We had read about the Shekhawati region and wanted to visit it to experience it first hand. The region is close to Gurgaon, where we live - about 225kms, or 4-5 hours of road journey. The journey is largely on a state highway which is in reasonable shape, except for a 25-30 km stretch where the road is very narrow and largely broken which will doubtless give a hard time to the chassis of your car. That aside, we were pretty comfortable with the added bonus of lovely mustard fields contrasting with the stark, barren desert landscape all along the way which made the ride visually appealing.
Alsisar is a small village in the region, which probably was prosperous in the past but has since seen a large number of its people migrate to bigger cities leaving the village in half-ruins with a large number of deserted havelis most of which are being slowly and inexorably consumed by time. Indra Vilas is one such haveli which belonged to a wealthy trader in the past, but has since been sold to someone who has restored it and now running it as a resort. There isnt much to do in the village as such, except seeing the old havelis with their beautifully painted walls and frescoes and of course, the dusty-mouldy remains of an era gone by. Most of the villagers are involved in small trade with perhaps a small number subsisting on agriculture - whatever the harsh, arid desert land will let grow. The haveli is well maintained, with many rooms, each of which ranges in size from very large to huge.
We went in the winters, so couldnt take a dip in the pool, but it looked pretty nice nonetheless. Stay at one of the pool facing rooms on the ground floor - given the limited number of travellers the place gets, getting a room of your choice shouldnt be an issue. The staff are very courteous and will arrange for everything that you need. We had a small bon fire where the staff even arranged for some locals to perform a traditional Rajasthani dance. The food was decent, though I was hoping for something more Rajasthani (Dal Bati, Lal Maas etc) but unfortunately wasnt available. I was told that they could arrange for a camel safari, jeep ride in the desert but we couldnt take that up for the lack of time. There's a small liqour vend about 1 km from the haveli should you need anything, but dont expect it to offer anything but a basic selection of liquors. There is also a shop selling traditional Rajasthani handicraft etc bang opposite the entrance of the haveli, buying from which might actually help support the local community.
If a haveli stay is what you are after, also consider staying at the next door Alsisar Mahal which is much grander. If you have the time and the inclination, try and visit Mandawa which will be a more authentic Shekhawati experience.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Alsisar is one of the finest, yet untouched gems of Shekhawati. This we have endeavored to polish, protect and preserve for you, the connoisseurs, who care and feel for the great inheritance bequeathed by events of history. The hundred-room haveli built by Indrachand Kejriwal in a ten-acre compound extending to ancient wells built to grand scale, welcomes guests to stay in splendor of the past with modern comforts. Walk around the village to explore the art hidden in the profusion of mansions and temples dotting every street. Sit around the village pond chatting with inquisitive kids, artisans and wizened old folks. Ride a camel for dinner on the dunes, in the backdrop of folk dances and lilting tunes. Come, indulge yourselves with the legendary Rajasthan hospitality. While you are pampered, the village is reinvigorated, blowing off the sand from hidden frescoes and reviving the rich traditions of the bygone era. ... more less
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