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Halfway between Jaipur and Udaipur, the Rajasthani town of Shahpura has a rich arts and crafts tradition and is full of shops – shoemakers, tailors and grocers. It is clean and friendly, and a charming non-touristy place to interact with local people.

It has a fine stepwell, a revered ancient temple, Ram Dwara, and an old city palace with striking Rajput and Mughal architecture. For an interesting temple visit, take a 45-minute trek to a tribal temple perched at the top of a wooded hill where tribal communities congregate at weekends to worship their tribal deities.

To the west of Shahpura town, set between a cluster of tranquil man-made lakes replenished by the annual monsoon, is Shahpura Bagh, now a luxurious boutique hotel. The surrounding plains are predominantly agricultural and the people, who are relatively unused to tourists, are friendly and inquisitive. Visitors can enjoy engaging guided village walks and excursions to working farms through pristine woodland, grassy pastures and orchards, with the option of travelling by cow-drawn carriage.

In season, when the lakes are full, there is an abundance of birdlife – around 180 species. Visitors can enjoy boat trips, bird watching walks around the lakes, hiking, fishing, cycling and picnicking. Around 15 kilometres from the hotel, the family-owned old Dhikhola Fort makes a nice day trip.

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The traveller sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.
G. K. Chesterton

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- Matthew Annable, Rajasthan, India
So many highlights to choose from! The hotels were amazing but Maya Villa was a highlight… I loved just hanging out in the hammock reading my book and watching the peacocks chase the cows!
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