Greetings, Internet Stranger! When you started dreaming about going to northern India, I assume that you dreamed up hitting the major tourist destinations. The Taj Mahal! The pink city of Jaipur! The famous lakes of Udaipur! But it’s very unlikely that you were dreaming of spending 24 hours in Madhogarh Fort.
In fact, before I visited India, I had never even heard of Madhogarh Fort, which is in a small village in the state of Rajasthan. But I strongly recommend spending 24 hours in Madhogarh Fort during your time in northern India. You’ll have the opportunity to spend the night in a real fort and meet an actual prince! And you’ll love seeing a quieter, gentler side of India than you’ll find in the big cities.
Keep in mind that, unlike most of my 24-hour itineraries, I did this one on a group tour with Intrepid Travel’s Classic Rajasthan tour. I highly recommend it if you don’t feel like exploring a huge country like India solo. The Intrepid tour arranged all our activities in this itinerary, but you could certainly experience the same 24 hours in Madhogarh Fort on your own. I’ll give you all the tips you need!
Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that just because this itinerary is for 24 hours in Madhogarh Fort, that doesn’t mean you should only spend 24 hours in Madhogarh Fort. If you want to add 24 hours in Delhi, click here.
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24 Hours: Madhogarh Fort
Morning: Amer Fort
Though Madhogarh is a charming village, you won’t necessarily want to spend the entire 24 hours there. Fortunately, Madhogarh is located near many other cultural attractions like Amer Fort. On the Classic Rajasthan tour, we visited Amer Fort on our way from Agra in the morning before driving to Madhogarh in the afternoon. But you could also easily get to Amer Fort from Jaipur or from Madhogarh itself.
The easiest way to get to Amer Fort is to take the Classic Rajasthan tour. But if that’s not in the cards, I would recommend hiring a private driver. It’s very affordable in India. Message your hotel (whether it’s Fort Madhogarh or a hotel in Agra or Jaipur) before you get to India and ask their advice.
And now that the technical preliminaries are out of the way…let’s get down to the fun stuff!
three fun facts: Amer fort
1) why should I visit Amer fort, huh?
Well, there’s no need to be so argumentative, Internet Stranger! The main reason to visit Amer Fort is that it’s absolutely stunning. I’m from New York City, and sometimes New Yorkers can act like there’s no need to leave Manhattan because everything you need is there. But there is nothing in the Big Apple to compare with the beauty of Amer Fort.
Don’t miss the pale pink frescoes all over the walls. These are original to the 16th century, which is pretty much a miracle. My favorite image on the frescoes is this little Ganesh, the famous Hindu elephant god, located over an entrance.
Our guide said that it’s common to put Ganesh over a doorway in order to bring prosperity to a home. I know Ganesh is a God, and we need to treat him with respect, but he’s just so cute! Sometimes I just want to pinch his chubby elephant cheeks.
The other can’t miss sight in Amer Fort is the Jai Mandir building. This chamber was used to give private audiences to special visitors. And when you’re the lord of one of the grandest forts in Rajasthan, you want to wow anyone who’s lucky enough to get a private audience with you. But what’s a great lord to do if he can’t make a giant hologram of his head, Wizard of Oz style?
The rulers of Amer Fort had the clever idea to cover the Jai Mandir building with tiny mirrors. This way it would sparkle and dazzle the eyes of their guests. They would go back to their homes and tell everyone that Amer Fort was the shiniest place in all the land! That’s why this hall is sometimes called the Mirror Palace. You really have to see it in person to understand how amazing all the mirrors are. My photos don’t do it justice.
2) why is amer fort?
Like most forts, Amer Fort was built to protect powerful men from their hordes of enemies. There has been a fort on this spot since the 10th century, but most of the current palace was built in the 16th century by a general named Raja Man Singh. He served Emperor Akbar, one of the Muslim Mughal emperors. He was such a successful general that he eventually became the Raja of Amer.
I honestly find 16th-century Indian political history very confusing. But what I gather is that a Raja like Man Singh was a king who served under Akbar. So basically he was like Darth Vader to Akbar’s Emperor Palpatine, except with less evil and choking people out with the power of your mind. In 16th and 17th century northern India, there would have been many rajas living in castles like Amer Fort with the Mughal Emperor living like a boss in the capital, Agra.
But don’t cry for the rajas, Internet Stranger! Their lives were pretty sweet even if they weren’t emperor. Our guide told us that the raja of Amer Fort had apartments for each of his 12 wives. To avoid conflict between the wives, the raja could get into each apartment, but there was no way for his wives to visit each other. Hmm. I just think the raja didn’t want to give his wives the opportunity to organize and rise up against him.
Someone in our group asked what would happen if the raja had 12 wives and then met someone else he wanted to marry. The guide laughed as if the idea of having 12 wives was completely normal, but having 13 was just extravagant and crazy. I tend to agree. Who wants 13 mothers in law? (HEY-OH!)
3) anything I shouldn’t do at Amer fort?
Absolutely. You will notice tourists riding elephants up the hill to Amer Fort. Under no circumstances should you ride these elephants. They are not from the area, and they don’t belong there. It’s bad for their health and well-being to have to take tourists up this hill.
I’m not here to criticize or judge the men driving the elephants because I don’t know their life stories or if they even have the option to get another job. But please don’t create a market for these elephant rides. If you’re not physically able to walk, hire a golf cart driver to take you up instead.
