amid idyllic hills, it provides a welcome respite from the searing
heat of Rajasthan. The modest sized town is home to one the
wealthiest temples in India. Town it self is famous for it's
exuberant festivals, miniature paintings, jewellery and above all,
it's sweets. Threat of cholesterol and calories have yet to deter
the culinary experts of this town who add sugar and butter to
almost all dishes!!
Life in the town revolves around the "Haveli" term used for all
the temples of the "Pushti Marga". This is one of the most
colourful sects within the devotional side of Hinduism. It also
happens to be one of the few that do not advocate renunciation for
spiritual growth. It is this worldly, practical and realistic view
of life that lends itself to the colourfulness of the sect.
Only 42 km. north of Udaipur, Nathadwara is easily reached by
plane or car. Constant stream of pilgrims has resulted in
plentiful supply of transport and accommodation at Nathadwara.
Cheap and cheerful rooms start at 50p per night, moving up to high
quality accommodation at £20 per night. Price of accommodation
rises as you move away from centre of Town. Reasonable rooms, with
on suite toilet and bath, can be easily found for £5 per night.
The more luxurious, air-conditioned hotels, are mainly situated
out of town. Restaurants in town cater for a wide range of
vegetarian tastes, however, it is illegal to consume alcohol
within the town limits.
The Havali is the centre of attraction in the Town. Its inner
sanctum is opened only eight times a day when devotees throng to
catch a glimpse of the sacred form of the Lord Shrinathji. Rest of
the time, it is relatively free of crowds, ideal for those wanting
to explore the beauty of Rajasthani art and architecture. The
entire place seems to be in a time capsule, still living the regal
life long abandoned by Maharajahs of India. Temple servants still
wear the clothes and costumes of the bygone era, serving the Lord
of Nathadwara as the beloved prince and darling of Nanadaraj and
regular intervals, classical music is played live in its many
halls as pilgrims float through its perfumed marble halls and
courtyards. Pankhwalas still manually pull on the large fans to
cool the interior. Drums and trumpets are still played to announce
the mid-day's "Royal Darshan". Like all rajput palaces/ mansions,
the Havali is built around several split level courtyards. The
solid white exterior hides the airiness achieved by this device.
All doorways are painted and are often flanked by drawings of
elephants, horses, beautiful maidens and doorkeepers.
Shrinathji, the main deity of the sect, resides in regal splendour,
always immaculately dressed and jewelled. Exquisitely worked
jewels, some dating back to pre-Mogul India, are worn by
Shrinathji on daily basis. Here at least the jewels are not kept
behind glass, but used for what they were intended. Everything in
the inner temple, from china to silver/ gold-ware, paintings, wall
hangings, clothes and furniture, are of the finest quality. Havali
itself employs some 1000 people, whilst rest of the town thrives
on the business given directly or indirectly by the Havali and the
The best thing about the place is its mystic tranquillity. The
feeling of peace and spirituality seems to rise above the humdrum
of the town. Numerous groves, gardens, parks and fields outside
the town provide perfect escape from the crowds, you can also cool
off in the river Banas nearby. Town itself is small enough to be
explored on foot. Rickshaws and horse carts are available for
those who do not wish to brave the heat of Rajasthan.