Rajasthan, the land of forts and fables, is also the meeting ground of many religious sects & beliefs and home to revered pilgrimage sites as well as holy shrines. Tucked in the lap of Aravallis, along the banks of the Banas river is the charming temple town of Nathdwara in Rajasthan. One of the most important places to visit in Nathdwara, the Shrinathji temple also gives the town its name literally meaning ‘Gateway to Shrinathji’. While Nathdwara is flocked by thousands of devotees every year who visit the sacred shrines, it is also frequented by history enthusiasts visiting Haldighati or art aficionados drawn by the craft village of Molela.
Come Knocking at the Doors of Divinity & History: Places to Visit in Nathdwara
1. Feel the divine presence at Shreenathji Temple
A prominent Vaishnavite shrine, Shrinathji temple is home to the 7-year-old ‘infant’ incarnation of Lord Krishna. Originally worshipped at Mathura, the deity was moved here along the Yamuna in 1672 AD. You can feel the divine presence as you enter the sanctum sanctorum and gaze at the enchanting & beautifully sculpted black stone statue of the Lord Krishna. Though the darshan queues are usually long, the spiritual vibes of this pious place and immense faith keep the devotees going. Special care must be taken of the Nathdwara darshan timing if travelling with children and senior citizens.
Nathdwara temple timings: There are seven time slots starting from ‘Mangla’ (5:45AM-6:30AM) and the final evening ‘Arti’ (5:15PM-6:00PM)
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2. Walk through the Annals of History at Haldighati
The famed battleground, where Rajasthan’s legendary brave heart Maharana Pratap took on the mighty Mughal army of Akbar, is definitely amongst the top place to visit in Nathdwara for its historical significance. Haldighati (the name owing to its turmeric colored soil) is now a mountain pass in the Aravalis where you can feel the presence of the valiant Maharana of Mewar and spot the cenotaph dedicated to his loyal horse Chetak. Do not miss out on visiting his memorial and museum close by for an experience to remember.
3. Take a glimpse into the life of the brave heart at Maharana Pratap Memorial
This well-maintained museum dedicated ot one of the most inspirational, brave and daring rulers of Mewar is a fitting tribute to the warrior who dedicated his entire life to protecting his land and people. Impressive statues depicting the battle of Haldighati, life-like artwork and informative film about Maharana Pratap allow us a peek into the life of this courageous warrior. The light and sound show narrating the tales of his valour is both insightful and a treat to the eyes.
Timings: 9:30AM to 7:30PM
Entry Fee: INR 100/person
4. Soak in the spiritual vibes at Dwarkadheesh temple
Just 18Kms from Nathdwara is another Krishna shrine that is visited by thousands of devotees along with the Shrinathji temple. Exuding positive vibes and aura, the beautiful statue of the deity is a sight to behold. Designed like an ornate haveli, the huge temple along the Rajsamand lake is a peaceful spiritual retreat for spending some tranquil moments in divine presence.
Darshan timings: 7AM-11AM; 4PM-7PM
Foodie tip: Do not miss the refreshing mint & ginger tea and yummy ‘bhajiyas’ outside the temple.
5. Marvel at the exquisite mirror work at Charbhuja Temple
This famous Vishnu temple located an hour away from Nathdwara is highly revered by pilgrims across the State. Built by King Gang Dev in 1444 AD as instructed in a divine dream, this ancient temple displays excellent mirror work and marble carvings. The idol installed at the temple is believed to be the same one worshipped by Pandavas, making it historically significant. With its entrance guarded by towering stone elephants, the temple exudes grandeur and divinity.
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6. Unravel Pottery Stories at Molela Terracotta Village
The rich handicrafts and workmanship of Rajasthani craftsmen is celebrated the world over. The incredible pottery art kept alive by this small village must be seen to be believed, making Molela a worthy addition to the place to visit in Nathdwara. This 800-year old clay art comes alive on detailed murals and plaques with images of gods/goddesses and scenes from epics or village life. Molela Teracotta art Museum managed by acclaimed artist Dinesh Chandra Kumhar is worth a visit. He also conducts workshops, seminars and training sessions for those interested in the art.
Distance from Nathdwara: 12.5 Kms
7. Witness the architectural beauty of the ancient Shri Eklingji Temple
While you consider the best places to visit in Nathdwara, this outstanding temple complex just a half an hour drive away must definitely be on your itinerary. One cannot help but marvel at the craftsmanship and architectural beauty of this 108-temple complex dedicated to the benefactor deity of Mewar Rajputs. Along with the main shrine of Eklingji (Lord Shiva), the serene complex also houses temples dedicated the Sun God, goddess Durga and others. Photography is prohibited inside the temple which is the perfect place to meditate, relax and feel one with divinity.
Temple timings: 4AM-6AM; 10:30AM-1:30PM; 5:30PM-7PM
8. Spend few tranquil hours at the Nand Samand Dam
One of the few places to visit in Nathdwara for some relaxed moments by the tranquil waters is the Nand Samand dam also called Tantol Dam. This placid expanse of water is a wonderful outing from Nathdwara especially during the monsoon season when the water is overflowing. The main source of water supply to Nathdwara and nearby villages, this beautiful dam is also the perfect spot to catch a serene sunrise or a stunning sunset with the Aravalli hills in the backdrop.
9. Do not miss out this poetry in stone at Ranakpur Jain Temple
Located 97 Kms away, arguably one of the best places to visit near Nathdwara, is this exquisite poetry in stone: the awe-inspiring Ranakpur Jain temples. The outstanding craftsmanship, intricate carving and marvellous architecture of this beautiful temple will leave you spellbound. Built in 15th century by the Jain businessman Dharna Shah after a divine vision, this architectural marvel has 1444 carved pillars each different from the other. One exceptional carving is that of a 108 snake heads on a single piece of stone, a true gem not to be missed.
Temple timings: Open for Jain pilgrims from morning, but tourists can visit only between 12PM-5PM every day.
10. Hear the tales of valour at the mighty Kumbhalgarh Fort
Calling Kumbhalgarh the crowning glory amongst forts in Rajasthan wouldn’t be an exaggeration by any means. This towering fort with its impressive rounded bastions is undeniably one of the must-visit places near Nathdwara and can be combined with a trip to Haldighati. Built in the 15th century by Maharan Kumbha, this invincible symbol of Rajput supremacy is now a UNESCO world heritage site. Considered India’s very own Great Wall, the fort ramparts are wide enough for 8 horses to march abreast.
Fort timings: 9AM to 6PM every day
Entry Fee: INR 15/person for Indian citizens. INR 200/person for foreigners
Traveler tip: the magical light and sound show every evening at 6:45PM is a mesmerising spectacle worth witnessing.
Show fee: INR100/adult and INR50/child