Nagaur’s a delightfully unspoilt market town in Western Rajasthan, built of pale-red sandstone. Every in November it hosts a camel fair to rival the better known one in Pushkar, but the chief attraction the rest of the year is its beautiful fort, Ahichatragar. A major restoration project, part-funded by the Getty Foundation, recruited artisans from across the state in 2007 and they did a spectacular job, reviving forgotten medieval water courses and returning the stonework to its former glory.
The fort now hosts the annual festival of World Sufi Spirit Festival, when musicians and dancers from across the Islamic world perform in its candle-lit courtyards. In addition, the former zenana wing of Ahichatragar’s Mughal-era palace houses one of India’s most atmospheric heritage hotels, Ranvas. Dozens of original fountains sparkle in its interlocking walled enclosures, and there’s a dreamy new pool to bask beside. Blending earthy sandstone, limewash and striking silks, the rooms are heavenly, with finely carved pillars and brackets to remind you you’re staying in a genuine medieval palace.
Between the 12th and 16th centuries, Nagaur became the home of several famous Sufi mystics, and tombs and mosques dating from this era are dotted around the town – rare examples of pre-Mughal architecture in the Thar Desert. Traces of Persian-style glazed tiles remain on the Gujarati-influenced Shams Khan Masjid, while the Mughal-era Jama Masjid, built in 1564 on the northeast edge of town by Akbar’s governor Hussain Quli Khan, sports a splendid pair of brick minarets.
See our lovely two-minute video on Ranvas, the award-winning boutique hotel in Nagaur’s Achichatragar Fort.