Rural Rajasthan is the stuff of your imagination; swirling moustaches, vibrant saris, fairy-tale palaces, forgotten forts, wandering cows and snooty camels – the very essence of India in all its eye-popping technicolour glory.
As the road signs dwindle, the potholes increase, and a man on a moped is sent to meet you and show you the last secret mile to your lodgings, you’ll known you’re soon to discover some of Rajasthan’s hidden gems. At Indian Excursions, we feel that no visit to Rajasthan is complete without steering off the beaten track, slipping on to a bumpy road or two to experience the region’s villages and smaller towns. Here are a few of our favourite places to stay in rural Rajasthan (in no particular order), for your inspiration:
The lovely Rawla Narlai is located about half-way between Jodhpur and Udaipur. This 17th century gem was once a hunting lodge of the Jodhpur royal family, and lies hidden away in the heart of the Aravalli hills. In our opinion it’s one of the most beautiful parts of the state, surrounded by forested hills and rocky outcrops. It’s an ideal place to relax and recharge your batteries after the hustle and bustle of the larger cities, and a wonderful way to experience the quieter side of the region. Dotted through the grounds there are lots of shady nooks and crannies where you can relax with a drink or read a book under beautifully fragrant frangipani. Or, if you’re feeling more active, we recommend a hike up Elephant Hill to catch the sunrise. A walk through the village is a must and feels as though you’re stepping back in time.
Nestled in the rural countryside, Castle Bijaipur is a sixteenth century heritage listed royal residence, converted into a boutique hotel by the ruling family. It’s an incredibly friendly and relaxing place to spend a night or two, and is steeped in rich history and heritage. It makes a great base for exploring Chittorgarh Fort, or for breaking the journey from Jaipur to Udaipur.
Ladies dressed in colourful local dress in a village near Castle Bijaipur, Rajastan
Dev Shree is a gorgeous new property located in the midst of rural Rajasthan. With just seven tastefully decorated rooms, this intimate homestay would be a charming addition to any tour of the region. Surrounded by the Aravali mountain range, you’d be forgiven for thinking Dev Shree is in the middle of nowhere, though it’s actually perfectly positioned in the middle of everywhere! Dev Shree is just a two hour drive from Udaipur, three from Jodhpur and four from Jaipur, though is far enough away to steer off the beaten track and experience the peace and natural beauty of rural Rajasthan. It’s an ideal spot to relax and recharge your batteries mid-tour.
Anopura is quite possibly the world’s small luxury hotel, offering just two guestrooms and a luxury tent. Located an hour outside of bustling Jaipur, Anopura is an oasis of natural beauty and serenity, nestled in the shadow of the ancient Aravali Mountains and endless green fields. This is a side to India that many tourists never get to see; a glimpse of rural life that hasn’t changed for centuries. The only noise you’ll hear is the occasional peacock’s cry, or the gentle chirping of crickets in the evening; a welcomed contrast from the buzzing Pink City of Jaipur. Between meals, there is little to do other than breathe in the scent of frangipani, relax on a charpoy around the stunning plunge pool, and take in the majestic countryside views. For the more energetic of guests, the resort offers a range of complimentary activities, such as a bird-watching, camel trekking, Jeep safaris or a visit to the local village.
Nestled in the Aravalli mountains on the outskirts of Udaipur, RAAS Devigarh is a glorious 18th century fort-palace. It’s grand domes, turrets and balconies evoke the rich romance and heritage of Rajasthan with an aura of fairy-tale like magic. If you can tear yourself away from the spectacular suites, there’s lots to see and explore during a stay at Devigarh. You could indulge yourself with a fabulous spa treatment, greet the sunrise with a rooftop yoga glass or enjoy a guided walk around the palace and local village. If you’re feeling a bit more active, horse or camel rides can be arranged, bicycles are available to rent and longer treks can be taken through the surrounding hills. Private dining can be arranged almost anywhere throughout the palace and vast grounds, from a tucked-away-balcony under the stars to the ornately mirrored Sheesh Mahal.
Located in a remote rural setting in the heart of Rajasthan, this is a hidden gem of a hotel with a unique concept – everything placed within the 12 small cottages has been locally sourced. This creative idea, paired with a range of bespoke village-themed excursions, allows guests to really embrace traditional Rajasthani village life. The stunning interiors are colourful, quirky, and wonderfully ‘shabby-chic’. Lakshman Sagar is an ideal place to unwind and recharge mid-trip, in a beautiful natural setting.
Surrounded by golden dunes in the heart of the Thar Desert, yet conveniently located just two hours drive from Jodhpur, Samsara is ideal for those who’d like to soak up an authentic desert experience. The en-suite luxury tents are tastefully decorated with locally sourced furniture, vibrant block-printed fabrics, and traditional dhurries (rugs). There’s not many hotels in the world where check-in is completed by a camel ride –sitting atop one of these strange and lovely creatures is a fantastic experience, and one which is unlikely to be forgotten! Another highlight is the exhilarating Jeep safari, dipping in and out of the golden sand dunes, passing through remote desert settlements made from mud huts. At Samsara, evenings are a lively affair with colourful folk dance performances around a blazing bonfire.
Nestled on the outskirts of Jaipur, Amanbagh is a whisper-quiet retreat, whose name translates to peaceful garden. Shaded courtyards, rose-tinted walled and regal cupolas evoke the majesty of the Mughal era and will leave you feeling like a modern day Maharaja. The suites are spacious and extremely comfortable, offering either a private garden or courtyard. The central swimming pool is ideal for relaxing and unwinding, as is the spa and library, though if you’re feeling active and would like to explore rural life in Rajasthan we’d recommend Amanbagh’s signature Sunset Cow Dust Tour. This experience whisks you through the village in an open-top Jeep: smiling children play in the streets, and farmers herd their cows, goats and buffalo. In the mornings, the spooky spectacle of Bhangarh makes for a fascinating excursion.
If you’d like to steer off the beaten track on your upcoming visit to Rajasthan, please do get in touch. As specialists in private, bespoke tours of this region, we’d be an ideal match to assist with your arrangements and would be delighted to craft your tailor-made tour.0