The beautiful 15th Century village of Narlai is a long way down the road less travelled, situated almost equidistant from Jodhpur and Udaipur. It’s not the kind of place that the mainstream visit; it’s for those inquisitive – and discerning – travelers who really want to understand a country and get under its skin.

Narlai is a close-knit rural village where life hasn’t changed for generations, with an economy that is based on horticulture and cattle. This is India as it once was. The surrounding countryside, formerly a favourite hunting ground of the Maharaja of Jodhpur, is untamed and largely untouched. Leopards roam freely around the hillocks and lakes which are such an integral part of the Narlai panorama.

Narlai is one of those places where the more you dig, the more treasure you uncover. It is perhaps most famous for the huge granite boulder around which the village has been formed. At the top of the boulder – there are 700 steps carved into the granite to get up there – a  white marble elephant stands guard. The views from the summit are breathtaking, looking out over undulating countryside with distant deserts just discernible in the distance.

The village is also home to a stunning stepwell, reported to be over 1,000 years old, and literally thousands of small Hindu and Jain shrines. One temple is said to be where a miraculous flame is reputed to have burnt for centuries, producing saffron instead of soot.

And if you want to see larger shrines – well, vast actually – the Jain temple at Ranakpur is about 40kms away.

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Rawla Narlai

Crenelated former village stronghold redesigned with a dash of contemporary style. Charming shady courtyards, superb pool area and a tented spa. Great activities. Set out by 4x4 to spot leopards, go birdwatching at nearby lakes or hack out on thoroughbred Rajasthani horses.

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