24 Hours: Madhogarh Fort
Afternoon: Explore Madhogarh
All right, we’re ready for the actual Madhogarh part of our 24 hours in Madhogarh itinerary! Again, you’ll need to either be on the Classic Rajasthan tour or have a private driver take you to your Castle/Hotel, Fort Madhogarh. You can get all the information on their website here.
I am not in any way exaggerating here. Madhogarh Fort is an actual, literal castle. It’s about 400 years old, and you get to stay here tonight! You’ll feel like an actual Disney princess only without quite so many talking birds.
We’ll have the entire evening to explore the castle, but since it’s still daylight, let’s get out there and greet the neighboring Madhogarh Village. Fort Madhogarh will arrive a tour guide to take you around and show you the sights. (Since we were on the Classic Rajasthan tour, our main guide Ronny was the one who did the guiding.) Either way, you’ll definitely be able to see…
three facts: 24 hours in madhogarh
1) what is life like in madhogarh?
Ronny said that Madhogarh is a poor village. The average person here lives on less than one American dollar a day. In India, that entitles you to assistance from the government. Ronny told us not to give money to the villagers (most of them didn’t ask) because it can encourage begging. But Intrepid Travel does collect donations and give them to the local school to buy supplies for the children.
The current government in India, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is considered right-wing. Many of Modi’s actions as Prime Minister are controversial, especially those that discriminate against the Muslim population. But there are lots of Indians who voted for him for economic reasons. Gosh, that doesn’t sound familiar at all!
The Hindu religion is extremely important to the residents of Madhogarh. Devotion is common in many rural areas of India. So the most striking and brightly colored building in the town will often be the Hindu temple. You probably won’t be able to go inside when you tour the village, though.
2) how do the locals feel about tourists?
Great question, Internet Stranger! It was hard to tell because many locals don’t speak English. However, they were certainly curious about us. It felt like all the kids of the town were running up to us, and they all wanted their picture taken. They mugged and posed like they were ready for the cover of Vogue. Part of me wants to post photos of them here because they were so excited about being “famous”. But I’m just not comfortable with it ethically.
I don’t recommend taking pictures of people in India (or anywhere you travel) unless you explicitly get their permission first. However, taking photos of the cows is fine. As far as I’m concerned, cows are always explicitly consenting to have their picture taken. I mean, they’re so photogenic with those big eyes and swishy tails.
3) what is there to do in madhogarh?
It’s a pretty sleepy village, so there’s not a ton to do. But you can enjoy the spicy local street food. There wasn’t a menu or anything, so I don’t know exactly what was in this ball. I shall just call it The Ball of Fried Deliciousness. Just don’t go buying street food without the guide to recommend a spot for you. The guide will know which street foods are safe to eat.
The coolest thing in Madhogarh is the jewelry shop. The couple that runs the shop makes lac bangles. These shiny lacquer bracelets covered in tiny mirrors are quite popular in Rajasthan. It’ll be like wearing the walls of the Mirror Palace on your arm! And three bangles only cost a dollar, so you can buy a whole bunch as gifts. You, your loved ones with arms, and the owners of the jewelry shop will all go home happy!
24 Hours: Madhogarh Fort
Evening: Luxuriate at Madhogarh Fort!
We’ve had a busy day of history, mirrors, and cows, so now it’s time to take a load off. Once the sun begins to set, you’ll want to head out onto the terrace of the fort for a drink and a spectacular orange sunset.
Go local and get a Kingfisher beer. This is a light lager, so it’s drinkable even when the weather is hot. It’s also ubiquitous in India. There are almost as many bottles of Kingfisher beer as there are minor 16th-century Indian kings. Kingfisher is a mass-produced beer, so some of you out there might be more interested in one of India’s new craft beers. But I don’t know that you can get one at Fort Madhogarh.
24 hour tip
Don’t be the elderly mean Canadian lady in our group who drank too many beers and promptly passed out for a day. Kingfisher beer is deceptively light. Drink responsibly!
Before dinner, we were required to dress. This didn’t mean putting on a jacket and tie; it meant letting the staff of the hotel dress us all up in saris and other traditional Indian clothes. I felt a little odd participating. Isn’t this cultural appropriation?
But I couldn’t think of anything more ridiculous than a white girl like me lecturing a group of Indians about cultural appropriation, so I decided to just shut up and wear the clothes. The young women at the hotel were enthusiastic about helping me pick out the most flattering colors and showing me how to tie and wrap the garments. By the end you’ll feel like you’re wearing a jillion layers of fabric, but you’ll still be comfortable because each layer is so light.
I guess if you’re going to be eating dinner in a palace this beautiful, they want to make sure you look the part!
For the final activity of the evening, join everyone out on the terrace for a buffet dinner! Vegetarians will have no trouble finding great food in India! I’m usually quite the carnivore and even I went veggie in Rajasthan because it was the easiest choice. Between the vegetable curries, warm naan bread, and soothing lentil dal, there’s something for everyone.
Just make sure to bring a jacket for dining outside. Even with all the layers from the saris. it can get chilly at night. And nothing says, “Fancy Princess in a Fancy Castle” less than dying from hypothermia.
That’s a Perfect 24 Hours: Madhogarh Fort!
What would you do with 24 hours in Madhogarh Fort? Was it good to be the raja? And where is this cow going? THERE’S A WALL THERE, COW! Please leave your thoughts below!