Delwara: a beautiful heritage walk by Seva Mandir

This post is about Delwara and the Delwara Heritage walk that is run by Seva Mandir. Delwara is a small town in the Aravalli Hills near Udaipur in the state of Rajasthan. The town is known for its magnificent Jain temples and scenic surroundings. It’s the perfect place to get a sense of rural near Udaipur and is a great addition to any Rajasthan itinerary.

Delwara: town of the Gods

Delwara has a rich history that is reflected in its architecture, art, and culture. It was once known as Devkul Patan Nagri, or town of the gods. With over 1500 temples it was an important cultural and religious center. Around the 15th century, Delwara was the capital of the Mewar kingdom where most Mewar princes got their education.

Nowadays, Delwara is a small village that few people have heard about, despite its rich cultural heritage. In my opinion it is one of the most interesting day trips from Udaipur.

Delwara is in the midst of the Aravalli hills

Delwara and Seva Mandir

One of the organizations that put Delwara back on the map is Seva Mandir. Seva Mandir is an excellent community based organization focusing on women empowerment, youth development, health and education using participatory methods. They have been working in Rajasthan since 1968 and are now supporting over 700 villages around Udaipur.

For years I was following the projects of the NGO Seva Mandir in Udaipur and considered volunteering with them. Unfortunately my studies brought me to other places in this world. But when I visited Rajasthan last November I was hoping to see their work.

Seva Mandir started their work in Delwara with a number of projects about water. They soon recognized the history and culture of the town and started the Seva Mandir heritage walk

Local guides will show you around the village and share the history of its hidden gems such as the beautiful 18th century palace and the unique Delwara’s Jain temples that are more than a 1000 years old. I immediately signed up for this interesting and affordable tour, but I was also a bit worried.

A lot of NGO’s in India see the tourism potential for fundraising and have made poverty into some kind of business. They show tourists the worst of the worst and tell the most heart breaking stories.

This exploitation of the misery of other people is all meant to work on your feelings so that you will donate as much money as possible in the end. Unfortunately this money does not always go towards improving the lives of the people that you met on your tour.

Things in India are not always what they look like and you are often left guessing if it was all true what you saw in the first place.

Seva Mandir runs several community projects in Delwara
Seva Mandir also works on women empowerment in Delwara

Delwara Heritage walk

The good thing was that Seva Mandir was not advertising the Delwara heritage walk as a slum tour. Instead they were trying to attract people with the cultural heritage and crafts traditions of this village. Ancient traditions that the people of Delwara are rightly proud of.

Still, I was a bit skeptical when I took the bus from Udaipur to Delwara. Our guide picked us up from the bus station with a smile. He was a young student and spoke excellent english. He took his time to show us around the village and focused on both the history of Delwara as well as the projects of Seva Mandir.

The Delwara Heritage walk was one of the best tours I had in India. Our guide did not show us poverty, but he gave us insight into the daily life in a rural town in Rajasthan. He explained the challenges they face, but also their achievements, progress and opportunities. 


Seva Mandir’s work in Delwara

Our first stop on the Delwara heritage walk was Seva Mandir’s local youth and community center. The center is also a production studio where women are making dresses. The community center looked well run, but the real work that Seva Mandir was doing in Delwara was outside.

The 3 hour Delwara heritage walk was an interesting and well balanced combination of history, temples, crafts and Seva Mandir’s projects. One of such projects is a waste collection program that explained why the village was relatively clean for Indian standards. Another project was to improve the access to water by building wells and renovating the old traditional stepwells.

Water project in Delwara

Why you should visit Delwara

I left Delwara with a positive feeling. It was a great walk and one that I can recommend to anyone visiting Rajasthan in India. The village is beautiful. There is so much to see that I am wondering why it is not in the Lonely Planet. 

I was also surprised to find out that Seva Mandir is not receiving as many visitors as I would expect given the high quality of the walking tour and the beauty of the village. Even if you do not intend to join a walking tour it is still worth a visit on your own.

