As a former dukedom in the kingdom of Mewar, Delwara boasts a long and rich history. Delwara is an ideal place to visit village India on its own terms, and see how the community is adapting itself, with the help of one of the country's best development nonprofits, for the 21st century. Over the past 20 years, Delwara has undergone many social changes that have greatly impacted the community. As a very traditional and religion-focused community, the deterioration of the caste system, alternative government empowerment, and increasing sanitation and water access initiatives have made a huge impact on the lives of the townspeople. Though times are slowly changing, beautiful historical and cultural sites can still be found throughout the Delwara’s narrow streets.
Delwara was originally known as Devkul Paton Nagri, which means town of the gods. True to its name, at one time, the town boasted about 1000 temples, of which 400 were Jain temples. Raja Sampriti, the King of Mewar, spent about 1-lakh on temple building during his reign. In fact, even today, every street in Delwara has at least one temple.
The kingdom of Mewar was originally divided into 16 districts. Delwara was one of these 16. Delwara was ruled by the Jhala Rajputs. The Jhala family was known for its bravery and valour. As many as 7 generations of the Jhala family had been sacrificing their lives for the Maharanas, who were the rulers of Mewar during the construction of the famous Jain temples. Delwara was one of the main centers of learning and culture during the 15th century. Delwara used to be a much larger town, as today only 25% of the original town remains.
Delwara is accessible by car and bus and is located right along National Highway 8, just 40 minutes north of Udaipur. Buses leave regularly from Udaipur's main bus station, Chetak Circle and Fatehpura Circle.
Devi Garh Palace - This 18th century palace in the village of Delwara has undergone years of restoration and rebuilding. This all suite luxury hotel comprising of 39 suites takes on the look of modern India, with an emphasis on design and detail, using local marble and semi-precious stones. The contemporary design showcased within this spectacular heritage property, complemented by personalized and intimate service, creates a new image of India for the 21st century.
Rishabhdev Jain Temple - This 700+ year-old white marble temple showcases 149 pillars and contains 52 individual shrines. This temple provides an outstanding example of the fine craftsmanship and architecture of its era. The inner chambers and columns are covered in exquisite marble carvings and stone work.
Parshwanath Jain Temple - This 900+ year-old temple's architecture and sculptures reveal the work of great artisans and craftsmen. A unique feature of the temple is a chamber about 5 meters underground, which houses 13 beautiful idols. Over the past few years, the Jain community has initiated a large scale project to restore this temple to its former state.
Sadhna Workshop - About 20 years ago, a patchwork program was initiated in Delwara by a local NGO, Seva Mandir, as an income generation activity to promote women’s empowerment. Today, this initiative has transformed into a self-owned enterprise involving more than 600 women from various villages. Of these, around 250 are from Delwara, which is where their main workshop is found. Open to the public, fair trade and high quality women’s clothing can be purchased here.
Hunting Tower - According to a book published by the Adeshvar Jain Temple, this hunting tower located on Kantya hill, locally known as Audhi, was built by King Jasvantsinh. It was used by the king for hunting during his rule.
Palera Talab - A large lake standing at the entrance to Delwara, which was built around 1875 AD. Two small domed pavilions ornamented the lake, adding to its charm. The name Palera Talab is derived from Sanskrit 'palankarta', which means ‘protector’ – an appropriate name given to the lake that is the town’s main water source.
Indra Kund - A beautiful step well that is a marvelous example of stone carvings and is about 15 meters deep.
The Delwara Heritage and Community Walk, beginning at Sadhna Production Center, National Highway 8, Near Devi Garh Entrance Road. For bookings please call +91 8107495390 or email at [email protected] Website: http://www.sevamandir.org/walk. Walks are available hourly between 10am and 6pm, 7 days a week. Cost is Rs.300 ($5) per person. Discounts are available for large groups. Unlike other heritage walks, this one goes beyond physical heritage to offer a window into small town India. It asks and answers questions about caste, women’s rights, drinking water, livelihoods and other aspects of the transformative development and social change brought about by the people of Delwara and Seva Mandir, one of India’s leading nonprofit organizations. The Walk is a social enterprise led by young adults from Delwara itself, all of whom have done hundreds of hours of training to gain certification as guides from Seva Mandir (http://www.sevamandir.org).