Built in the 15th century, the tiny typically Rajasthani village of Narlai is in a beautiful area near the hills that divide the Mewar (in the south) from the Marwar (in the northwest). It is dominated by Elephant Hill, an imposing granite boulder the size of several houses, from the top of which there are stunning views of the dramatic desert plains and Aravalli Hills. Take a sunrise or sunset walk to the summit of this towering granite peak, or venture further afield – there are brilliant hikes and village walks through wonderfully rugged surroundings, dotted with lakes, forests and fields.
There are also jeep excursions available to search for the elusive leopard who roam this boulder-strewn landscape, once an important hunting ground for the Royal family of Jodhpur. There is also a local cave temple to visit dedicated to Lord Shiva where it is said the great Indian sage Shri Narad meditated. Visitors can take tea by a nearby lake, go horse riding on pure bred Marwari horses, or enjoy a very special dinner at an ancient stepwell near Narlai village which is lit by hundreds of tiny oil lamps. Whilst you eat, local farmers from the village in their white dhotis and fuchsia turbans perform traditional dances.
Narlai is a handy stop on the road between Jodhpur and Udaipur. The area offers comfortable access to the airy citadels of Kumbhalgarh Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is an hour and a half drive from Narlai, and the 15th century Jain temples at Ranakpur, which is just over an hour’s drive away – both in the direction of Udaipur to the south.
Sleepy but charming and striking, Narlai offers a delightful detour from Rajasthan’s often crowded tourist trail.
Features in the following itineraries
To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.
- Jaime Benitez, South India
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India
- Mr David Wallace, North India
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka
- Matthew Nicklin, North India
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka
- Anonymous, India
- Leslie Siben, India
- Matthew Annable, Rajasthan, India
- Mr Geoffrey Johnson, India