It makes a perfect day trip from Udaipur with its colorful streets, beautiful royal palaces and old Jain temples. It is a quiet and peaceful village where we received some curious stares and smiles, but zero hassle. A nice change from some of the other places in Rajasthan.

Delwara bazaar

Delwara’s Jain temples

One main reason to visit Delwara are also it’s Jain temples. On the Delwara heritage walk our guide managed to explain a lot about the Jain religion. Of the 1500 temples in Delwara about 400 were Jain temples.There are only 3 temples that remain. One of them is more than a 1000 years old and attracts Jain pilgrims from all over India

What I love about the Jain temples is the beauty in small details. The Jain temples of Delwara were built between the 11th and 13th centuries and are renowned for their intricate carvings, beautiful marble work, and stunning architecture. The small statues of the gods look very calm and serene. I can see why they call Delwara the town of Gods.

Jain temple

Delwara travel tips

How to get there

Delwara is 40 Minutes from Udaipur and makes a perfect day trip. You can take a taxi or the local bus. From 07:30 AM till 17:00 PM there are frequent buses from Udaipur (at least 2 per hour).

The Delwara heritage walking tour costs 500 Rs per person (as of 2019, prices may change and discounts for bigger groups are available). They are organised by Seva Mandir. If you want to arrange a tour you can contact them by calling them at: +91 9660552330. Tours are between 10 AM till 6 PM 7 days per week and last between 2 – 3 hours.


Where to stay

It is best to visit on a day trip from Udaipur. In Udaipur I can recommend

Budget: Musafir hostel or Zostel hostel. Zostel hostel has become a reliable chain in India that stands for clean hostels with excellent facilities and friendly staff. Can’t really go wrong staying in a zostel and they have one in Udaipur too.

Midrange: Shemesh homestay

When to visit

The best time to visit Rajasthan is between October and March. In October temperatures cool down and you might have a chance to join the festivities for Dussehra and Diwali. India’s biggest festivals.

Temperatures remain pleasant till March. In April and May, Rajasthan in general, will be extremely hot. In June it is the start of the monsoon that lasts till September and will see a lot of rainfall.

DisclaimerThis post about the Seva Mandir Delwara heritage walk in Delwara contains affiliate links. If you buy any service through any of my links, I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you. These earnings help me to keep Backpack Adventures alive! Thanks for your support!

12 thoughts on “Delwara: a beautiful heritage walk by Seva Mandir”

  • Ellis this is such a beautiful piece. I love that it profiles life not property and highlights the progress and not failure of society.What an important project to profile and attract more visitors to. kx

  • A well-written blog and so nice to see that poverty isn’t being exploited by your guide but instead an education about another culture and the daily lives of those who live near Delwara. Thanks.

  • Hi Ellis
    Great blog! I came across your site when researching the Delwara Walk which is my project to develop as a volunteer for Seva Mandir. So good to read a positive write up, which I might even use in our brochures if that’s ok with you. My wife and I are retired and travelling the world as volunteers, so our blog is not so comprehensive of places to see and is meant more for family, friends and like-minded travellers. Maybe we will cross paths one day on our travels? Our next port of call will be Gondar, Ethiopia which we fell in love with when there for a few months last year. Keep living life to the full! Jeff

    • great to read you like the post. My site also started out as a place to share stories with friends and family. Ethiopia is very high on my bucketlist so who knows. Hope you like India.

  • Delwara is closed up there are no women’s projects no walking tours rubbish in step wells. Mostly shutters on shops. Very very disappointing.
    I wonder if NGO is still taking money and no one is doing any community development.
    They don’t reply to emails. There is a house with an NGO office but no one seems to be doing anything

  • We found the Delwara heritage walk thanks to this blog. Thank you for this, it was a great experience!

    In contrast to what Jenny posted, we did manage to do a walk in Delwara. Our guide, Himmat, who was very knowledgeable about his village, its history, temples and historic houses. We contacted him via WhatsApp on phone number that can be found on the website of Sevar Mandir:

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