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Visitor Information -- Jhunjhunu has a tourist office (tel. 015945/23-2909; Mon-Sat 10am-5pm; closed Sun and second Sat of the month), but you'll have more success finding information and arranging a guide through your hotel. Ilay Cooper's illustrated The Painted Towns of Shekhawati (Prakash 2009, or Mapin Guides) is still the original bible, with a concise history of the region as well as a breakdown of towns, easy-to-follow maps, and listings of all the sites worth visiting. You can purchase a copy at Books Corner in Jaipur, at Mandawa Castle, or at Desert Resort. Another book worth considering is Shekhawati: Rajasthan's Painted Homes by Pankaj Rakesh and Karoki Lewis (Lustre Press Roli Books).

Getting There -- Public transport is relatively limited, so the easiest way to explore the area is to hire a car and driver in Jaipur or Delhi, stop at a few towns along the way, and overnight at Mandawa or Nawalgarh. Or you could take a 2-day detour to Mandawa en route from Delhi to Jaipur (driving time Delhi-Mandawa 7 hr.; Mandawa-Jaipur 4 hr.) or vice versa; or if driving on to or from Jaisalmer overnight at Gajner Palace to break the monotony.

Getting Around -- Again, you will need a car and driver to go from town to town with ease. For a reputable local driver and guide contact Indoarya at tel. 011/2651-1634; indoarya@vsnl.net. Once there, it is relatively easy to explore each area on foot with a guide or by following Ilay Cooper's detailed, hand drawn maps in his instructional The Painted Towns of Shekhawati.

Driving Tour -- Travel from Jaipur (or Samode Palace) to Sikar, stopping to look at the havelis (historic homes or mansions of wealthy merchants) in Nawalgarh. Have lunch at Roop Niwas, and then set off for Mandawa and overnight there either at its labyrinthine Castle or the rustic, tranquil Desert Resort. For the best accommodation in the area use Mandawa as your base and spend 2 nights. From here it is a short hop to Jhunjhunu, Nawalgarh, and Alsisar. The following day, visit Fatehpur and Lachhmangarh before heading south to Sikar and back down to Jaipur or onward to Delhi.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.