for those who want to experience rural life but still enjoy access to the lively city. Guests stay in an imposing converted fort set in the most peaceful village with incredible views out to the mountains. Enjoy an evening walk with a local boy through the village and witness authentic daily life. The property also has an amazing pool making it a great place for some well needed R&R!
Jawai is a super luxurious tented camp which gives guests the chance to combine wildlife with a traditional Rajasthani village experience. The tents are amazing and as a Relais and Chateaux property, you know the food and service will be outstanding. Of course, most people visit Jawai to spot the elusive leopards in the nearby hills but actually by visiting the different villages and learning about the deep-rooted caste system is just as much of a highlight. Why not spend a couple of days here between Udaipur and Jaipur?
Tucked away just outside the city of Jodhpur, en-route from Udaipur, Mihir Garh is a delightful boutique property offering superior comfort and luxury. Rooms have private pools or Jacuzzis and the most stunning views over the Rajasthan desert. It’s a great place to discover the desert landscape and the wildlife that inhabits this seemingly desolate region. A tour of the local village where locals still engage in Opium ceremonies is certainly worth doing and keen horse riders can try their skill on one of the local Marwari horses. For a truly special experience, guests can enjoy an exclusive Shikaar dinner in the desert and witness a spectacular Rajasthani sunset!