While there are basic lodgings in Mandu, we highly recommend a stay at Ahilya Fort, a fantastic destination in itself, situated on the Narmada River in the town of Maheshwar, some 91km (56 miles) from Indore. From either city, the journey to Mandu should take 2 1/2 hours. If you arrive in Indore too late to move on to Mandu or Maheshwar, you'll easily find a room in one of the city's standard business hotels; the best of these is Fortune Landmark (tel. 0731/398-8444; www.fortunehotels.com; from $90 double). The amenities and comforts here match those of any reasonable city hotel, and the surrounding lawns and gardens are lovely. If, however, you'd prefer a more personal experience, see if you can manage to stay at Rashid Kothi (22 Yeshwant Niwas Rd., Indore 452 003; tel. 0731/254-5060; ashanu@hotmail.com), a family home run by Anuradha Dubey and Arshad Rashid. Of the two rooms, one is a garden cottage; furnishings are comfortable and contain thoughtful touches that enhance the homely atmosphere. All meals (strictly vegetarian) are included in the room rate (Rs 5,500 single, Rs 10,000 double without air-conditioning).

If you decide to stay in Mandu itself, be prepared to rough it somewhat. Our first choice among the small selection of spartan lodgings is Hotel Rupmati (Mandu 454 010; tel. 07292/26-3270), a budget charmer with 12 simple rooms (from Rs 1,300 double). Close to the village bazaar on the edge of a cliff, the hotel enjoys great views. Guest rooms are in a long stone building; all are large with whitewashed walls and a thin, rock-hard mattress with white linens and a blanket (most also have A/C and a TV for double the price). The view can be enjoyed from a small private balcony. Attention has been paid to the grounds, which feature a children's play area, and the cleanliness and tranquillity of the place make up for the budget facilities.

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.