Nawalgarh is a place so isolated from the world, it would take you a lot of resilience to get there. It’s one of those lesser discovered gems that you probably only heard of because of the Nawalgarh Palace- a Club Mahindra property. Not to worry though, it can be booked online and isn’t an exclusive members-only resort. Nawalgarh is a small town in the Jhunjhunu district. It’s the best way to discover the little palaces, forts and kings whose reign never made it to the history books, giving you inside information into the royal lifestyle of the small-time kings and their kingdom.
This enchanting little palace is the ideal getaway if you’re in the mood to cut off from the world, breathe free and away from the constant phone calls and touristic madness of the hill stations. It doesn’t scream for attention, as beautiful things seldom do, and is one of those typical offbeat places with a few sightseeing options and little to do but peace out from the world.
At an approximate distance of 570 kms, Nawalgarh is a 5 hour drive. Most part of the drive is a breeze, but you might encounter a few rough patches along the way. Google Maps could stop working once you enter Jhunjhunu, it’s best to take screenshots of the route in advance. Stop to ask the locals if you lose your way- the auto drivers with their jazzed up carts are the ones with all the knowledge of the routes!
Where to Stay:
There’s only one place to stay in Nawalgarh- the palace turned into a heritage resort. It’s divided into two sections, one owned by Club Mahindra (the rear part of the resort) and the other called the Roop Niwas Kothi, run by the Rawal of Nawalgarh. Don’t do expecting luxury, you will be disappointed. Consider the hotel a typical 4 star property, but a lot less modern and whole lot traditional. Naturally since it’s a heritage resort, the in-room amenities are limited, with buckets and showers in place of bath tubs, and soaps instead of fancy body washes. The decor has an old-world charm to it, just as the rest of the property.
We drove into the resort, to be greeted by a blingy auto parked outside the tiny cottage turned into a reception area. (The auto, as we discovered later, is at the disposal of hotel guests.) There’s a decent-sized pool at the property, with costumes you can rent, though I would recommend you carry your own. In the evening, they screened a movie on a large screen in the lawn for all hotel guests. Bicycles are also available on rent, along with badminton rackets, carom boards and chess boards. While the property is cut off, there are plenty options for kids to keep themselves busy.
Things to Do in and around Nawalgarh:
While there isn’t much to catch the fancy of an adventure junkie, there are a bunch of things to explore in the area. If you’re looking for a relaxed weekend with bae, you could stick around the hotel property itself; if discovering a new place sounds more like your area of interest, you can discover the forts and palaces around the area. Those who prefer to be out and about can drive to different places around the area. Here are some of the things worth exploring:
- Taal Chappar Blackbuck Sanctuary: This sanctuary is quite underrated for the experience it offers. Located in a place so hidden, you probably wouldn’t know it existed, is a deer sanctuary in Rajasthan. It’s about 100 kms off Nawalgarh, making it a 2 hour drive give or take. This one is a precious find, with acres of vast, empty fields full of black buck. You can drive in with your own car (or rent a safari jeep) and the blackbuck will run parallel to your car! It’s a joy to watch, and you might even be able to pet the young ones. We had one follow our car all the way to the minuscule lake inside the sanctuary. Although it was a hot day, sitting under the shade of the trees beside the lake, watching the buck drink water was such a refreshing and calming experience.
- Shekhawat Horse Stable, Chirana Bagh and Roop Niwas Kothi: Roop Niwas Kothi, now a heritage resort, offers horse riding lessons and horseback rides. In a tie up with the Shekhawat Horse Stable, they offer various packages as well as luxury weekend tent options. The better thing to do though, is to visit the Shekhawat Horse Stable to visit the beautiful Rajasthani horses. Most of them are quite handsome and you could see if they have any horse riding activities going on at the time.
- Jathia Haveli, Dundlod: Dundlod is a 20 minute drive from Nawalgarh, it’s not much different from other Rajasthani havelis. The haveli is well preserved for starters, but is usually shut unless you find the key-keeper to open it up for you.
What to Avoid:
Don’t get lured into visiting the Mehandipur Balaji Temple at a distance of 199 kms from Nawalgarh. It isn’t the distance that should put you off, but the thought of standing in a long queue without footwear, around fly-ridden cow poop. It doesn’t get any better once you get in. After a whole lot of pushing and shoving, you stumble to the prayer area to see the idol, only to be told you need to move on so the next person in line can barely get a glimpse too. There’s nothing special about this temple (quite the contrary, I’m afraid) and unless you have strong religious reasons to visit, it’s best to steer clear of this one.